An experimental study of a single, swirl cup burner is carried out to improve understanding of the lean reacting flow field near idle conditions for an annular spray combustor. The counter-swirler is mounted horizontally in a trapezoidal cross-section combustor with quartz plate walls. Liquid fuel, Jet-A, is initially atomized using a simplex nozzle, and then a designed re-atomization occurs from the swirler hardware. Measurements of non-reacting and reacting gas phase velocities enable the direct comparison of critical flow features at various power settings. Droplet diameter and exhaust composition measurements confirm that the initial droplet size is a key factor in emission levels. Smaller droplets in the spray periphery tend to evaporate and burn premixed, while larger droplets in the spray core convect downstream and burn with a sheath-type, non-premixed flame. The presence of small fuel droplets in the spray may ensure more complete combustion and improve combustor stability at lean, low power settings.

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