In order to improve the startup flexibility of steam turbines it becomes relevant to analyze their dynamic thermal behavior. In this work, the relative expansion between rotor and casing was studied during cold start conditions. This is an important property to monitor during start-up given that clearances between rotating and stationary components must be controlled in order to avoid rubbing. The investigation was performed using a turbine thermal simplified model from previous work by the authors. The first step during the investigation was to extend and refine the modeling tool in order to include thermo mechanical properties. Then, the range of applicability of the model was validated by a two-fold comparison with a higher order finite element numerical model and measured data of a cold start from an installed turbine.
Finally, sensitivity studies were conducted with the aim of identifying the modeling assumptions that have the largest influence in capturing the correct thermal behavior of the turbine. It was found that the assumptions for the bearing oil and inter-casing cavity temperatures have a large influence ranging between ± 25% from the measured values. In addition, the sensitivity studies also involved increasing the initial temperature of the casing in order to reduce the peak of differential expansion. Improvements of up to 30% were accounted to this measure. The studies performed serve as a base towards further understanding the differential expansion during start and establishing future clearance control strategies during turbine transient operation.