Clinton Groth

University of Toronto
Project Title: Next generation low-emission combustor technologies for high-efficiency compact aviation gas turbine engines
Industry Partner: Pratt & Whitney Canada
Project Partner: Ömer Gülder, Adam Steinberg, Cecile Devaud
Project Title: Improved numerical combustion models for understanding and predicting nvPM/Soot formation and emissions in aviation gas turbine engines
Platforms: Blue Gene/Q, Cloud Analytics

Advanced Manufacturing Energy

Next generation low-emission combustor technologies for high-efficiency compact aviation gas turbine engines

The primary objective of the proposed research is to develop next-generation combustor technologies for aviation gas turbine engines that produce extremely low emissions and higher fuel efficiency, while reducing development times/costs and maintenance requirements. Impacts will be realized in terms of local air quality/public health, climate change, sustainability, and commercial engine sales.

The current design priorities of aviation gas turbine combustors are operability, efficiency, emissions, durability, compatibility with the main engine core, and safety. Today’s combustors for small aviation gas turbine engines provide reliable and dependable service. However, increasingly stringent emissions regulations are being enacted (e.g. by the International Civil Aviation Organization) that impose tighter criteria for emissions. Moreover, combustor conditions are continuously becoming more extreme in terms of operating pressure and temperature in order to improve engine efficiency. These conditions result in increased maintenance requirements, and hence increased engine operating cost.

Future combustors for gas turbine engines are therefore in need of far-reaching design changes to meet these emissions requirements, while simultaneously being more cost effective and providing better operability/durability. These next generation combustor technologies are essential to help our main industrial partner, Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC), to maintain its market competitiveness in the small aviation gas turbine sector. P&WC is the leading manufacturer of small aviation gas turbine engines, and these engines are extensively used around the globe as well as in Ontario (e.g., all commercial aviation at Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport).

Together with the two industrial partners, P&WC and IBM Canada, we will design novel new combustors that have lower emissions per unit fuel consumed, less fuel consumption per unit thrust produced, and reduced maintenance requirements relative to current systems. This will be achieved by combining the state-of-the-art experimental, computational, and analytical capabilities of the university research team with the practical gas turbine design knowledge of P&WC engineers and the high-performance computing (HPC) expertise of IBM.

Improved numerical combustion models for understanding and predicting nvPM/Soot formation and emissions in aviation gas turbine engines

Aviation gas turbine engines that burn hydrocarbon based fuels emit nanometer-sized carbonaceous non-volatile (not readily vaporized) particulate matter (nvPM) in addition to the usual gaseous emissions, such as green-house gases (GHG, largely CO2, actually a combustion product), nitric oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO). Also known as soot, smoke, or black carbon, these very small size nvPM has been shown to have significant impact on global warming and climate change by altering the radiation balance in the atmosphere through induced cloud cover and deposition of PM on artic ice.

For these reasons, the manufacturers of gas turbine engines are today facing more and more stringent governmental and/or environmental regulations pertaining to PM emissions and there is a pressing need for reduced emission strategies. Unfortunately, the physical processes governing how nvPM and its precursors are formed in the high pressure flames and combustion systems of gas turbines is currently a matter of intense debate and a complete fundamental understanding of soot formation and emission processes is not firmly established.

The proposed two-year research project will consider the development of new and improved mathematical theory and computational models for understanding and predicting nvPM formation and emissions in aviation gas turbine engines. Through collaboration with the industrial partner, Pratt &Whitney Canada, this new knowledge and understanding will be subsequently transferred to an industrial setting where it will be put to use in the design of next-generation gas turbine engines having reduced PM emissions.