Efficiency and performance of gas turbine engines are affected by the flow field around the blades. The flow field inside a gas turbine engine is very complex. One of the characteristics of the flow inside an engine is existence of periodic unsteady wakes, originating from the upstream stator blades. The unsteady wakes, with their highly vortical core, impinge on the downstream blade surfaces and cause an intermittent transition of the flow regime from laminar to turbulent. This study aims at investigating and modeling the behavior and development of the boundary layer along the suction surface of a highly loaded low-pressure turbine blade under steady and unsteady inlet flow condition. The current paper includes results of a computational work substantiated by the experimental verifications. For the experimental investigations, the linear cascade facility in Turbomachinery Performance and Flow research Lab (TPFL) at Texas A&M University was used to simulate the periodic unsteady flow condition inside gas turbine engine. Moving wakes, originating from upstream blades, were simulated in this facility by moving rods attached to two parallel timing belts. Measurements and calculations were conducted at Reynolds number of 110,000. This Reynolds number pertains to cruise condition of a low-pressure turbine. At this Reynolds number, the flow around the blades is transitional and highly susceptible to flow separation. Aerodynamics experiments include measuring the boundary layer, locating its transition, separation and finally re-attachment using miniature hot wire probes. Heat transfer measurements along the suction and pressure surfaces were conducted utilizing a specially designed heat transfer blade that was instrumented with liquid crystal coating. To numerically simulate the transitional behavior of the boundary layer under periodic unsteady flow condition, a new intermittency function is developed which is based on the universal intermittency function developed by Chakka and Schobeiri [1]. Accurate prediction of the boundary layer behavior under the above conditions requires minimum and the maximum intermittency functions. These functions were developed inductively using the experimental results that were obtained in the absence of flow separation. In the current investigation the impact of the separation on the minimum and maximum intermittency are accounted for. The enhanced minimum and maximum intermittency functions along with the universal intermittency are implemented in a RANS based solver for computational simulation. The computational results are compared with (a) experimental ones and (b) with the computational results from RANS that involves Langtry-Menter [2, 3] method.

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