The turbine center frame (TCF) is an inherent component of modern turbofan aircraft engines, used for facilitating the large radius change between the high-pressure (HPT) and low-pressure (LPT) turbines. Secondary flow features that develop in the TCF result in total pressure loss of the mainstream flow and a subsequent performance reduction for the whole of the engine. Purge flows from the HPT interact with these flow features affecting their development and strength. Understanding the details of this interaction is therefore of paramount importance for the design of more efficient engines of the future.
This paper presents a detailed investigation of the interaction of purge flows from the hub and shroud cavities upstream and downstream of the HPT rotor with the secondary flow features in a TCF. The investigation was conducted using aerodynamic and seed gas concentration measurements in an engine-representative HPT-TCF setup and under engine-realistic operating conditions.
The upstream purge flows interact with the flow-field of the rotor, and especially with the upper and lower passage vortices where they are mainly entrained, forming “zones-of-influence” that occupy the upper and lower 35% of the span at the TCF inlet. Dilution of these purge flows occurs through vortex-to-vortex interactions and in-plane flow migrations driven by the vortices. At the outlet of the TCF, the upstream purge flows form effectiveness bands that encapsulate the various counter-rotating vortices near the hub and shroud. This indicates that these counter-rotating vortices were formed at the inlet of the TCF, in a flow that already includes the upstream purge flows.
The downstream purge flows exit the hub and shroud cavities forming effectiveness boundary layers at the inlet of the TCF of thickness equal to around 15% of the span. The circumferential distribution of these purge flows is however asymmetric, owing to the also asymmetric static pressure distribution at the inlet of the TCF, as a result of the effect of the propagated flow-field of the stator vanes.
At the outlet of the TCF, the distribution of the downstream hub purge appears as distinct effectiveness lobes with the same periodicity as the HPT vanes. The formation of the lobes is as a result of intense interaction between the counter-rotating vortex pairs and the downstream hub purge flow. The viscous shear mixing due to this interaction is also the cause for the low total pressure in the regions influenced by the lobes. The distribution of the downstream shroud purge appears as alternating regions of high and low effectiveness as a result of radially inwards and outwards flow migrations caused by the shearing actions of the counter rotating vortices near the shroud. These migrations are the cause of regions with the lowest total pressure at the outlet of the TCF.