The topic of hub cavity purge is investigated in a high-pressure axial low-reaction turbine stage. Both the sealing ability of the purge flow and the performance impact associated with its injection into the main flow are studied. Three operating speeds are investigated, namely a high loading case, the peak efficiency, and a high speed case, and purge flow rates across a wide range. The operating points coincide with investigations previously reported, where the flow field and stage efficiency was quantified using pneumatic probes. Comparative measurements are also performed, varying a leakage flow through the rotor below the hub platform.
The purge flow is now seeded with CO2 in order to measure its distribution throughout the stage, as it is injected into the wheelspace upstream of the rotor, allowing for quantification of the sealing effectiveness. This is done at a number of defined locations along the stator-side wall in the wheel space, resolving the radial variation through the cavity. Important radial variations of effectiveness are observed, confirming that the flow is in the regime of merged boundary layers, due to the narrow cavity, as compared to typical gas turbine operation with separated boundary layers. The trends are found to be related to operating speed and platform leakage.
With known sealing effectiveness, industry correlations may be adapted to make use of the variation of necessary purge rate to obtain a certain degree of sealing at a given operating point, and thereby optimize the efficiency.
In addition to quantification of potential hot-gas ingestion, the paper initiates an investigation of the transport of the purge flow in the main annulus, through sampling on the hub, as well as area traverse downstream of the rotor. The amount of sealing gas leads to opportunity to quantify the cooling performance of the purge flow in the main annulus. Both the cooling performance in the main annulus and cavity are shown to be significantly influenced by the rotor leakage, while its effect on efficiency is minor.