Reducing the number of blades in low pressure turbines is a desirable option for decreasing total operation costs. From an aerodynamical point of view this directly leads to an increased blade load. However, increasing the blade load above a certain level results in viscous effects like separation bubbles and finally full separation. This becomes especially significant for aero engine turbines, which operate at high altitudes and thus low Reynolds numbers. The underlying local flow phenomena and the effect on the aerodynamic performance of such configurations are addressed in this paper.
This investigation is based on a three-stage low pressure turbine typical for aero engines. Different setups are employed with different number of guide vanes in certain stages. Furthermore, the Reynolds number is varied within a wide range. These configurations are investigated numerically using a modern steady-state transitional Navier-Stokes solver and experimental results from the same turbine. Based on this information, a detailed analysis of the viscous flow phenomena is performed with focus on the influence of separation bubbles on the loss production after the transition. These results are discussed with respect to blade count reduction.