The present paper outlines a practical methodology for improved virtual prototyping, using as an example, the recently re-engineered, internally-cooled 1st stage blade of a 40 MW industrial gas turbine. Using the full 3-D CAD model of the blade, a CFD simulation that includes the hot gas flow around the blade, conjugate heat transfer from the fluid to the solid at the blade surface, heat conduction through the solid, and the coolant flow in the plenum is performed. The pressure losses through and heat transfer to the cooling channels inside the airfoil are captured with a 1-D code and the 1-D results are linked to the three-dimensional CFD analysis. The resultant three-dimensional temperature distribution through the blade provides the required thermal loading for the subsequent structural finite element analysis. The results of this analysis include the thermo-mechanical stress distribution, which is the basis for blade life assessment.

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