In modern gas turbine engines, the blade tips and near-tip regions are exposed to high thermal loads caused by the tip leakage flow. The rotor blades are therefore carefully designed to achieve optimum work extraction at engine design conditions without failure. However, very often gas turbine engines operate outside these design conditions which might result in sudden rotor blade failure. Therefore, it is critical that the effect of such off-design turbine blade operation be understood to minimize the risk of failure and optimize rotor blade tip performance. In this study, the effect of varying the exit Mach number on the tip and near-tip heat transfer characteristics was numerically studied by solving the steady Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes (RANS) equation. The study was carried out on a highly loaded flat tip rotor blade with 1% tip gap and at exit Mach numbers of Mexit = 0.85 (Reexit = 9.75 × 105) and Mexit = 1.0 (Reexit = 1.15 × 106) with high freestream turbulence (Tu = 12%). The exit Reynolds number was based on the rotor axial chord. The numerical results provided detailed insight into the flow structure and heat transfer distribution on the tip and near-tip surfaces. On the tip surface, the heat transfer was found to generally increase with exit Mach number due to high turbulence generation in the tip gap and flow reattachment. While increase in exit Mach number generally raises he heat transfer over the whole blade surface, the increase is significantly higher on the near-tip surfaces affected by leakage vortex. Increase in exit Mach number was found to also induce strong flow relaminarisation on the pressure side near-tip. On the other hand, the size of the suction surface near-tip region affected by leakage vortex was insensitive to changes in exit Mach number but significant increase in local heat transfer was noted in this region.

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