Experimental study of main gas ingestion and purge gas egress flow in model gas turbine stages
Efficient performance of gas turbines depends, among several parameters, on the mainstream gas entry temperature. At the same time, transport of this high temperature gas into the rotor-stator cavities of turbine stages affects the durability of rotor disks. This transport is usually countered by installing seals on the rotor and stator disk rims and by pressurizing the cavities by injecting air (purge gas) bled from the compressor discharge. The configuration of the rim seals influences the magnitude of main gas ingestion as well as the interaction of the purge gas with the main gas. The latter has aerodynamic and hub endwall heat transfer implications in the main gas path. In the present work, experiments were performed on model single-stage and 1.5-stage axial-flow turbines. The turbines featured vanes, blades, and rim seals on both the rotor and stator disks. Three different rim seal geometries, viz., axially overlapping radial clearance rim seals for the single-stage turbine cavity and the 1.5-stage turbine aft cavity, and a rim seal with angular clearance for the single-stage turbine cavity were studied. In the single-stage turbine, an inner seal radially inboard in the cavity was also provided; this effectively divided the disk cavity into a rim cavity and an inner cavity. For the aft rotor-stator cavity of the 1.5-stage turbine, a labyrinth seal was provided radially inboard, again creating a rim cavity and an inner cavity. Measurement results of time-average main gas ingestion into the cavities using tracer gas (CO2), and ensemble-averaged trajectories of the purge gas flowing out through the rim seal gap into the main gas path using particle image velocimetry are presented. For both turbines, significant ingestion occurred only in the rim cavity. The inner cavity was almost completely sealed by the inner seal, at all purge gas flow rates for the single-stage turbine and at the higher purge gas flow rates for 1.5-stage turbine. Purge gas egress trajectory was found to depend on main gas and purge gas flow rates, the rim seal configuration, and the azimuthal location of the trajectory mapping plane with respect to the vanes.