This paper addresses the issue of aerodynamic performance of a novel 3D leading edge modification to a reference low pressure turbine blade. An analysis of tubercles found in nature and used in some engineering applications was employed to synthesize new leading edge geometry. A sinusoidal wave-like geometry characterized by wavelength and amplitude was used to modify the leading edge along the span of a 2D profile, rendering a 3D blade shape. The rationale behind using the sinusoidal leading edge was that they induce streamwise vortices at the leading edge which influence the separation behaviour downstream. Surface pressure and total pressure measurements were made in experiments on a cascade rig. These were complemented with computational fluid dynamics studies where flow visualization was also made from numerical results. The tests were carried out at low Reynolds number of 5.5 × 104 on a well-researched profile representative of conventional low pressure turbine profiles. The performance of the new 3D leading edge geometries was compared against the reference blade revealing a downstream shift in separated flow for the LE tubercle blades; however, total pressure loss reduction was not conclusively substantiated for the blade with leading edge tubercles when compared with the performance of the baseline blade. Factors contributing to the total pressure loss are discussed.

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