The optimization and evaluation of blading clearance is important for gas turbine efficiency and performance. The Ansaldo GT36 gas turbine offers high efficiency together with outstanding flexibility across a large load range. Active management of engine clearances during the complete development process followed by a thorough validation on the Ansaldo test plant facility in Birr, Switzerland enables the GT to attain ambitious clearance targets. The clearance at baseload must be minimized but is limited by the pinch point clearance during cold, warm and hot start-ups — including normal and fast ramp-up and/or shutdown. Therefore transient analysis is necessary for covering the different operating conditions. A well-established process of 2d finite element modelling of the whole engine model (WEM) comprised of axis-symmetric and plane stress elements was used during the design process from concept to detailed design to optimize the clearances. It delivers the transient stator and rotor deformation and together with the compressor and turbine airfoil deformation based on 3D models the basic clearance evaluation process is defined. The GT engine design was significantly influenced, starting with a simplified version of the WEM for identification of the most promising variants. Subsequently a detailed WEM was developed which is fully validated against measurements on the test engine. Different 3D effects are considered separately at identified critical transient conditions and overlaid on the 2d clearances which lead to the final optimized clearances. In addition to this, limitations from each step of the manufacturing process were identified and improved to reduce tolerances and uncertainties to their minimum. The results of the calculation and clearance prediction process are compared against clearance measurements during all kinds of GT operation and cooldown. Passive clearance indicators showing the remaining gap till rubbing would occur and rub marks, in areas that tolerate it, further validate the clearances and clearance prediction process.

This content is only available via PDF.