This work reports an experimental study of the behaviour and structure of a liquid spray immersed in a strong swirling field. In order to simulate some of the aerodynamic conditions experienced by a spray in a model combustor, an experimental setup using an acrylic chamber, a vane type swirler, and separate air supplies for both the secondary air and the swirl air were integrated to perform the experiments in the wind tunnel. A vane type swirler exhibiting a high swirl number was used to produce a strong recirculation flow field downstream of a pressure swirl atomizer. Properties of the dispersed phase such as velocity, size distributions, and size-velocity correlations were measured at several locations within the swirling flow field. In addition, mean velocity and turbulence properties were obtained for the gas phase. Flow visualization was performed with a laser sheet to gain further understanding of the formation and influence of the recirculation region on the spray. A 2-component PDPA system with a frequency based Doppler Signal Analyzer was used throughout the measurements, and proved most valuable in the toroidal vortex region where low SNR conditions and non-uniform concentration of seed particles prevail. The results show that flow reversal of the drops is present at this swirl intensity within the recirculation region at distances up to X/D = 2.0. Small variations of drop size distribution within the recirculation region are observed, however large variations outside of it are also present.
Plots of the normal Reynolds stresses and Reynolds shear stresses show double-peak radial distributions which indicate regions in the flow where high mean velocity gradients and large shear forces are present. The decay of turbulence velocities in the axial direction was observed to be very fast, an indication of high diffusion and dissipation rates of the kinetic energy of turbulence.