Several high vibration amplitude problems have been reported regarding the slender last stage blades of commercial LP steam turbines. This paper presents a numerical study of unsteady forces acting on rotor blades using ANSYS CFX. A 3D transonic viscous flow through the stator and rotor blades with an exhaust hood was modelled. The last stage was modelled as a full blade annulus, so that the axial, radial and circumferential distribution of flow patterns and blade forces could be examined. An unsteady flow analysis was conducted on a typically designed last stage and exhaust diffuser, with measured and calculated downstream static pressure distribution as the outlet boundary condition. The results showed that under off-design conditions, vortices occurred in the last stage and diffuser.

Unsteady aerodynamic forces were found at high frequencies (stator passing frequencies) and low frequencies (generated from asymmetric pressure distributions behind the rotor), with the relative dominance of these forces/frequencies shifting as a function of radial span. An FFT analysis was carried out. Three sections were investigated: the hub, midspan and peripheral (tip) section. The steady pressure behind the rotor blade was compared with experimental results in the LP last stage behind the rotor blades and in a specified cross-section of the exhaust hood. The lower frequency unsteady forces had a higher relative contribution towards the tip of the blade.

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