The use of ceramics in gas turbines potentially allows for very high cycle efficiency and power density, by increasing operating temperatures. This is especially relevant for sub-megawatt gas turbines, where the integration of complex blade cooling greatly affects machine capital cost. However, ceramics are brittle and prone to fragile, catastrophic failure, making their current use limited to static and low-stress parts. Using the inside-out ceramic turbine (ICT) configuration solves this issue by converting the centrifugal blade loading to compressive stress, by using an external high-strength carbon-polymer composite rim. This paper presents a superalloy cooling system designed to protect the composite rim and allow it to withstand operating temperatures up to 1600 K. The cooling system was designed using one-dimensional (1D) models, developed to predict flow conditions as well as the temperatures of its critical components. These models were subsequently supported with computational fluid dynamics and used to conduct a power scalability study on a single stage ICT. Results suggest that the ICT configuration should achieve a turbine inlet temperature (TIT) of 1600 K with a composite rim cooling-to-main mass flow rate ratio under 5.2% for power levels above 350 kW. A proof of concept was performed by experimental validation of a small-scale 15 kW prototype, using a commercially available bismaleimide-carbon (BMI-carbon) composite rim and Inconel® 718 nickel-based alloy. The combination of numerical and experimental results show that the ICT can operate at a TIT of 1100 K without damage to the composite rim.

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