Flutter stability is a dominant design constraint of modern gas and steam turbines. Thus, flutter-tolerant designs are currently explored, where the resulting vibrations remain within acceptable bounds. In particular, friction damping has the potential to yield Limit Cycle Oscillations (LCOs) in the presence of a flutter instability. To predict such LCOs, it is the current practice to model the aerodynamic forces in terms of aerodynamic influence coefficients, derived for some normal modes of the linearized structural model and fixed oscillation frequency. However, this approach neglects that both the nonlinear contact interactions and the aerodynamic stiffness cause a change in the deflection shape and the frequency of the LCO. This, in turn, may have a substantial effect on the aerodynamic damping. The goal of this paper is to assess the technical importance of these neglected interactions. To this end, a state-of-the-art aero-elastic model of a low pressure turbine blade row is considered, undergoing nonlinear frictional contact interactions in the tip shroud interfaces. The LCOs are computed with a fully-coupled harmonic balance method, which iteratively computes the Fourier coefficients of structural deformation and conservative flow variables, as well as the a priori unknown frequency. The coupled algorithm was tested for various combinations of harmonics in both domains and found to provide excellent computational robustness and efficiency. Moreover, a refinement of the conventional energy method is developed and assessed, which accounts for both the nonlinear contact boundary conditions and the linearized aerodynamic influence. It is found that the conventional energy method may not predict a limit cycle oscillation at all while the novel approach presented here can. Furthermore the refined energy method provides deep understanding of the nonlinear aero-elastic interactions.

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