Thermoacoustic instabilities result from the interaction between acoustic pressure oscillations and flame heat release rate fluctuations. These combustion instabilities are of particular concern due to their frequent occurrence in modern, low emission gas turbine engines. Their major undesirable consequence is a reduced time of operation due to large amplitude oscillations of the flame position and structural vibrations within the combustor. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) has now become one a key approach to understand and predict these instabilities at industrial readiness level. Still, predicting this phenomenon remains difficult due to modelling and computational challenges; this is even more true when physical parameters of the modelling process are uncertain, which is always the case in practical situations. Introducing Uncertainty Quantification for thermoacoustics is the only way to study and control the stability of gas turbine combustors operated under realistic conditions; this is the objective of this work.
First, a laboratory-scale combustor (with only one injector and flame) as well as two industrial helicopter engines (with N injectors and flames) are investigated. Calculations based on a Helmholtz solver and quasi analytical low order tool provide suitable estimates of the frequency and modal structures for each geometry. The analysis suggests that the flame response to acoustic perturbations plays the predominant role in the dynamics of the combustor. Accounting for the uncertainties of the flame representation is thus identified as a key step towards a robust stability analysis.
Second, the notion of Risk Factor, that is to say the probability for a particular thermoacoustic mode to be unstable, is introduced in order to provide a more general description of the system than the classical binary (stable/unstable) classification. Monte Carlo and surrogate modelling approaches are then combined to perform an uncertainty quantification analysis of the laboratory-scale combustor with two uncertain parameters (amplitude and time delay of the flame response).
It is shown that the use of algebraic surrogate models reduces drastically the number of state computations, thus the computational load, while providing accurate estimates of the modal risk factor. To deal with the curse of dimensionality, a strategy to reduce the number of uncertain parameters is further introduced in order to properly handle the two industrial helicopter engines.
The active subspace algorithm used together with a change of variables allows identifying three dominant directions (instead of N initial uncertain parameters) which are sufficient to describe the dynamics of the industrial systems. Combined with appropriate surrogate models construction, this allows to conduct computationally efficient uncertainty quantification analysis of complex thermoacoustic systems.
Third, the perspective of using adjoint method for the sensitivity analysis of thermoacoustic systems represented by 3D Helmholtz solvers is examined. The results obtained for 2D and 3D test cases are promising and suggest to further explore the potential of this method on even more complex thermoacoustic problems.
Members of the Jury :
M. Chris LACOR, Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Referee
M. Sébastien DUCRUIX, EM2C Laboratory, CentraleSupelec, Referee
M. Didier LUCOR, Pierre et Marie Curie University, Member
M. Stéphane RICHARD, Safran Helicopter Engines, Member
M. Thierry POINSOT, IMFT Toulouse, Co-Adviser
M. Franck NICOUD, Montpellier University, Adviser