Multiple swirlers arranged in an annular fashion are used in modern day gas turbine engines. A section of this annulus can be considered as a straight line or what is referred to in the paper as a linear arrangement of swirlers. Three such linear arrangements are computationally analyzed and results are presented through this study. Study of linear arrangements is crucial and novel to the swirler aerodynamics research as it lays a foundation in understanding the flow physics when swirlers are arranged at a fixed distance next to each other. Swirling flows are complicated and when slight modifications are introduced in physical arrangements the flow is impacted drastically. In the present study observations have been presented on effect of changing the offset of exit plane of swirler from the base wall of confinement when there is a single swirler or a linear arrangement of swirlers.
Computational simulations of flow through single and multi-swirler array have been carried out to understand the effect of the distance of exit plane of swirler from the base wall of confinement on the swirler aerodynamics. The swirlers used in this study are radial-radial swirlers with counter rotating vanes. The computational domain extended from the inlet manifold to 12 D downstream from the swirler where D is the diameter of swirler exit. Realizable k-ε turbulence model is used and the computational grid is about 4 million points for a single swirler arrangement, about 12 million points for a three swirler array and up to 22 million for the five swirler arrangement. The computational model is validated by comparing the results with velocity measurements carried out at three different planes downstream of the swirler exit using LDV technique.
First, single swirler with the exit plane of swirler with an offset of 0.04 D and 0.02D with the base wall of confinement and that with no offset (swirler exit in-line with base wall of confinement) are analyzed. It is observed that flow development in region close to the swirler exit is highly sensitive to the offset condition. In case of 0.04D and 0.02D offset a strong jet is formed as soon as the air exits the swirler. The flow tends to progress vertically forming recirculation zones in the vicinity of corners of the horizontal and vertical walls. When there is no offset, the flow exiting the swirler tends to align with the base wall and then progresses vertically. Thus for no offset case a jet formation is not observed.
Next, multi-swirler arrangements with 0.04D, 0.02D offset as well as no offset configurations are simulated. All the swirlers tend to show similar pattern as single swirler arrangements with a slight difference in intensity of the flow field. For swirlers with offset of 0.04D and 0.02D there is formation of a strong jet exiting the swirler and recirculation zones are formed in corners of the base and vertical walls of the confinement as was observed for the single swirler arrangement. Recirculation zones are also formed in areas between each swirler assembly in the multi swirler arrangement. For the no offset condition it is again observed that flow aligns with the horizontal base wall for each of the swirler assembly. The axial velocity of the flow in this arrangement tends to be lower than the offset case in regions between each swirler.
An interesting phenomenon of multi swirler arrangement is an asymmetrical flow pattern that is observed at each swirler. While each swirler geometry is identical, the flow pattern as well as the strength of recirculation zone developed from each individual swirler differs significantly. Results show that alternate swirlers tend to exhibit similar flow characteristics.