Four-stage low pressure model steam turbine tests are carried out under the low load conditions of 0% to 20% load. In such low load conditions, the reverse flow is generated from turbine exit. Steady pressure measurements using multi-hole pneumatic probes are made to specify the outer boundary of the reverse flow region. The reverse flow regions are determined from the flow angles measured by the multi-hole pneumatic probes, traversing in the radial direction which rotates 360 deg around the longitudinal axis. The outer boundary of the reverse flow regions varies depending on turbine loads and has good agreement with the results of the numerical analyses.

The pressure fluctuations are measured using unsteady pressure transducers installed on both the inner and outer side walls of the outlet stage and on the next-stage stationary blade surfaces to investigate the relation between pressure fluctuation and volumetric flow. It is found that the pressure fluctuations, which are defined by the standard deviation of unsteady pressure, become larger with decreased volumetric flow at the outer side as well as the inner side which is the same as the tendency seen for blade dynamic stress characteristics. The authors have previously reported good agreement between the experimental and numerical results.

The unsteady pressure probe as another measurement technique is employed to investigate the spanwise pressure fluctuations at the outlet of the moving blade. The results show that as the load decreases, large pressure fluctuations are observed in the vicinity of the outer side after the stages where the reverse flow is observed. This is the same tendency as the results of wall pressure measurements. The generation of large pressure fluctuations, detected by the two different measurement techniques, might have a relationship with the effects of not only the vortex motion in the reverse flow region but also the overall flow field (including main forward flow) oscillated by the multiple vortex motions in the reverse flow region as seen in both experiments and computations. The large pressure fluctuations in the vicinity of the outer side after the blade lead to the increase of exciting force and vibration stress on moving blades.

Detailed aerodynamic investigations of these part-load conditions are needed to analyze a blade excitation for further improvement of reliability and availability of steam turbines. The complicated flow structures at low load conditions in a steam turbine can be understood with the aid of both the steady and unsteady flow measurements and calculations.

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