Transverse combustion instabilities: Acoustic, fluid mechanic, and flame processes

Jacqueline O'Connor, Vishal Acharya, Timothy Lieuwen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

281 Scopus citations


Thermoacoustic oscillations associated with transverse acoustic modes are routinely encountered in combustion chambers. While a large literature on this topic exists for rockets, no systematic reviews of transverse oscillations are available for air-breathing systems, such as in boilers, aircraft engines, jet engine augmentors, or power generating gas turbines. This paper reviews work on the problem for air-breathing systems, summarizing experimental, modeling, and active control studies of transverse oscillations. It then details the key physical processes controlling these oscillations by describing transverse acoustic wave motions, the effect of transverse acoustic waves on hydrodynamic instabilities, and the influence of acoustic and hydrodynamic fluid motions on the unsteady heat release. This paper particularly emphasizes the distinctions between the direct and indirect effect of transverse wave motions, by arguing that the dominant effect of the transverse acoustics is to act as the "clock" that controls the frequency and modal structure of the disturbance field. However, in many instances, it is the indirect axial flow disturbances at the nozzles (driven by pressure oscillations from the transverse mode), and the vortices that they excite, that cause the dominant heat release rate oscillations. Throughout the review, we discuss issues associated with simulating or scaling instabilities, either in subscale experimental geometries or by attempting to understand instability physics using identical nozzle hardware during axial oscillations of the same frequency as the transverse mode of interest. This review closes with a model problem that integrates many of these controlling elements, as well as recommendations for future research needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-39
Number of pages39
JournalProgress in Energy and Combustion Science
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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