Since many years the diffuser and exhaust of low pressure (LP) turbines have been in the focus of turbine development and accordingly broadly discussed within the scientific community. The pressure recovery gained within the diffuser significantly contributes to the turbine performance and therefore plenty of care is taken in investigations of the flow as well as optimization within this part of the turbine. However on a plant level the component following the LP turbine is the condenser, which is connected by the condenser neck. Typically the condenser neck is not fully designed to provide additional enthalpy recovery. Due to plant arrangement reasons, often it is full of built-ins like stiffening struts, feed-water heaters, extraction pipes, steam dump devices and others. It is vital to minimize the pressure losses across the condenser neck, in order to keep performance benefit, previously gained within the diffuser. As a general rule, each mbar of total pressure loss in a condenser neck may reduce the gross power output up to 0.1%.
While turbines usually follow a modular approach, the condenser is typically designed plant specific. Therefore, on a plant level it is crucial to identify and evaluate the loss contributors and develop processes and tools which allow an accurate and efficient design process for an optimized condenser neck design. This needs to be performed as a coupled modelling approach, as both, turbine and condenser flow interact with each other. 3-D CFD tools enable a deep insight into the flow field and help to locally optimize the design, as they help to identify local losses and this even for small geometrical design changes. Unfortunately these tools are costly with respect to computational time and resources, if they are used to analyze a full condenser neck with all built-ins. Here 1-D modelling approaches can help to close the gap, as they can provide fast feedback, e.g. in a project tender phase, or can allow to quickly analyze design changes. For this they need a proper calibration and validation. This publication discusses the CFD modelling of a LP steam turbine coupled to a condenser neck and the validity of such calculations against measurement data. In the second publication (Part 2) a simplification of the gained information to a 1-D modelling approach will be discussed.