A novel dry low-NOx gas turbine technology requires well balanced assessments since the early development phases. The weak knowledge of often conflicting aspects, such as operability and manufacturability, make any roadmap difficult to be drawn. The introduction of innovative manufacturing technologies such as the Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) process allows rapid manufacturing of components and test them in dedicated facilities to support real-time development of new products. The use of such a manufacturing process allows the adoption of designed experiments based development strategies, which are still uncommon at industrial level, due to the reduced time from drawings to test.

The paper describes a reactive test campaign performed by BHGE in cooperation with University of Florence, aimed at the exploration of capabilities of different innovative burners in terms of pollutant emissions containment and blow-out margin. In particular, the test campaign has been conceived to provide a robust estimate of the effects of key geometrical parameters on principal burner performances. The flame stabilization mechanism of the investigated burners is based on the swirling flow generated by different setup of two internal channels: co-rotating and counter-rotating radial and axial swirlers. The effect of both the shape and the size of the internal air passages, as well as of the swirler characteristics, has been matter of investigation.

Burners were tested in a single-cup test rig operated at moderate pressure conditions (up to 6bar), with two levels of preheated air temperature (300°C and 400°C). Each burner was equipped with two natural gas feeding lines representing the diffusion (pilot) and premixed (main) fuel supplies: both lines were regulated during tests to assess the effect of fuel split on emissions and to identify a stable low-NOx operating window, within which a lean blow-out test was performed. Dynamic pressure probes, were used to evaluate the onset of combustion instabilities.

The burner development was supported by CFD investigations with the purpose to have a detailed understating of the flow-field and flame structure and to perform a preliminary screening to select the most promising solutions for the testing phase.

The post process of the experimental results has allowed to correlate the main design parameters to burner performance variables discovering possible two-fold optimizations in terms of emissions and operability.

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