This paper describes an optical measurement system for monitoring combustion turbine blade tips. The sensor measures distance to a blade tip using triangulation of reflected laser light. The system accomplishes triangulation using an optical position sensing device and high speed data acquisition. In this way, it is able to monitor not only average and minimum blade tip clearances, but to monitor the variations of individual blade tip clearances. By appropriate signal processing, it is possible to determine rotor vibration at the probe axial location, variations in shaft DC position, transient losses in blade tip clearance, the potential for tip and seal rubs, vibrations of individual blades in the tangential direction, and rotor torsional vibration at the probe location. Some aspects of blade and torsional vibrations would require more than one probe. The paper presents static calibration data for the measurement system, showing its degree of linearity and range. The paper also presents data obtained on a dynamic blade test rig with tip passing speeds and blade widths comparable to those encountered in high performance industrial combustion turbines. Data from this rig have been processed to show rotor vibration, shift in shaft average position, blade-to-blade tip clearance variation, and variation with speed of minimum blade tip clearance. The measurement system is designed to produce data suitable for use in the monitoring of advanced combustion turbine durability and the diagnosis of turbine functional problems, static and dynamic.

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