To assess the possibility of tip clearance loss reduction and to explore the nature and origin of tip clearance loss, blade tip geometries which reduce the roughly 40% of total loss occurring within the gap were studied. The shapes investigated aimed at reducing or avoiding the gap separation bubble thought to contribute significantly to both internal gap loss and to the endwall mixing loss. It was found that radiusing and contouring the blade at gap inlet eliminated the separation bubble and reduced the internal gap loss but created a higher mixing loss to give almost unchanged overall loss coefficients when compared with the simple sharp edged flat tipped blade. The separation bubble does not therefore appear to influence the mixing loss. Using a method of assessing linear cascade experimental data as though it were a rotor with work transfer, one radiused geometry, contoured to shed radial flow into the gap and reduce the leakage mass flow, was found to have a significantly higher efficiency. This demonstrates the effectiveness of the data analysis method and that cascade loss coefficient alone or gap discharge coefficient cannot be used to accurately evaluate tip clearance performance. Contouring may ultimately lead to better rotor blade performances.

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