An increasing number of turboexpanders are equipped with Nozzle Guide Vane (NGV) as the first stator stage. By varying the throat area of the first stator vane the NGV enables an additional control methodology to the line-up power output allowing higher operational flexibility and higher efficiency at partial load and partial speed. The design of this component might become critical for enabling high expander availability considering its exposure to high temperature, thermal loading, and fluid induced vibrations. This is especially true also considering that the vibration frequencies of this sub-assembly are influenced by internal clearances and by the value of the friction coefficient, which leaves a relevant margin of error when using numerical methods (such as FEM) for predicting the actual structural behavior of this component. In this paper, the design of a full-scale test bench for the determination of both friction coefficients and modal behavior of a nozzle guide vane geometry is described. The bench enables us to simulate the pre-load due to aerodynamic forces on the NGV airfoil simulating the actual working conditions of bushes and bearings.

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