In the present paper a numerical analysis of a low NOx partially premixed burner for industrial gas turbine applications is presented. The first part of the work is focused on the study of the premixing process inside the burner. Standard RANS CFD approach was used: k–ε turbulence model was modified and calibrated in order to find a configuration able to fit available experimental profiles of fuel/air concentration at the exit of the burner. The resulting profiles at different test points have been used to perform reactive simulations of an experimental test rig, where exhaust NOx emissions were measured. An assessment of the turbulent combustion model was carried out with a critical investigation of the expected turbulent combustion regimes in the system and taking into account the partially premixed nature of the flame due to the presence of diffusion type pilot flames. A reliable numerical setup was discovered by comparing predicted and measured NOx emissions at different operating conditions and at different split ratio between main and pilot fuel. In the investigated range, the influence of the premixer in the NOx formation rate was found to be marginal if compared with the pilot flame one. The calibrated numerical setup was then employed to explore possible modifications to fuel injection criteria and fuel split, with the aim of minimizing exhaust NOx emissions. This preliminary numerical screening of alternative fuel injection strategies allowed to define a set of advanced configurations to be investigated in future experimental tests.

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