Fouling affects gas turbine operation and airborne or fuel contaminants, under certain conditions, become very likely to adhere to surfaces if impact takes place. Particle sticking implies the change in shape in terms of roughness of the impinged surface. The consequences of these deposits could be dramatic: these effects can shut an aircraft engine down or derate a land-based power unit. This occurrence may happen due to the reduction of the compressor flow rate and the turbine capacity, caused by a variation in the HPT nozzle throat area (geometric blockage due to the thickness of the deposited layer and the aerodynamic blockage due to the increased roughness, and in turn boundary layer).

Several methods to quantify particle sticking have been proposed in literature so far, and the experimental data used for their validation vary in a wide range of materials and conditions. The experimental analyses have been supported by (and have given inspiration to) increasingly realistic mathematical models. Experimental tests have been carried out on (i) a full scale gas turbine unit, (ii) wind tunnel testing or hot gas facilities using stationary cascades, able to reproduce the same conditions of gas turbine nozzle operation and finally, (iii) wind tunnel testing or hot gas facilities using a coupon as the target.

In this review, the whole variety of experimental tests performed is gathered and classified according to composition, size, temperature and particle impact velocity. Using particle viscosity and sticking prediction models, over seventy (70) tests are compared with each other and with the model previsions providing a useful starting point for a comprehensive critical analysis. Due to the variety of test conditions, the related results are difficult to be pieced together due to differences in particle material and properties.

The historical data of particle deposition obtained over thirty (30) years are classified using particle kinetic energy and the ratio between particle temperature and its softening temperature. Qualitative thresholds for the distinction between particle deposition, surface erosion and particle break-up, based on particle properties and impact conditions, are identified. The outcome of this paper can be used for further development of sticking models or as a starting point for new insight into the problem.

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