Representative simulation of gas turbine operation has to be performed by engine manufacturers during engine development programs for a number of reasons, including technical risk mitigation, safety analysis and cycle optimisation.

Minimisation of Specific Fuel Consumption (SFC) is the main challenge faced by the WR-21 engine, an intercooled and recuperated gas turbine which is at the forefront of future naval propulsion systems. Steady state simulation tools need to be developed to accurately predict engine performance under any set of environmental conditions. The methodology used involves an integrated “analysis-synthesis” simulation technique where extensive test data analysis is built into a full thermodynamic model of the engine.

Simulation of the gas turbine behaviour under transient conditions is also required to ensure maximum operability through optimised control, and gas turbine stability under any circumstances. For the WR-21 engine this simulation capability has been developed in both Real Time (RT) and Non-Real Time (NRT) modes. This process is particularly challenging for such an advanced cycle gas turbine where the number of components, and their thermodynamic interaction, is far greater than for a simple cycle prime mover.

This paper examines how these challenges have been successfully overcome by the WR-21 project. It describes the tools and techniques that have been developed in the project, and exemplifies their application through demonstration of significant technical achievements.

It also expands on the strategic issue of model flexibility and connectivity, and elaborates on future developments in simulation techniques, that will drive the naval gas turbine industry towards continual process improvement, ever closer to its customers.

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