Internal cooling passages of turbine blades have long been at risk to blockage through the deposition of sand and dust during fleet service life. The ingestion of high volumes of volcanic ash therefore poses a real risk to engine operability. An additional difficulty is that the cooling system is frequently impossible to inspect in order to assess the level of deposition. This paper reports results from experiments carried out at typical HP turbine blade metal temperatures (1163K to 1293K) and coolant inlet temperatures (800K to 900K) in engine scale models of a turbine cooling passage with film-cooling offtakes. Volcanic ash samples from the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption were used for the majority of the experiments conducted. A further ash sample from the Chaiten eruption allowed the effect of changing ash chemical composition to be investigated. The experimental rig allows the metered delivery of volcanic ash through the coolant system at the start of a test. The key metric indicating blockage is the flow parameter which can be determined over a range of pressure ratios (1.01–1.06) before and after each experiment, with visual inspection used to determine the deposition location. Results from the experiments have determined the threshold metal temperature at which blockage occurs for the ash samples available, and characterise the reduction of flow parameter with changing particle size distribution, blade metal temperature, ash sample composition, film-cooling hole configuration and pressure ratio across the holes. There is qualitative evidence that hole geometry can be manipulated to decrease the likelihood of blockage. A discrete phase CFD model implemented in Fluent has allowed the trajectory of the ash particles within the coolant passages to be modelled, and these results are used to help explain the behaviour observed.

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