combuster - burner

The combustion chamber has the difficult task of burning large quantities of fuel, supplied through fuel spray nozzles, with extensive volumes of air, supplied by the compressor, and releasing the resulting heat in such a manner that the air is expanded and accelerated to give a smooth stream of uniformly heated gas. This task must be accomplished with the minimum loss in pressure and with the maximum heat release within the limited space available.

The amount of fuel added to the air will depend upon the temperature rise required. However, the maximum temperature is limited to within the range of 850 to 1700 C by the materials from which the turbine blades and nozzles are made. The air has already been heated to between 200 and 550 C by the work done in the compressor, giving a temperature rise requirement of 650 to 1150 C from the combustion process. Since the gas temperature determines the engine thrust, the combustion chamber must be capable of maintaining stable and efficient combustion over a wide range of engine operating conditions.

The temperature of the gas after combustion is about 1800 to 2000 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 percent of the total airflow, is therefore introduced progressively into the flame tube. Approximately one third of this gas is used to lower the temperature inside the combustor; the remainder is used for cooling the walls of the flame tube.

There are three main types of combustion chamber in use for gas turbine engines. These are the the multiple chamber, the can-annular chamber and the annular chamber.

Multiple 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 engine combustion chamber. Chambers are disposed radially around the engine and compressor delivery air is directed by ducts into the individual chambers. Each chamber has an inner flame tube around which there is an air casing. 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.

A multiple combustion chamber

Can-annular chamber

This type of combustion chamber bridges the evolutionary gap between multiple and annular types. A number of flame tubes are fitted inside a common air casing. The airflow is similar to that already described. This arrangement combines the ease of overhaul and testing of the multiple system with the compactness of the annular system.

A can-annular combustion chamber

Annular 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 main advantage of the annular combustion chamber is that for the same power output, the length of the chamber is only 75 per cent of that of a can-annular system of the same diameter, resulting in a considerable saving in weight and cost. Another advantage is the elimination of combustion propagation problems from chamber to chamber.

  • An annular combustion chamber