As a civil gas turbine cools down, asymmetric natural convective heat transfer causes the bottom sector of the rotor to cool faster than the top; this circumferential thermal gradient can potentially cause the shaft to deflect — a phenomenon called thermal or rotor bow. Rotor bow is tremendously difficult to predict due to its dependence on a number of engine design parameters, in addition to the complex nature of natural convective flows.
A novel experimental facility has been developed to gain further understanding into shutdown cooling of a gas turbine. The scope of this paper is to quantify the effect of basic design features on natural convective cooling in an engine annulus during shut-down; specifically the influence of the thermal boundary wall conditions and the annular diameter ratio. In addition to this, a low-cost, robust thermocouple probe has been developed and validated, which allows for accurate temperature measurements in a natural convective boundary layer.
An extensive experimental campaign has been completed. The key finding is that the local radial wall temperature difference was found to be the most influential parameter on the local heat transfer. Non-isothermal walls did not alter the overall distribution of the inner wall equivalent conductivity. This was true for both cylindrical and conical sections. An appropriate characteristic length for use in the Rayleigh number definition for both the concentric cylinder and conical sections have been validated. The conical inner section (5° hade angle) did not affect the overall heat transfer in the range of conditions tested. Therefore, the mean surface heat transfer for non-isothermal inner and outer profiles, within the range −0.4 < ΔRa/RaLc < 0.4, where the thermal gradient is negative in the clockwise from top-dead-centre, can be predicted using isothermal correlations for RaLc < 5.0 × 105 and Dr <= 1.5.