Turbines remain one of the most efficient devices for extracting energy from a flowing fluid. In a gas turbine engine, axial flow turbines are used to extract energy from the working fluid and drive the compressor, to which they are mechanically connected. To maximize the performance of the axial flow turbine, it is necessary to carry out a design optimization of the components while suitably accounting for losses generated by secondary flows. An axial flow turbine rig is designed, fabricated, and installed to better understand and improve upon secondary flow models used in design procedures. The rig is driven by a blower operating at a constant speed, capable of delivering a maximum airflow rate of 0.4 kg/s and a maximum pressure rise of 500 mbar across the device. The axial flow turbine is mechanically connected to a dynamometer capable of operating at a full load capacity of 5 kW and a maximum rotational speed of 10,000 RPM.
The axial flow turbine, housed between the blower and dynamometer, consists of nozzle guide vanes followed by a rotor. The design pressure ratio is chosen as 1.04, based on the blower delivery conditions and dynamometer specifications. For an initial design, a low-pressure ratio low rotor speed design was selected, allowing for easy installation and testing of the rotating components. The design space for the axial flow turbine was generated by varying flow and geometrical parameters in suitable steps, using a program written in MATLAB 2020a. Using the input variables and applying free vortex theory for three-dimensional blade design, the aerodynamic design of the axial flow turbine was carried out. The axial flow turbine design is experimentally tested with suitable pressure measurements at every station. Experiments are conducted for four different air mass flow rates. At each air mass flow, the rotor speed is varied by increasing/decreasing the dynamometer load. The data is recorded and compared with the design point. The difference between the design and measured performance parameters is observed to be within acceptable limits.