A lean premixed fuel injector/combustor typical of industrial gas turbine combustors has been analyzed using 3D Large Eddy Simulation (LES) methods. The objective of the study was to evaluate the 3D LES modeling approach for predicting combustion dynamics and compare it with simpler unsteady Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes (RANS) methods using 2D and 3D analyses. Large amplitude pressure oscillations were observed experimentally at the modeled operating conditions, and previous 2D axisymmetric unsteady RANS analysis has shown reasonable, but not perfect, engineering agreement with pressure measurements. Although the pressure amplitude was accurately predicted, the frequency was substantially in error. This study sought to see if 3D modeling would improve the agreement.

2D axisymmetric and full 3D calculations were performed with a state-of-the-art, unstructured-grid, parallel (domain decomposition) CFD code. For the unsteady RANS calculations, the RNG k-ε turbulence model was employed, while for the LES calculation the Smagorinsky subgrid turbulence model was employed. Surprisingly, the 2D unsteady RANS, 3D unsteady RANS, and 3D LES calculations gave nearly identical pressure oscillation predictions, and all calculations had the oscillation frequency around 280 Hertz. This work has shown that smaller turbulent structures captured with 3D LES have very little effect on capturing combustion instability driven primarily by a fuel time-lag.

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