Lowry, William Baugh (2010-12). Effect of Blending on High-Pressure Laminar Flame Speed Measurements, Markstein Lengths, and Flame Stability of Hydrocarbons. Master's Thesis.
Natural gas is the primary fuel used in industrial gas turbines for power generation. Hydrocarbon blends of methane, ethane, and propane make up a large portion of natural gas and it has been shown that dimethyl ether can be used as a supplement or in its pure form for gas turbine combustion. Because of this, a fundamental understanding of the physical characteristics such as the laminar flame speed is necessary, especially at elevated pressures to have the most relevance to the gas turbine industry. This thesis discusses the equations governing premixed laminar flames, historical methods used to measure the laminar flame speed, the experimental device used in this study, the procedure for converting the measured data into the flame speed, the results of the measurements, and a discussion of the results. The results presented in this thesis include the flame speeds for binary blends of methane, ethane, propane, and dimethyl ether performed at elevated pressures, up to 10-atm initial pressure, using a spherically expanding flame in a constant-volume vessel. Also included in this thesis is a comparison between the experimental measurements and four chemical kinetic models. The C4 mechanism, developed in part through collaboration between the National University of Ireland Galway and Texas A&M, was improved using the data presented herein, showing good agreement for all cases. The effect of blending ethane, propane, and dimethyl ether with methane in binary form is emphasized in this study, with the resulting Markstein length, Lewis number (Le), and flame stability characterized and discussed. It was noticed in this study, as well as in other studies, that the critical radius of the flame typically decreased as the Le decreased, and that the critical radius of the flame increased as the Le increased. Also, a rigorous uncertainty analysis has been performed, showing a range of 0.3 cm/s to 3.5 cm/s depending on equivalence ratio and initial pressure.