A time-varying voltage is applied to an electrode, or a pair of electrodes, of a sensor installed in a fuel nozzle disposed adjacent the combustion zone of a continuous combustion system, such as of the gas turbine engine type. The time-varying voltage induces a time-varying current in the flame which is measured and used to determine flame capacitance using AC electrical circuit analysis. Flame capacitance is used to accurately determine the position of the flame from the sensor and the fuel/air ratio. The fuel and/or air flow rate (s) is/are then adjusted to provide reduced flame instability problems such as flashback, combustion dynamics and lean blowout, as well as reduced emissions. The time-varying voltage may be an alternating voltage and the time-varying current may be an alternating current.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to the employer-employee relationship of the U.S. Department of Energy and the inventors.