Testing a sub-component or testing a scaled model are the approaches currently used to reduce the development cost of the new low-pressure (LP) section of a steam turbine. In any case, testing campaigns are run at a limited number of operating conditions. Therefore, some correlations are used to build a performance model of the LP module and expand the usage of a limited set of experimental data to cover the application range encountered in the steam turbine market. Another approach, which has become feasible during the last decade, is the usage of CFD calculations.
These two approaches include a certain amount of uncertainty in the performance of the LP section, mainly related to the losses caused by the moisture content in the flow.
In the present paper, the results of the analysis of a cutting-edge low-pressure section for small steam turbines are presented. The results are obtained by using a CFD commercial code with a set of user defined subroutines to model the effects of droplets nucleation and growth. Different operating conditions are considered, with different wetness at the exit and different pressure ratios, in order to clearly show the loss trend for different levels of exit moisture. The numerical results are compared with the experimental data, showing a significant improvement in the performance predictability for the considered case and demonstrating the benefit of using a CFD approach instead of using existing correlations.