The aerodynamic efficiency of turbomachinery blades is profoundly affected by the occurrence of laminar-turbulent transition in the boundary layer since skin friction and losses rise for the turbulent state. Depending on the free-stream turbulence level, we can identify different paths towards a turbulent state. The present study uses direct numerical simulation as the primary tool to investigate the flow behaviour of the low-pressure turbine blade. The computational set-up was designed to follow the experiments by Lengani & Simoni [1]. In the simulations, the flow past only one blade is computed, with periodic boundary conditions in the cross-flow directions to account for the cascade. Isotropic homogeneous free-stream turbulence is prescribed at the inlet. The free-stream turbulence is prescribed as a superposition of Fourier modes with a random phase shift. Two levels of the free-stream turbulence intensity were simulated (Tu = 0.19% and 5.2%), with the integral length scale being 0.167c, at the leading edge. We observed that in case of low free-stream turbulence on the suction side, the Kelvin–Helmholz instability dominated the transition process and full-span vortices were shed from the separation bubble. Transition on the suction side proceeded more rapidly in the high-turbulence case, where streaks broke down into turbulent spots and caused bypass transition. On the pressure side, we have identified the appearance of longitudinal vortical structures, where increasing the turbulence level gives rise to more longitudinal structures. We note that these vortical structures are not produced by Görtler instability.

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