The tonal sound production during thermoacoustic instability is detrimental to the components of gas turbine and rocket engines. Identifying the root cause and controlling this oscillatory instability would enable manufacturers to save in costs of power outages and maintenance. An optimal method is to identify the structures in the flow-field that are critical to tonal sound production and perform control measures to disrupt those “critical structures”. Passive control experiments were performed by injecting a secondary micro-jet of air onto the identified regions with critical structures in the flow-field of a bluff-body stabilized, dump, turbulent combustor. Simultaneous measurements such as unsteady pressure, velocity, local and global heat release rate fluctuations are acquired in the regime of thermoacoustic instability before and after control action. The tonal sound production in this combustor is accompanied by a periodic flapping of the shear layer present in the region between the dump plane (backward-facing step) and the leading edge of the bluff-body. We obtain the trajectory of Lagrangian saddle points that dictate the flow and flame dynamics in the shear layer during thermoacoustic instability accurately by computing Lagrangian Coherent Structures. Upon injecting a secondary micro-jet with a mass flow rate of only 4% of the primary flow, nearly 90% suppression in the amplitude of pressure fluctuations are observed. The suppression thus results in sound pressure levels comparable to those obtained during stable operation of the combustor. Using Morlet wavelet transform, we see that the coherence in the dominant frequency of pressure and heat release rate oscillations during thermoacoustic instability is affected by secondary injection. The disruption of saddle point trajectories breaks the positive feedback loop between pressure and heat release rate fluctuations resulting in the observed break of coherence. Wavelet transform of global heat release rate shows a redistribution of energy content from the dominant instability frequency (acoustic time scale) to other time scales.

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