A wave-rotor pressure-gain combustor (WRPGC) ideally provides constant-volume combustion and enables a gas turbine engine to operate on the Humphrey-Atkinson cycle. It exploits pressure (both compression and expansion) waves and confined propagating combustion to achieve pressure rise inside the combustor. This study first presents thermodynamic cycle analysis to illustrate the improvements of a gas turbine engine possible with a wave rotor combustor. Thereafter, non-steady reacting simulations are used to examine features and characteristics of a combustor rig that reproduces key features of a WRPGC.
In the thermodynamic analysis, performance parameters such as thermal efficiency and specific power are estimated for different operating conditions (compressor pressure ratio and turbine inlet temperature). The performance of the WRPGC is compared with the conventional unrecuperated and recuperated engines that operates on the Brayton cycle. Fuel consumption may be reduced substantially with WRPGC introduction, while concomitantly boosting power. Simulations have been performed of the ignition of propane by a hot gas jet and subsequent turbulent flame propagation and shock-flame interaction.