Gas turbine engine efficiency and reliability is generally improved through better understanding and improvements to the design of individual components. The life limiting component of the modern gas turbine is the high pressure (HP) turbine stage due to the arduous environment. Over the last 50 years significant research effort has been focused on advancing blade cooling designs and materials.
Due to practical limitations little fundamental research on the turbine system is performed in the operating gas turbine engine. Consequently different types of experimental approaches have been developed over the last 4 decades to study the flow and in particular the heat transfer and cooling in turbines.
In general the facilities can be divided into continuous running or short duration and cascade or rotating. Over the last 30 years short duration facilities have dominated the research in the study of turbine heat transfer and cooling.
The Oxford Turbine Research Facility (formerly known as the QinetiQ Turbine Test Facility, The Isentropic Light Piston Facility and The Isentropic Light Piston Cascade) is a short duration facility developed and built in the late 1970s and early 1980s for turbine heat transfer and cooling studies.
This paper presents the developments and measurements taken on the facility over the last 35 years, including the type of research that has been conducted and, the current capability of the facility.