The residual life assessment of a turbine spacer from a gas turbine engine is presented. The spacer has been identified as one of the safety critical components of the engine, therefore the useful life of this component significantly affects economic operation of the fleet.
Numerical analyses of fatigue crack propagation at one critical location of the spacer were performed using both three dimensional (3D) finite element based method and the weight function method. These results combined with the material data allowed for basic assessment of the damage tolerance of this component. Experimental validation of the spacer life was performed in a spin rig facility. During this validation, two sets of spacers were tested and the number of cycles to appearance of a detectable crack was recorded. Moreover, a fractographic study was conducted on the fracture surfaces of two spin rig tested spacers using scanning electronic microscopy techniques. It was found that crack nucleation occurred at multiple sites and crack propagation occurred by a mixed mode of striation formation and faceted fracture. Therefore it was concluded that the mixed mode interaction should be considered in predicting the fatigue life of the spacer.
Finally, the paper describes the challenges and pitfalls encountered during preparation and execution of the analyses and tests, including availability of engine and operational data and also uncertainties in interpretation of the results.