Gas turbines offer a high operational flexibility and a good turn down ratio to meet future requirements of power production. In this context stable operation over a wide range and for different blends of fuel is requested. Thermoacoustic stability assessment is crucial for accelerating the development and implementation of new combustion systems.

The results of nonlinear and linear thermoacoustic stability assessments are compared on basis of recent measurements of flame describing functions and thermoacoustic stability of a model swirl combustor operating in the fully turbulent regime. The different assessment methods are outlined. The linear thermoacoustic stability assessment yields growth rates of the thermoacoustic instability whereas the limit cycle amplitude is predicted by the nonlinear stability method.

It could be shown that the predicted limit cycle amplitudes correlate well with the growth rates of excitation obtained from linear modeling. Hence for screening the thermoacoustic stability of different design approaches a linear assessment may be sufficient while for detailed prediction of the dynamic pressure amplitude more efforts have to be spent on the nonlinear assessment including the analysis of the nonlinear flame response.

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