Experimental and Computational Investigation of Flow Instabilities in Turbine Rim Seals

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Abstract

In high-pressure turbines, cool air is purged through rim seals at the periphery of wheel-spaces between the stator and rotor discs. The purge suppresses the ingress of hot gas from the annulus but superfluous use is inefficient. In this paper the interaction between the ingress, purge and mainstream flow is studied through comparisons of newly acquired experimental results alongside unsteady numerical simulations based on the DLR TRACE solver. New experimental measurements were taken from a one-and-a-half stage axial-turbine rig operating with engine-representative blade and vane geometries, and overlapping rim seals. Radial traverses using a miniature CO2 concentration probe quantified the penetration of ingress into the rim seal and the outer portion of the wheel-space. Unsteady pressure measurements from circumferentially-positioned transducers on the stator disc identified distinct frequencies in the wheel-space, and the computations reveal these are associated with large-scale flow structures near the outer periphery rotating at just less than the disc speed. It is hypothesised that the physical origin of such phenomenon is driven by Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities caused by the tangential shear between the annulus and egress flows, as also postulated by previous authors. The presence and intensity of these rotating structures are strongly dependent on the purge flow rate. While there is general qualitative agreement between experiment and computation, it is speculated that the under-prediction by the computations of the measured levels of ingress is caused by deficiencies in the turbulence modelling.
LanguageEnglish
Article number011028
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power: Transactions of the ASME
Volume141
Issue number1
DOIs
StatusPublished - Jan 2019

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Seals
Wheels
Turbines
Stators
Compressed air motors
Flow structure
Pressure measurement
Turbomachine blades
Transducers
Turbulence
Rotors
Flow rate
Engines
Geometry
Computer simulation
Gases
Experiments

Cite this

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title = "Experimental and Computational Investigation of Flow Instabilities in Turbine Rim Seals",
abstract = "In high-pressure turbines, cool air is purged through rim seals at the periphery of wheel-spaces between the stator and rotor discs. The purge suppresses the ingress of hot gas from the annulus but superfluous use is inefficient. In this paper the interaction between the ingress, purge and mainstream flow is studied through comparisons of newly acquired experimental results alongside unsteady numerical simulations based on the DLR TRACE solver. New experimental measurements were taken from a one-and-a-half stage axial-turbine rig operating with engine-representative blade and vane geometries, and overlapping rim seals. Radial traverses using a miniature CO2 concentration probe quantified the penetration of ingress into the rim seal and the outer portion of the wheel-space. Unsteady pressure measurements from circumferentially-positioned transducers on the stator disc identified distinct frequencies in the wheel-space, and the computations reveal these are associated with large-scale flow structures near the outer periphery rotating at just less than the disc speed. It is hypothesised that the physical origin of such phenomenon is driven by Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities caused by the tangential shear between the annulus and egress flows, as also postulated by previous authors. The presence and intensity of these rotating structures are strongly dependent on the purge flow rate. While there is general qualitative agreement between experiment and computation, it is speculated that the under-prediction by the computations of the measured levels of ingress is caused by deficiencies in the turbulence modelling.",
author = "Josh Horwood and {Hualca Tigsilema}, {Fabian Patricio} and James Scobie and Mike Wilson and Carl Sangan and Gary Lock",
year = "2019",
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AU - Hualca Tigsilema, Fabian Patricio

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AU - Wilson, Mike

AU - Sangan, Carl

AU - Lock, Gary

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N2 - In high-pressure turbines, cool air is purged through rim seals at the periphery of wheel-spaces between the stator and rotor discs. The purge suppresses the ingress of hot gas from the annulus but superfluous use is inefficient. In this paper the interaction between the ingress, purge and mainstream flow is studied through comparisons of newly acquired experimental results alongside unsteady numerical simulations based on the DLR TRACE solver. New experimental measurements were taken from a one-and-a-half stage axial-turbine rig operating with engine-representative blade and vane geometries, and overlapping rim seals. Radial traverses using a miniature CO2 concentration probe quantified the penetration of ingress into the rim seal and the outer portion of the wheel-space. Unsteady pressure measurements from circumferentially-positioned transducers on the stator disc identified distinct frequencies in the wheel-space, and the computations reveal these are associated with large-scale flow structures near the outer periphery rotating at just less than the disc speed. It is hypothesised that the physical origin of such phenomenon is driven by Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities caused by the tangential shear between the annulus and egress flows, as also postulated by previous authors. The presence and intensity of these rotating structures are strongly dependent on the purge flow rate. While there is general qualitative agreement between experiment and computation, it is speculated that the under-prediction by the computations of the measured levels of ingress is caused by deficiencies in the turbulence modelling.

AB - In high-pressure turbines, cool air is purged through rim seals at the periphery of wheel-spaces between the stator and rotor discs. The purge suppresses the ingress of hot gas from the annulus but superfluous use is inefficient. In this paper the interaction between the ingress, purge and mainstream flow is studied through comparisons of newly acquired experimental results alongside unsteady numerical simulations based on the DLR TRACE solver. New experimental measurements were taken from a one-and-a-half stage axial-turbine rig operating with engine-representative blade and vane geometries, and overlapping rim seals. Radial traverses using a miniature CO2 concentration probe quantified the penetration of ingress into the rim seal and the outer portion of the wheel-space. Unsteady pressure measurements from circumferentially-positioned transducers on the stator disc identified distinct frequencies in the wheel-space, and the computations reveal these are associated with large-scale flow structures near the outer periphery rotating at just less than the disc speed. It is hypothesised that the physical origin of such phenomenon is driven by Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities caused by the tangential shear between the annulus and egress flows, as also postulated by previous authors. The presence and intensity of these rotating structures are strongly dependent on the purge flow rate. While there is general qualitative agreement between experiment and computation, it is speculated that the under-prediction by the computations of the measured levels of ingress is caused by deficiencies in the turbulence modelling.

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