A method and apparatus for combustion of a fuel in which a first-stage fuel and a first-stage oxidant are introduced into a combustion chamber and ignited, forming a primary combustion zone. At least about 5% of the total heat output produced by combustion of the first-stage fuel and the first-stage oxidant is removed from the primary combustion zone, forming cooled first-stage combustion products. A portion of the cooled first-stage combustion products from a downstream region of the primary combustion zone is recirculated to an upstream region of primary combustion zone. A second-stage fuel is introduced into the combustion chamber downstream of the primary combustion zone and ignited, forming a secondary combustion zone. At least about 5% of the heat from the secondary combustion zone is removed. In accordance with one embodiment, a third-stage oxidant is introduced into the combustion chamber downstream of the secondary combustion zone, forming a tertiary combustion zone.
The U.S. Government has a paid-up license in this invention and the right in limited circumstances to require the patent owner to license others on reasonable terms as provided for by the terms of Contract No. DE-FC07-95ID13333 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy.