Gas turbine combustors are commonly employed as power sources in a wide range of applications, including aircraft, tanks, and ground-based power generation. Reducing the emissions and improving the efficiency of gas turbine combustors would therefore have an important impact on environmental health and energy efficiency. Owing to the high maturity level of current gas turbine combustors, such goals can be achieved only with a step change in technology. Two promising approaches to combustion for reducing the emissions and improving the energy efficiency of gas turbine combustors are “lean combustion” and “constant volume combustion,” respectively. The goal of lean combustion is to reduce peak temperatures inside the combustor, resulting in reduced NOx emissions. For constant volume combustion, the goal is to alter the traditional gas turbine combustor technology, which operates using a constant pressure combustion thermodynamic cycle. The constant volume combustion thermodynamic cycle is superior to that for constant pressure, mainly through a reduction in wasted energy (entropy reduction); this benefit can be used to reduce the specific fuel consumption of gas turbine technology. Although constant volume and lean combustion have significant advantages, the physical processes occurring in combustor concepts leveraging these approaches is complex and not yet well understood.
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