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5.
5.1.

JAR 66 CATEGORY B1
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PROPULSION
SYSTEMS

COMBUSTION SECTION
INTRODUCTION

The combustion chamber has the difficult task of burning large quantities of fuel,
supplied through the fuel burners, with extensive volumes of air, supplied by the
compressor, and releasing the heat in such a manner that the air is expanded and
accelerated to give a smooth stream of uniformly heated gas at all conditions
required by the turbine. This task must be accomplished with the minimum loss in
pressure and with the maximum heat release for the limited space available.
The amount of fuel added to the air will depend upon the maximum temperature rise
required and, as this is limited by the materials from which the turbine blades and
nozzles are made, the rise must be in the range of 700 to 1,200 deg.C. Because the
air is already heated by the work done during compression, the temperature rise
required at the combustion chamber may be between 500 and 800 deg.C. Since the
gas temperature required at the turbine varies with engine speed, and in the case of
the turbo-prop engine upon the power required, the combustion chamber must also
be capable of maintaining stable and efficient combustion over a wide range of
engine operating conditions.
Efficient combustion has become more and more important because of the rapid
increase in commercial aircraft traffic and the consequent increase in atmospheric
pollution, which is seen by the general public as exhaust smoke.
5.2.

COMBUSTION PROCESS

Air from the engine compressor enters the combustion chamber at a velocity up to
500 feet per second, but because at this velocity the air speed is far too high for
combustion, the first thing that the chamber must do is to diffuse it, i.e. decelerate it
and raise its static pressure. Because the speed of burning kerosene at normal
mixture ratios is only a few feet per second, any fuel lit even in the diffused air
stream, which now has a velocity of about 80 feet per second, would be blown away.
A region of low axial velocity has therefore to be created in the chamber, so that the
flame will remain alight throughout the range of engine operating conditions.
In normal operation, the overall air/fuel ratio of a combustion chamber can vary
between 45:1 and 130:1. Kerosene, however, will only burn efficiently at, or close to,
a ratio of 15:1, so the fuel must be burned with only part of the air entering the
chamber, in what is called a primary combustion zone. This is achieved by means of
a flame tube (combustion liner) that has various devices for metering the airflow
distribution along the chamber.

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JAR 66 CATEGORY B1
MODULE 15/17
PROPULSION
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Typical Combustion Chamber


Figure 5.1.
Approximately 20 per cent of the air mass flow is taken in by the snout or entry
section. Immediately downstream of the snout are swirl vanes and a perforated flare,
through which air passes into the primary combustion zone. The swirling air induces
a flow upstream of the centre of the flame tube and promotes the desired
recirculation. The air not picked up by the snout flows into the annular space
between the flame tube and the air casing.
Through the wall of the flame tube body, adjacent to the combustion zone, are a
selected number of holes through which a further 20 per cent of the main flow of air
passes into the primary zone. The air from the swirl vanes and that from the primary
air holes interacts and creates a region of low velocity recirculation. This takes the
form of a toroidal vortex similar to a smoke ring, and has the effect of stabilising and
anchoring the flame. The recirculating gases hasten the burning of freshly injected
fuel droplets by rapidly bringing them to ignition temperature.
It is arranged that the conical fuel spray from the burner intersects the recirculation
vortex at its centre. This action, together with the general turbulence in the primary
zone, greatly assists in breaking up the fuel and mixing it with the incoming air.
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The temperature of the combustion gases released by the combustion zone is about
1,800 to 2,000 deg.C., which is far too hot for entry to the nozzle guide vanes of the
turbine. The air not used for combustion, which amounts to about 60 per cent of the
total airflow, is therefore introduced progressively into the flame tube. Approximately
half of this is used to lower the gas temperature before it enters the turbine and the
other half is used for cooling the walls of the flame tube. Combustion should be
completed before the dilution air enters the flame tube, otherwise the incoming air will
cool the flame and incomplete combustion will result.
An electric spark from an igniter plug initiates combustion and the flame is then selfsustaining.
The design of a combustion chamber and the method of adding the fuel may vary
considerably, but the airflow distribution used to effect and maintain combustion is
always very similar to that described.

Apportioning the Airflow


Figure 5.2
5.3.

FUEL SUPPLY

So far little has been said of the way in which the fuel is supplied to the air stream. In
general, however, two distinct principles are in use, one based on the injection of a
finely atomised spray into a recirculating air stream, and the other based on the prevaporisation of the fuel before it enters the combustion zone.
Although the injection of fuel by atomiser jets is the most common method, some
engines use the fuel vaporising principle. In this instance, the flame tube is of the
same general shape as for atomisation, but has no swirl vanes or flare. The primary
airflow passes through holes in a baffle plate that supports a fuel feed tube.

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MODULE 15/17
PROPULSION
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A Vaporising Combustion Chamber.


Figure 5.3.
The fuel is sprayed from the feed tube into vaporising tubes that are positioned inside
the flame tube. These tubes bend through 180 degrees and, as they are heated by
combustion, the fuel vaporises before passing forwards into the flame tube. The
primary airflow passes down the vaporising tubes with the fuel and also through large
(secondary) nozzles, which provide 'fans' of air to sweep the flame rearwards.
Cooling and dilution air is metered into the flame tube in a manner similar to the
atomiser flame tube. Vaporisers require starter spray nozzles to set the light up
process in motion.
5.4.

TYPES OF COMBUSTION CHAMBER

There are three main types of combustion chamber at present in use for gas turbine
engines. These are the multiple chamber, the tubo-annular chamber and the annular
chamber.
5.4.1. MULTIPLE COMBUSTION CHAMBER
This type of combustion chamber is used on centrifugal compressor engines and the
earlier types of axial flow compressor engines. It is a direct development of the early
type of Whittle combustion chamber. The major difference is that the Whittle
chamber had a reverse flow as this created a considerable pressure loss, the straight
through multiple chamber was developed by Joseph Lucas Limited.
The chambers are disposed around the engine and compressor delivery air is
directed by ducts to pass into the individual chambers. Each chamber has an inner
flame tube around which there is an air casing. The air passes through the flame
tube snout and also between the tube and the outer casing as already described.
The separate flame tubes are all interconnected. This allows each tube to operate at
the same pressure and also allows combustion to propagate around the flame tubes
during engine starting.

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Multiple Combustion Chambers.


Figure 5.4.

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5.4.2. TUBO-ANNULAR COMBUSTION CHAMBER


5.4.3. (ALSO KNOWN AS CAN-ANNULAR OR CANNULAR.)
The tubo-annular combustion chamber is a combination of the multiple and annular
types. A number of flame tubes are fitted inside a common air casing. The airflow is
similar to that already described and this arrangement embodies the ease of
overhaul and testing of the multiple system with the compactness of the annular
system.

Turbo-Annular Combustion System


Figure 5.5.

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5.4.4. ANNULAR COMBUSTION CHAMBER


This type of combustion chamber consists of a single flame tube, completely annular
in form, which is contained in an inner and outer casing. The airflow through the
flame tube is similar to that previously described, the chamber being open at the front
to the compressor and at the rear to the turbine nozzles.
The main advantage of the annular chamber is that, for the same power output, the
length of the chamber is only 75 per cent of that of a tubo-annular system for an
engine of the same diameter, resulting in considerable saving of weight and
production cost. Another advantage is that because interconnectors are not
required, the propagation of combustion is improved.
In comparison with a tubo-annular combustion system, the wall area of a comparable
annular chamber is much less; consequently, the amount of cooling air required to
prevent the burning of the flame tube wall is less, by approximately 15 per cent. This
reduction in cooling air raises the combustion efficiency, to virtually eliminate unburnt
fuel, and oxidises the carbon monoxide to non-toxic carbon dioxide, thus reducing air
pollution.
The introduction of the air spray type burner to this type of combustion chamber also
greatly improves the preparation of fuel for combustion by aerating the over-rich
pockets of fuel vapour close to the burner; this results in a large reduction in initial
carbon formation.
A high by-pass ratio engine will also reduce air pollution, since for a given thrust the
engine burns less fuel.

An Air Spray Fuel Nozzle.


Figure 5.6.

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JAR 66 CATEGORY B1
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PROPULSION
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Annular Combustion Chamber.


Figure 5.7.

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5.4.5. REVERSE FLOW COMBUSTION CHAMBER


Reverse flow combustion chambers are used where the engine length is critical or
where the thrust of the engine is not being produced by the exhaust of the primary
air. They are often found on APUs, turboprop and turbo-shaft engines or their
derivatives such as the ALF 502 and LF507 engines used in the BAE 146 and RJ
aircraft.
By wrapping the combustion chamber around other components such as turbines the
length of the engine can be significantly reduced. Losses in thrust do occur due to
the changes in airflow and direction of pressure forces. This is not important in the
types of engine where they are used as the majority of the thrust is derived by other
sources.
They are often found on engines with compound compressors, which have a
centrifugal stages as the last stage of compression.

5.5.

Reverse Flow Combustion Chamber.


Figure 5.8.
COMBUSTION CHAMBER PERFORMANCE

A combustion chamber must be capable of allowing fuel to burn efficiently over a


wide range of operating conditions without incurring a large pressure loss. In
addition, if flame extinction occurs, then it must be possible to relight. In performing
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JAR 66 CATEGORY B1
MODULE 15/17
PROPULSION
SYSTEMS

these functions, the flame tube and burner atomiser components must be
mechanically reliable.
Because the gas turbine engine operates on a constant pressure cycle, any loss of
pressure during the process of combustion must be kept to a minimum. In providing
adequate turbulence and mixing, a total pressure loss varying from about 5 to 10 per
cent of the air pressure at entry to the chamber is incurred.

5.5.1. COMBUSTION INTENSITY


The heat released by a combustion chamber or any other heat generating unit is
dependent on the volume of the combustion area. Thus, to obtain the required high
power output, a comparatively small and compact gas turbine combustion chamber
must release heat at exceptionally high rates.
For example, a Rolls-Royce Spey engine will consume in its ten flame tubes 7,500 lb.
of fuel per hour. The fuel has a calorific value of approximately 18,550 British
Thermal Units per lb., therefore each flame tube releases nearly 232,000 British
Thermal Units per minute. Expressed in another way, this is an expenditure of
potential heat at a rate equivalent to approximately 54,690 horsepower for the whole
engine.

Graph of Combustion Efficiency to Overall Air/Fuel Ratio.


Figure 5.9.

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5.6.

JAR 66 CATEGORY B1
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PROPULSION
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COMBUSTION EFFICIENCY

The combustion efficiency of most gas turbine engines at sea-level take-off


conditions is 100 per cent which reduces to 98 per cent at altitude cruise conditions.
The values vary as shown in because of the reducing air pressure, temperature and
fuel/air ratio.

5.7.

COMBUSTION STABILITY

Combustion stability means smooth burning and the ability of the flame to remain
alight over a wide operating range.
For any particular type of combustion chamber there is both a rich and a weak limit to
the air/fuel ratio, beyond which the flame is extinguished. An extinction is most likely
to occur in flight during a glide or dive with the engine idling, when there is a high
airflow and only a small fuel flow, i.e. a very weak mixture strength.
The range of air/fuel ratio between the rich and weak limits is reduced with an
increase of air velocity, and if the air mass flow is increased beyond a certain value,
flame extinction occurs. A typical stability loop is illustrated. The operating range
defined by the stability loop must obviously cover the required air/fuel ratios and
mass flow of the combustion chamber.
The ignition process has weak and rich limits similar to those shown for stability. The
ignition loop, however, lies within the stability loop, since it is more difficult to
establish combustion under cold' conditions than to maintain normal burning.

5.8.

Combustion Stability Limits


Figure 5.10.
POLLUTION CONTROL

5.8.1. INTRODUCTION
Pollution of the atmosphere by gas turbine engines falls into two categories; visible
(ie. smoke) and invisible constituents (eg. oxides or nitrogen, unburnt hydrocarbons,
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JAR 66 CATEGORY B1
MODULE 15/17
PROPULSION
SYSTEMS

oxides of sulphur and carbon monoxide). The combination of the traditional types of
HP burner (eg. Duplex) with increasing compression ratios has led to visible smoke
during take-off and climb. The very strong public opinion against pollution of the
atmosphere has forced engine manufacturers to develop methods of reducing smoke
and other emissions.

5.8.2. SOURCES OF POLLUTION


Pollution occurs from incomplete combustion. When engines with high compression
ratios (ie. above 15:1) are fitted with the traditional type of atomising burner, the high
temperature, pressure and low turbulence within the combustion chamber prohibits
adequate atomisation of the fuel when the engine is operating at low altitude, thus
causing the formation of carbon particles. This can be reduced to an acceptable
level by improving the airflow inside the combustion chamber and by introducing
burners that are not so susceptible to changes in pressure
5.9.

EMISSIONS

The unwanted pollutants which are found in the exhaust gases are created within the
combustion chamber. There are four main pollutants which are legislatively
controlled; unburnt hydrocarbons (unburnt fuel), smoke (carbon particles), carbon
monoxide and oxides of nitrogen. The principal conditions which affect the formation
of pollutants are pressure, temperature and time.
In the fuel rich regions of the primary zone, the hydrocarbons are converted into
carbon monoxide and smoke. Fresh dilution air can be used to oxidise the carbon
monoxide and smoke into non-toxic carbon dioxide within the dilution zone. Unburnt
hydrocarbons can also be reduced in this zone by continuing the combustion process
to ensure complete combustion.
Oxides of nitrogen are formed under the same conditions as those required for the
suppression of the other pollutants. Therefore it is desirable to cool the flame as
quickly as possible and to reduce the time available for combustion. This conflict of
conditions requires a compromise to be made, but continuing improvements in
combustor design and performance has led to a substantially 'cleaner' combustion
process.

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JAR 66 CATEGORY B1
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PROPULSION
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Olympus 593 Smoke Results


Figure 5.11.

Pilot
fuel

Main
fuel

Dump
diffuser

Main stage
Exhaust gases
to turbine

Compressor
air

Pilot
stage

BMW Rolls Royce are testing an axially staged combustion chamber for the BR715
engine, they claim it will cut the NOx by 50% without increasing CO, UHC and smoke
emissions.
Figure 5.12.
x

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5.10. MATERIALS
The containing walls and internal parts of the combustion chamber must be capable
of resisting the very high gas temperature in the primary zone. In practice, this is
achieved by using the best heat resisting materials available, the use of high heat
resistant coatings and by cooling the inner wall of the flame tube as an insulation
from the flame.
The combustion chamber must also withstand corrosion due to the products of the
combustion, creep failure due to temperature gradients and fatigue due to vibrational
stresses.

Methods of Cooling the Flame Tube.


Figure 5.13.

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