Different labyrinth seal configurations are used in modern heavy-duty gas turbine such as see-through stepped or honeycomb seals. The characterization of leakage flow through the seals is one of the main tasks for secondary air system designers as well as the evaluation of increase in temperature due to heat transfer and windage effects. In high temperature turbomachinery applications, knowledge of the heat transfer characteristics of flow leaking through the seals is needed in order to accurately predict seal dimensions and performance as affected by thermal expansion. This paper deals with the influence of clearance on the leakage flow and heat transfer coefficient of a contactless labyrinth seal. A scaled-up planar model of the seal mounted in the inner shrouded vane of the Ansaldo AE94.3A gas turbine has been experimentally investigated. Five clearances were tested using a stationary test rig. The experiments covered a range of Reynolds numbers between 5000 and 40000 and pressure ratios between 1 and 3.3. Local heat transfer coefficients were calculated using a transient technique. It is shown that the clearance/pitch ratio has a significant effect upon both leakage loss and heat transfer coefficient. Hodkinson’s and Vermes’ models are used to fit experimental mass flow rate and pressure drop data. This approach shows a good agreement with experimental data.

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