Exploring the Different Types of Combustors for Power Generation

Types of Combustors

Combustors are crucial components of various combustion systems, including engines, power plants, and industrial furnaces. They facilitate the efficient combustion of fuel by mixing it with air and providing optimal conditions for ignition and sustained combustion. Different types of combustors are designed to meet specific requirements and applications. Here are some common types of combustors:

1. Can Combustor

A can combustor, also known as a can-type combustor, is a compact combustion chamber typically used in gas turbine engines. It consists of multiple individual combustion cans arranged in a circular or annular pattern. Each can contains its own fuel injector, combustion liner, and igniter. Can combustors provide excellent flame stability, combustion efficiency, and uniform heat distribution.

2. Annular Combustor

An annular combustor is a type of combustor used in gas turbine engines, particularly those with a high bypass ratio. It features a continuous, ring-shaped combustion chamber surrounding the turbine section. Annular combustors provide efficient fuel-air mixing, reduced emissions, and compact design. They are commonly found in modern jet engines.

3. Reverse Flow Combustor

A reverse flow combustor is designed to achieve low emissions and efficient combustion. In this type of combustor, the fuel-air mixture enters the combustion chamber from the downstream end and flows in the opposite direction of the air and combustion products. Reverse flow combustors promote longer residence times, allowing for more complete combustion and reduced emissions.

4. Can-Annular Combustor

A can-annular combustor combines features of both can combustors and annular combustors. It consists of an annular combustion chamber with multiple individual combustion cans located within it. Can-annular combustors offer a balance between compactness, efficiency, and stability, making them suitable for various gas turbine applications.

5. Liquid Fuel Spray Combustor

Liquid fuel spray combustors are commonly used in industrial applications, such as boilers and furnaces. They utilize atomized liquid fuel, typically oil, which is sprayed into the combustion chamber along with air. The fuel-air mixture then ignites, producing heat for various industrial processes. Liquid fuel spray combustors offer efficient combustion and are adaptable to different fuel types.

6. Multi-Nozzle Combustor

Multi-nozzle combustors are employed in applications that require a high heat release rate and combustion efficiency. They feature multiple fuel injection nozzles distributed around the combustion chamber. Multi-nozzle combustors allow for better control over the fuel-air mixing and combustion process, ensuring optimized performance and reduced emissions.

7. Swirl Combustor

Swirl combustors utilize swirling airflows to enhance the mixing of fuel and air, promoting efficient combustion. They typically feature a central fuel injector and a swirl generator that imparts a swirling motion to the incoming air. Swirl combustors provide improved flame stability, shorter flame lengths, and reduced emissions. They are commonly used in gas turbines, burners, and combustors for heating applications.

8. Low NOx Combustor

Low NOx combustors are designed to minimize the formation of nitrogen oxides (NOx) during combustion, as NOx emissions contribute to air pollution and environmental concerns. These combustors employ various techniques, such as lean premixed combustion, staged combustion, and advanced fuel-air mixing, to achieve low NOx emissions while maintaining combustion efficiency.


The choice of combustor depends on the specific application, fuel type, combustion efficiency requirements, emissions regulations, and other factors. Whether it’s can combustors, annular combustors, reverse flow combustors, liquid fuel spray combustors, multi-nozzle combustors, swirl combustors, can-annular combustors, or low NOx combustors, each type offers unique features and benefits for efficient and controlled combustion processes. Continuous advancements in combustor technology aim to improve combustion efficiency, reduce emissions, and enhance overall system performance.