As government regulations become increasingly strict with regards to combustion pollutant emissions, new gas turbine combustor designs must produce lower NOx while also maintaining acceptable combustor operability. The design and implementation of an efficient fuel/air premixer is paramount to achieving low emissions.

Options for improving the design of a natural gas fired heavy-duty gas turbine partially premixed fuel nozzle have been considered in the current study. In particular, the study focused on fuel injection and pilot/main interaction at high pressure and high inlet temperature.

NOx emissions results have been reported and analyzed for a baseline nozzle first. Available experience is shared in this paper in the form of a NOx correlative model, giving evidence of the consistency of current results with past campaigns.

Subsequently, new fuel nozzle premixer designs have been investigated and compared, mainly in terms of NOx emissions performance. The operating range of investigation has been preliminarily checked by means of a flame stability assessment. Adequate margin to lean blow out and thermo-acoustic instabilities onset has been found while also maintaining acceptable CO emissions.

NOx emission data were collected over a variety of fuel/air ratios and pilot/main splits for all the fuel nozzle configurations. Results clearly indicated the most effective design option in reducing NOx. In addition, the impact of each design modification has been quantified and the baseline correlative NOx emissions model calibrated to describe the new fuel nozzles behavior.

Effect of inlet air pressure has been evaluated and included in the models, allowing the extensive use of less costly reduced pressure test campaigns hereafter. Although the observed effect of combustor pressure drop on NOx is not dominant for this particular fuel nozzle, sensitivity has been performed to consolidate gathered experience and to make the model able to evaluate even small design changes affecting pressure drop.

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