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Experimental Investigation of Separated and Transitional Boundary Layers Under Low-Pressure Turbine Airfoil ConditionsModern low-pressure turbine airfoils are subject to increasingly stronger pressure gradients as designers impose higher loading in an effort to improve efficiency and to reduce part count. The adverse pressure gradients on the suction side of these airfoils can lead to boundary-layer separation, particularly under cruise conditions. Separation bubbles, notably those which fail to reattach, can result in a significant degradation of engine efficiency. Accurate prediction of separation and reattachment is hence crucial to improved turbine design. This requires an improved understanding of the transition flow physics. Transition may begin before or after separation, depending on the Reynolds number and other flow conditions, has a strong influence on subsequent reattachment, and may even eliminate separation. Further complicating the problem are the high free-stream turbulence levels in a real engine environment, the strong pressure gradients along the airfoils, the curvature of the airfoils, and the unsteadiness associated with wake passing from upstream stages. Because of the complicated flow situation, transition in these devices can take many paths that can coexist, vary in importance, and possibly also interact, at different locations and instances in time. The present work was carried out in an attempt to systematically sort out some of these issues. Detailed velocity measurements were made along a flat plate subject to the same nominal dimensionless pressure gradient as the suction side of a modern low-pressure turbine airfoil ('Pak-B'). The Reynolds number based on wetted plate length and nominal exit velocity, Re, was varied from 50;000 to 300; 000, covering cruise to takeoff conditions. Low, 0.2%, and high, 7%, inlet free-stream turbulence intensities were set using passive grids. These turbulence levels correspond to about 0.2% and 2.5% turbulence intensity in the test section when normalized with the exit velocity. The Reynolds number and free-stream turbulence level do not have a significant effect on the location of boundary-layer separation unless they are high enough to induce transition upstream of separation. The location and extent of the transition zone, in contrast, depend strongly on Re and TI. The beginning of reattachment closely follows the onset of transition. Under low free-stream turbulence conditions the boundary layer is laminar at separation and then begins to exhibit fluctuations in a finite frequency band in the shear layer over the separation bubble. These fluctuations are due to instability waves. The fluctuations grow in magnitude, higher harmonics are generated, and finally lead to a breakdown to turbulence. Transition begins in the shear layer, but quickly spreads to the near wall region and causes the boundary layer to reattach. The transition is rapid and the resulting turbulence contains a full range of high and low frequencies. Under high free-stream turbulence conditions, slowly growing low-frequency fluctuations are induced in the pretransitional boundary layer by the free-stream. The separation bubbles are considerably thinner than in the low TI cases, resulting in thinner boundary layers at the end of the test wall. At Re=50,000 and 100,000, the pre-transitional boundary layer separates at about the same location as in the low TI cases. Transition occurs through a bypass mode, begins upstream of the corresponding low-TI location, and proceeds in a manner similar to that of an attached boundary layer. Under high TI at Re=200,000 and 300,000, transition begins before separation. The boundary layer may separate, but if it does the separation bubble is very short and does not significantly affect the downstream development of the boundary layer. A comparison is made to previous work in a simulated cascade.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Hultgren, Lennart S.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Volino, Ralph J.
(Naval Academy Annapolis, MD United States)
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
April 1, 2002
Publication Information
Publication: Minnowbrook III: 2000 Workshop on Boundary Layer Transition and Unsteady Aspects of Turbomachinery Flows
Subject Category
Fluid Mechanics And Thermodynamics
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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