This paper presents the conjugate heat transfer in a submillimeter scale microturbine characterized by laminar yet highly three-dimensional flows. Such a miniature turbine is part of a MEMS (microelectromechanical system) power plant-on-a-chip currently under development for distributed power generation from waste heat. Adiabatic subsonic flows in the turbine have previously been studied numerically and are characterized by low Reynolds number laminar flow (Re < 2500) but with complex vortical structures. The present work addresses the influence of these flow structures on heat transfer, including the effect of the horseshoe and tip vortices. Calculations were done for tip clearance gaps equal to 0%, 5% and 10% blade height. Three different scenarios were considered: adiabatic walls, the hub and casing temperature of 573K or the hub at 573K and the casing at 450K, for incoming flow at 600K. The heat transfer is more variable in the suction side since dominant vortices are adjacent to this blade side. The heat flux even changes its sign where the vortices begin to separate from the suction side, indicating that gas cooled in the hub and casing boundary layers is transported on the blades by the horseshoe vortices. The tip vortex prevents the top passage vortex from interacting with the suction side, which eliminates the negative heat transfer in this region. Due to the dominant vortices, the Nusselt number is found to be a function of the thermal boundary conditions and cannot be predicted with traditional boundary layer correlations.

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