Flameless combustion is a novel combustion technology able to ensure high combustion efficacies with low pollutant emissions thanks to the dilution of reactants, usually achieved through recirculation of combustion products. The technology has been successfully applied in several processes and has been found to be able to handle a large variety of fuels, including low grade fuels, industrial by-products and hydrogen. Further development of this innovative combustion technology would benefit of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tools; however, modelling flameless combustion is much more challenging than conventional flames, because of the strong coupling between turbulent mixing and chemical kinetics. In particular the chemical kinetics plays a fundamental role, even though there no common opinion on the degree a mechanism can be reduced. Some useful works may be found on flameless burners fed with methane, but there is lack of information on different fuels.
The present work describes the numerical modelling of an ethylene jet flame issuing in a hot coflow burner, emulating flameless combustion and fully characterised in literature, with the scope of investigating the potential for chemistry reduction in the context of flameless combustion. A Principle Component/Variable Analysis is used to investigate the most important species in the chemical mechanism and subsequently a dimension reduction technique based on the Rate-controlled constrained-equilibrium (RCEE) principle is applied to the detailed mechanism to be coupled to the CFD code, in order to make simulations more affordable. Results indicated that the use of Principle Component/Variable Analysis leads to a good choice of the variables to be retained as results with the reduced scheme were found to be consistent with those obtained with the full mechanism.