Characterization of viscous biofuel sprays using digital imaging in the near field region

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The atomization of biodiesel, vegetable oil and glycerin has been studied in an atmospheric spray rig by using digital imaging (PDIA). Images of the spray were captured in the near field, just 18 mm downstream of the atomizer, and processed to automatically determine the size of both ligaments and droplets. The effect of the spray structure in this region is of major interest for the combustion of biofuels in gas turbines. The sprays were produced by a pressure-swirl atomizer that originates from the multifuel micro gas turbine (MMGT) setup. Various injection conditions have been tested to investigate the influence of viscosity on the spray characteristics and to assess the overall performance of the atomizer. The spray measurements have been compared to combustion experiments with biodiesel and vegetable oil in the micro gas turbine at similar injection conditions. The results show that the primary breakup process rapidly deteriorates when the viscosity is increased. A higher viscosity increases the breakup length, which becomes visible at the measurement location in the form of ligaments. This effect leads to an unacceptable spray quality once the viscosity slightly exceeds the typical range for conventional gas turbine fuels. The SMD in the investigated spray region was not significantly affected by viscosity, but mainly influenced by injection pressure. The data furthermore indicate an increase in SMD with surface tension. It was found that the penetration depth of ligaments can have major impact on the combustion process, and that the droplet size is not always the critical factor responsible for efficient combustion. The measured delay in primary breakup at increased viscosity shows that pressure-swirl atomization is unsuitable for the application of pure pyrolysis oil in an unmodified gas turbine engine
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-175
JournalApplied energy
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • METIS-310097
  • IR-95262

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