Machine learning and automatized routines for parameter optimization have experienced a surge in development in the past years, mostly caused by the increasing availability of computing capacity. Gradient-free optimization can avoid cumbersome theoretical studies as input parameters are purely adapted based on output data. As no knowledge about the objective function is provided to the algorithms, this approach might reveal unconventional solutions to complex problems that were out of scope of classical solution strategies. In this study, the potential of these optimization methods on thermoacoustic problems is examined. The optimization algorithms are applied to a generic low-order thermoacoustic can-combustor model with several fuel injectors at different locations. We use three optimization algorithms — the well established Downhill Simplex Method, the recently proposed Explorative Gradient Method, and an evolutionary algorithm — to find optimal fuel distributions across the fuel lines while maintaining the amount of consumed fuel constant. The objective is to have minimal pulsation amplitudes. We compare the results and efficiency of the gradient-free algorithms. Additionally, we employ model-based linear stability analysis to calculate the growth rates of the dominant thermoacoustic modes. This allows us to highlight general and thermoacoustic-specific features of the optimization methods and results. The findings of this study show the potential of gradient-free optimization methods on combustor design for tackling thermoacoustic problems, and motivate further research in this direction.

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