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Energy Procedia 101 (2016) 933 – 940

71st Conference of the Italian Thermal Machines Engineering Association, ATI2016, 14-16
September 2016, Turin, Italy

CFD Study of a MGT Combustor supplied with Syngas
Carmelina Abagnale, Maria Cristina Cameretti*, Roberta De Robbio, Raffaele Tuccillo
Department of Industrial Engineering (D.I.I.), Università di Napoli Federico II, Napoli, Italy


The authors discuss in this paper the potential of a micro gas turbine (MGT) combustor when operated under unconventional
conditions, in terms of variation in the fuel supplied. The authors' expertise in the field of micro-combustor has addressed, in
recent years, some topics of current interest, as the fuelling with gaseous and liquid biofuels and the NOx reduction through the
optimization of the combustor.While the previous authors' works were mainly referring to a tubular combustor of a 100kW MGT,
the present proposal deals with an annular, reverse flow combustor of a 30 kW MGT. In this case the particular location of both
the injectors and of the secondary and diluting holes allows the combustor process to develop under nearly RQL conditions. This
is of special interest when supplying the combustion chamber with low LHV fuels. In addition, recent authors' papers have
demonstrated that the integration of the MGT with a solar field leads the combustor to require a decreased fuel/air equivalence
ratio because of the higher air entry temperature. Under these aspects, the existence of a Rich region within the combustor may
be helpful for the early phases of the oxidation process. The pollutant formation rates should be effectively controlled by the
secondary (Quick-mix) and diluting (Lean) air flows.The authors' methodology relies on an advanced CFD approach that makes
use of a reaction scheme coupled with an accurate study of the turbulent interaction of the reacting species. Extended kinetic
mechanisms are also included in the combustion model. A preliminary set-up of the model will be based on the combustion
analysis with boundary conditions provided by thermodynamic analysis of the micro-turbine.
Several computational examples are discussed, namely:
- The analysis of the combustor response with reduced equivalence ratios or changes in the inlet air conditions;
-The comparison of combustion efficiency and pollutant production with different fuels.

© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Peer-review under responsibility ofthe Scientific Committee of ATI 2016.
Peer-review under responsibility of the Scientific Committee of ATI 2016.
Keywords:Micro Gas Turbines, Biofuels, CFD

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +39-081-7683299
E-mail address:

1876-6102 © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
Peer-review under responsibility of the Scientific Committee of ATI 2016.

because it presents a very high adiabatic temperature of flame. difficulties in emission control and fouling. in order to quantify the advantage of using a dedicated design:the first configuration consists of the original design for natural gas. major species and gas emissions. However. higher temperatures in the primary zone benefit the performances. low calorific value. by using hydrogen/methane blended fuels with a variable volumetric fraction of hydrogen from 0% to 80%. but only shape and dimensions. In the paper [1] the authors have investigated all these aspects. using a syngas fuel derived from pyrolysis of biomass and a case of syngas and natural gas cofiring. which has not yet reached a level of technological maturity that could allow a large market diffusion. distributions of flame temperature. two dimensional. Reference [8] presents the development and the application of numerical code for gas-turbine combustion with a fuel whose composition is modeled after a hydrogen-rich synthesis gas. an assumed PDF approach takes effects of temperature and species turbulent fluctuations. Similar studies can be found in [2-5]. turbulent. therefore a H2-rich syngas may be a good solution for the fuel with higher CO content: the produced flame is shorter and concentrated in the primary zone. Moreover. Introduction The use of synthesis fuels on micro-turbine devices represent an important solution for power generation and cogeneration. but NOx emissions are higher at higher hydrogen content for the same syngas percentage. the presence of hydrogen in the fuel is one of the most important characteristic of these new fuels. the interest in CO 2-free energy systems and the large availability of wastes and biomass are encouraging the research to increase the efforts in order to improvetheir performances and reliability. the analysis shows that the internal temperature hot spots are reduced.A more detailed study on the changes to the combustion chamber can be read in [6]. and a finite-rate model is implemented for the chemistry.Also the papers [10] and [11] show that temperatures decrease with a small amount of syngas. In [9] the authors implement a micro gas turbine which is originally designed as a natural gas fired engine. ratio of tertiary to primary air. in recent years. thus it is fundamental to better understand the combustion performance when a variable fraction of hydrogen is burned. resulting in lower exit temperature and lower NO x and CO2 emissions. Nitric oxides decrease with increasing syngas percentages. In fact. combustion instabilities. The results show the detailed flame structure including flow fields. hydrogen content. A k-ε model and PDF for chemical reaction between methane/hydrogen/air mixture were used. while the NOx formation mechanism is modeled through a non- adiabatic PDF approach. Also the authors in previous works [12- 14] investigated on a micro-combustor. the second configuration is characterized by a modified design optimized for syngas. Various parameters are changed: ratio of secondary to primary air.addressing their research towardthe fuelling with gaseous and liquid biofuels and the NOx reduction through the optimization of the pilot injector location in LP or LPP micro-combustors. the physical phenomena are simulated with a k-ε turbulence model. also in this case pyrolysis gas. A comparison between experimental and numerical data shows that the fuel composition does not influence the overall behavior of the flame. The CFD is used as a key instrument to identify criticalities arising when the gas turbine is fed with syngas instead of natural gas. particularly on a Winnox-TUD-Combustor with a steady. The investigation is carried out with a revised kinetic scheme implemented in the RANS analysis. Standard Adiabatic Flame Temperature MGT Micro Gas Turbine RQL Rich Quickly Lean .In [7] the study is conducted on an annular rich-quench-lean combustion chamber in two configurations. number of inlets of the secondary air and their direction. but the primary zone flame tends to stabilize closer to the injector. axisymmetric and swirling flow. in order to modify existing geometries and to develop new generation combustion chambers which use low calorific value gases. with possible implications on the emissions release.934 Carmelina Abagnale et al. which may turn into ignition problems. synthesis gases show significant differences in terms of composition. Nomenclature LHV Lower Heat Value fst stoichiometric fuel/air ratio f overall fuel/air ratio φ Fuel/air Equivalence Ratio Tof. This investigation is carried out on a specific case. However. tar and particulate matter content. / Energy Procedia 101 (2016) 933 – 940 1. As stated.

In particular. Carmelina Abagnale et al. 1Combustor cross section Domain Nodes Elements Core 18436 76845 Injector 45768 213061 Liner 39452 171784 All 103656 461690 Fig 2Injector geometry Fig. two cases (7 and 8) were examined by assigning a value of temperature on the wall of the inner liner according to preliminary results carried out with a finer 2D mesh.The case 2 presents the swirl motion on the principal air and case 3 differs from the first case only for the number of open holes. the mesh size is shown. The created geometry differs slightly from the real one due to the lack of official data from the manufacturer. the figure 3 shows the mesh used for computations after a sensitivity analysis carried out by varying its resolution. it was possible to carry out the study just on a third of the domain (a 120° sector). . Combustor Design and Meshing The combustor of C-30 gas turbine is a reverse flow annular combustor. the first row was added to the aim of analyzing the combustion process by varying oxidant intake distribution throughout the primary zone. The combustor dimensions were chosen arbitrarily according to those which could be the most likely. The aim of this work is to analyse which configuration can give the best results in order to reduce the overall emissions of pollutants. Computational Analysis and Results The CFD analysis was performed with the 3D ANSYS-FLUENT solver of the reacting flow by introducing for each case the related boundary conditions provided preliminary by a thermal cycle analysis. In the same figure. 16. a CAD design (figure 1) has been realized by using Catia V5R17 tool. The solid geometry was transferred to ANSYS Workbench to be properly set before proceeding with the fluid-dynamic computations. Starting from the combustor geometry sketches that are available in literature [15. In figure 2 the injector model is shown. in order to check the impact of the wall heat exchange (which was neglected due to the long computational time required). like reported in table 1. / Energy Procedia 101 (2016) 933 – 940 935 1. Injector Due to the periodicity of the combustor.The set case that presents the best compromise between the emissions of nitric oxides and carbon monoxide was taken as a reference for a comparison with three other syngas fuels: from biogas gasification with oxygen for case 4. Finally. if basing on the size of the whole C30 generator set. In the table 2 the examined test cases are shown. to reduce the computational effort. The case 1 is assumed as the basic case because it replicates the real behavior with the first row of holes closed. Fig. Finally. from anaerobic digestion for case 5 and pyrolysis of solid waste for case 6. 17]. The swirl effect is ensured by deviating the slots from radial direction. where the heat transfer model between the two parts of the fluid domain which are separated by the internal liner was used. 3 Three-Dimensional Mesh 2.

in the case 3 the peak of CO is drastically reduced while the NO formation is higher due to the air flow rate from the row 1 (figures 7and 8). Computational results (cases 1. approximate the pattern in a RQL micro-combustor [18]. two different planes were chosen to display the contours of the most important properties and species.05% Case #6 Case1 with Solid Waste fuel CO2 [kg/h] (kg/kWh) 24.The emission values are expressed as percent variations with respect to the base case.0026 Fuel Energy rate [kW] 115.41 1.68 In this way only the trend of the emissions has been analyzedby varying the geometry.812) Case #8 Case1+Closed 3^ row of holes – Twall assigned The combustion development is modelled by a typical finite rate – eddy dissipation scheme. varying the inlet air in the primary zone the vortex pattern variation is noted and.936 Carmelina Abagnale et al.12 2.6 Temperature distributions (cases 1. that founds on a chemical kinetics set for the oxidation of the several species constituting the fuel (only the CH 4and C3H8 oxidation proceeds through two steps. therefore. 3).2 -.4 -12. the latter estimated by a k-w model.In fact. . 2. Test cases examined Fuel flow rate [kg/s] 0. Fig. the transversal and the longitudinal plane. 5) not present in the other two cases. 2 . 51. not having available experimental data as reference. In fact. according to equations (1). -. Fig.71 2.7 16.86 Case#2 1161 2707 35.In the figure 4 it is possible to notice that theinjector geometry is able to give the swirl motion to fuel in all cases considered. The nitric oxide prediction includes the computation of both thermal and prompt NO. -. In these three test cases different air motion is present by varying the air inlet in the primary zone: in the case 3 is evident the vortex in the plane longitudinal (fig. 2.41 Case#3 1203 2682 134 -49.69 38. This last result has a good correspondence with the temperature distributions in the figure 6 that. both crossing the injector. In the table 3 the results are reported assuming the case 1 as the basic one. 3). %ṁ row %ṁ row %ṁ row Tout [K] Tmax [K] NO [%] CO [%] CH4 [%] %ṁ row 3 1 2 4 Case# 1 1176 2557 -. / Energy Procedia 101 (2016) 933 – 940 Table 1.5 33.Swirl on principal air Recovered Heat from exhausts [kW] 51. i. partial and CO oxidation). 51. the residence times change in the combustor core. 5 Streamlines (cases 1.No heat exchange (0.63 34.84 25. The related reaction rates are compared with those evaluated by the turbulent mixing of the reactants. -. as expected.695 Case #4 Case1with BIOM O fuel Case #5 Case1with BIOM (AD) fuel Overall Electric efficiency 26. Table 3. MGT thermodynamic data Table 2.Fig.71 39.e.3). To represent the results. according to the standard models implement in the FLUENT® flow solver.4 Streamlines in the injector.8 11.37 Case #7 Case1 +Closed 3^ row of holes .4 Case #1 1^ row of holes closed Fuel Heat rate [kJ/kWh] 14208 Case #2 1^ row of holes closed . It is possible to notice as the first row of air holes open (case 3) influences the NO and CO amount: in this case the NO increases while the CO decreases.33 Case #3 All holes open Fuel Energy Utilization factor 0.

3) 3. 2 . 8 CO distribution (cases 1.1>O @1. Carmelina Abagnale et al.3) Fig.236 ˜ 10 11 exp¨  ¨ RT ¸ >CO @ ¸ 2 © ¹ 7 3) C2 H 6  O 2 o 2 CO2  3 H 2O 2 § 1.256 ˜ 10 8 · ^R f 6.6 ¸ 4 10 2 © ¹ (1) Fig. three different syngas were tested and the case 1 has been assumed as reference because it presents the lowest emissions of NO at the cost of a slight increase of CO.5217 ¸ 4 2 © ¹ 1 2) CO  O 2 l CO2 2 ^R f § 9.72 ˜ 10 8 · 1. / Energy Procedia 101 (2016) 933 – 940 937 3 1) CH 4  O 2 o CO  2 H 2O 2 ^R f § 1. 2 .46>O @0.1>O @1.980 ˜ 10 11 exp¨  ¨ RT · ¸ >CO @1.161 ˜ 10  09 exp¨  ¨ RT ¸ >C H @0.65 ¸ 2 6 2 © ¹ 7 4) C3 H 8  O 2 o 3 CO  4 H 2O 2 § 1.256 ˜ 10 8 · ^R f 5.6804>O @1.65 ¸ 3 8 2 © ¹ 13 5) C4 H10  O 2 o 4 CO2  5 H 2O 2 § 1.186 ˜ 10  09 exp¨  ¨ RT ¸ >C H @0.57 ¸ 2 © ¹ ^Rb § 5.659 ˜ 10 12 exp¨  ¨ RT ¸ >CH @1. Syngas fuels Finally.177 ˜ 10 8 · 2. . In table 4the fuel proprieties are reported.15>O @1.62 ˜ 10  09 exp¨  ¨ RT ¸ >C H @0.7 NO distribution (cases 1.65 ˜ 10  7 7.256 ˜ 10 8 · ^R f 4.

5 and 6).145 0.938 Carmelina Abagnale et al. Nat. 18.00 for the NO distribution in figure 10.00 -.00 -.00 18. / Energy Procedia 101 (2016) 933 – 940 Thus the cases 4. 4. in Table 4 agreement with the data in table 6 which reports the flame Fuel Compos. with lower CO amount at the outlet even C4H10 0. -.70 2.79 40. it does not burn completely.7 44. 7. kJ/kg 47182 19198 20183 21697 combustion chamber. Table 5.90 8.06 Case #6 1183 2689 39. The high temperatures lead to C3H8 1.0087 0.04 2. due to presence of H2.1203 exchange through the walls of the inner liner. 4.57 2. -- N 2.7 -. by absorbing the heat from reaction. Gas BIOM temperature: fuels from biomass with oxygen and from solid (%.3 -27.46 1000 K.137 0. fst 0.CH4 is CO2 0. -- though carbon monoxide is the species more prevalent in the fuels H2 -. 5 and 6).8 -1.92 25.34 0. The figure 9 shows that the cases 4 and 6 present distributions with wide zones at high temperature.69 38.1680 0.15 10.0184 φ 0.00 -. -- 2 However.6 -8. have the highest temperature and CH4 92.00 2. 5 and 6 keep the same set of conditions but the fuel type and the mass flow rate are changed according to table 5. molar) (NG) BIOM O (AD) SW wastes.0198 0.17 0.0208 0.00 65. which does not participate to Mol.123 0. the calculations described Tof.00 35.71 2.00 -.8 -93. 52.08 2. 10 NO distribution (cases 1. A comparison was made between two cases (with and without heat transfer).136 0. carried out with a simpler geometry in which the holes of row 3 were deleted because their diameters caused the presence of a high number of small cells and therefore to evaluate only the effect of the wall heat transfer. 53.00 7.00 a better combustion.0026realized assigning to the walls a temperature equal to BIOM O 13198 2. 33. Table 6. value obtained by preliminary test cases 0.83 23. -.005655 computational times. -. Mass. H O -. 4. 5 and 6). 7.27 Case #5 1165 2511 -31. for the case 5 there are the CO -. 61.006081 performed with a 2D mesh with reduced SW 21697 2. Tout [K] Tmax [K] NO [%] CO [%] CH4 [%] %ṁ row 1 %ṁ row 2 %ṁ row 3 %ṁ row 4 Case #1 1176 2557 -.00 -. 9 Temperature distribution (cases 1.00 highest values of unburned methane at the outlet: in fact.2 -.86 Case #4 1140 2735 50.00 they produce higher nitrogen oxides. Syngas flow rates LHV [kJ/kg] LHVGN/LHVsyngas For this reason. a last simulation has been Fuel mass flow [kg/s] GN 47182 1 0. For the same reason.00 -- the only reactant specie in the fuel from anaerobic digestion. -. 53. 51.00 2 (figure 11).0 -. 25. thanks to the absence of hydrogen and the presence of carbon monoxide.81 40. even if CH4presents a lower concentration than NG.76 combustion and probablyit also reduces the temperature in the LHV. Fig.72 39.00 -. Similar behavior is evident C2H6 3.006393 BIOM (AD) 20183 2.34 21. Computational results (cases 1. g/mol 17.05 Fig. K 2220 2231 2126 2300 before don't provide the heat transfer model to simulate the heat f 0.6 14.1530 To reduce the computational effort.0620 0. .25 2. -.

so that less air is added reducing the NO formation. by varying the number of holes or by assigning swirl motion on the inlet air flow. as shown in the same figure. Results show that the best configuration is the one in which the row of holes near the primary zone is closed. 4.6 8. Carmelina Abagnale et al.activating the heat Tout [K] Case #7 -. a sort of off-design operation is induced by the employment of low calorific value fuels in the combustor.1 -51. 2686 exchange.Moreover.with a consequent NO reduction (about of 1133 50%). In fact. but a better combustion of . A CFD study was carried out by using the 3-D Fluent code. Conclusions The authors examined in this paper the response of a micro gas turbine (MGT) combustor when supplied with gaseous fuels from biomass treatment. 4. by varying the number of liner holes. the two syngas obtained from biomass gasification and pyrolysis present a Fig. the figure 12 displays the fluid layer near the wall. The objective is to optimize the combustor behaviour under the point of view of combustion efficiency and pollutant control. 11CO mass fraction distributions (cases 1. The NO distributions follow the temperature ones.strong increase of nitrogen oxides. the table 7 confirms that. in fact. -. Actually. 5 and 6). / Energy Procedia 101 (2016) 933 – 940 939 Fig. 8). different configurations of the combustor have been investigated on a three-dimensional geometry. 1193 the maximum temperature decreases by about 200 Case #8 -7.which allows not only to reduce the peaks but also the extension of the zone at high temperature. -.with a detailed injector. Tab.3 2499 K. 12 Temperature and NO distributions (cases 7. several solutions are experienced. The calculations indicate that using a different fuel does not mean a reduction of pollutants. To this aim. This configuration was further examined by changing only the fuel. 7 Computational results (cases 7. 8) CH4 [%] CO [%] NO [%] Tmax [K] As expected.

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