Compressor fouling is a severe problem for both heavy-duty and aero-propulsion gas turbines. Particles can impinge on the blade and annulus surfaces, sticking there. The consequences of particle deposition are the increase of the roughness and an uncontrolled variation in the surface shape. These problems have a major effect on the performance of the compressor over time.

Variations in the flow field can make the flow quantities close to the deposit to change, and it may happen that the conditions for the sticking do not hold any longer. If this is the case, the build-up detachment may happen. This occurrence can mitigate the fouling effects and may be exploited for keeping the performance of the compressor as high as possible over the operating period. In this work, an innovative model is proposed in order to evaluate the adhesion forces and the possible detachment. Particularly, the same forces that keep a gecko stuck to a surface are considered: the van der Waals forces (due to the proximity of the two bodies) and the Laplace force (due to the curvature of the liquid film related to the humidity). The so formulated model, named gecko-like for such a reason, is used for the numerical analyses of a deposition problem. Both the sticking and possible build-up detachment are considered. The outcome of this work can be regarded as an a-priori estimate of the forces to be kept into account when dealing with compressor fouling problems.

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