The transition in dynamics from low-amplitude, aperiodic, combustion noise to high-amplitude, periodic, combustion instability in confined, combustion environments was studied experimentally in a laboratory-scale combustor with two different flameholding devices in a turbulent flow field. We show that the low-amplitude, irregular pressure fluctuations acquired during stable regimes, termed ‘combustion noise’, display scale invariance and have a multifractal signature that disappears at the onset of combustion instability. Traditional analysis often treats combustion noise and combustion instability as acoustic problems wherein the irregular fluctuations observed in experiments are often considered as a stochastic background to the dynamics. We demonstrate that the irregular fluctuations contain useful information of prognostic value by defining representative measures such as Hurst exponents that can act as early warning signals to impending instability in fielded combustors.
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