In gas turbines, thermoacoustic oscillations grow if moments of high fluctuating heat release rate coincide with moments of high acoustic pressure. The phase between the heat release rate and the acoustic pressure depends strongly on the flame behaviour (specifically the time delay) and on the acoustic period. This makes the growth rate of thermoacoustic oscillations exceedingly sensitive to small changes in the acoustic boundary conditions, geometry changes, and the flame time delay. In this paper, adjoint-based sensitivity analysis is applied to a thermoacoustic network model of an annular combustor. This reveals how each eigenvalue is affected by every parameter of the system. This information is combined with an optimization algorithm in order to stabilize all thermoacoustic modes of the combustor by making only small changes to the geometry. The final configuration has a larger plenum area, a smaller premix duct area and a larger combustion chamber volume. All changes are less than 6% of the original values. The technique is readily scalable to more complex models and geometries and the inclusion of further constraints, such that the combustion chamber itself should not change. This demonstrates why adjoint-based sensitivity analysis and optimization could become an indispensible tool for the design of thermoacoustically-stable combustors.

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