Due to the low level of profile losses already reached in the design of modern low-pressure turbines for turbofan applications, a renewed interest is devoted to the other sources of loss, and namely to the secondary losses. At the same time, the importance of secondary losses has been reinforced by the current design trend towards high-lift profiles. A great attention, therefore, is dedicated to reliable and effective prediction methods as well as on the correct understanding of the mechanisms that drive the secondary flows.
In this context, a systematic numerical and experimental campaign was carried out focusing on the impact of different inlet boundary layer (BL) profiles and considering a state-of-the-art low-pressure turbine cascade.
Starting from a computational environment representative of a design standard, detailed RANS analyses were carried out in order to establish dependable guidelines for the computational setup. As a major result, such analyses also underlined the importance of the shape of the inlet BL very close to the endwall, hence suggesting tight requirements for the characterization of the experimental environment.
The impact of the inlet BL profile on the secondary flow development was experimentally investigated by varying the profile shape very close to the endwall as well as on the external part with respect to a reference condition. The effects on the cascade performance were evaluated focusing on the intensity of the over-under-turning as well as on the associated losses (intensity and penetration) by measuring the span-wise distributions of flow angle and total pressure losses at the cascade exit plane. For all the inlet conditions, comparisons between CFD and experimental results are discussed.
Besides providing guidelines for a proper numerical and experimental setup, the present paper underlines the importance of a detailed characterization of the inlet BL for an accurate assessment of the secondary flows. From a broader perspective, when aiming at reproducing (numerically or experimentally) a real engine environment, this suggests that an in-depth matching of the inlet profiles is crucial for reliable estimates of the secondary losses.