In gas turbines, pressure variations induced by the rotor’s rotation and created by the stator and rotor-stator interactions cause hot gas to enter into the wheelspace (i.e., the region between the stator and rotor disks). Purge flow is used to prevent the hot gas from entering, and rim seals are used to minimize the amount of purge flow needed. Preventing hot-gas ingestion is essential to protect the structural integrity of the rotor and stator disks.

In this study, a reduced-order model is developed to predict hot-gas ingestion for a given purge flow and for an axial and a radial rim seal and to guide the design of rim seals. The model developed is semi-empirical — utilizing available data in the literature and recognizing certain trends and universal properties in the data if proper dimensionless parameters are used. The model has the advantage of only requiring the following inputs to make predictions: rotor’s rotation speed, flow rate in the turbine’s hot-gas path, purge flow rate, and dimensions of the seal and the wheelspace. Thus, this model differs from existing models in that an experimental input on parameters such as discharge coefficient, minimum sealing flow rate, or mixing length across the rim seal are not needed.

The model developed was assessed by using it to predict hot-gas ingestion for a range of purge flow rates (0 to minimum needed to prevent ingestion), rotor speeds (2,000 to 3,500 rpm), and dimensions of the seal geometries (amount of overlap in the seal and width of the flow path through the seal) and then comparing the prediction with experimental data not used in the creation of the model.

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