In turbomachinery, a considerable proportion of the blade surface area can be covered by transitional boundary layers. This means that accurate prediction of the profile loss and boundary layer behaviour in general depends on the accurate modelling of the transitional boundary layers, especially at low Reynolds numbers. This paper presents a model for determining the intermittency resulting from the unsteady transition caused by the passage of wakes over a blade surface. The model is founded on work by Emmons (1951) who showed that the intermittency could be calculated from a knowledge of the behaviour of randomly formed turbulent spots.
The model is used to calculate the development of the boundary layer on the rotor of a low Reynolds number single-stage turbine. The predictions are compared with experimental results obtained using surface-mounted hot-film anemometers and hot-wire traverses of the rotor mid-span boundary layer at two different rotor-stator gaps. The validity and limitations of the model are discussed.