State-of-the-art experimental and computational techniques are used to study a unique class of problems involving the investigation of the flow field surrounding shrouded-airfoils with tip gap leakage in a dual passage cascade. A complex hybrid grid generation methodology was established, and used to model the complete experimental setup. This complex gridding methodology allowed the physics of the experiment to be modeled completely, while at the same time keeping the overall cell count of the grid within reasonable limits. The final mesh consisted of a fine, high quality grid comprised of over 31,000,000 finite volumes. The gridding methodology allowed for the use of a high-quality, super-block, multi-topology (including triangular prisms, hexahedra, pyramids, and tetrahedra), unstructured/adaptive, non-conformal mesh to accurately resolve both the near wall, and the mean flow features. The experimental setup that was simulated was run under realistic engine conditions with inlet Reynolds number based on chord length of approximately 650,000 and maximum Mach number of 1.1. The realizable k-ε turbulence model was used, with the viscous sub-layer resolved on all surfaces down to y+ equal to one or less everywhere. A comprehensive solution management technique was established to obtain a fully converged solution in a robust and economical manner. The simulation was run using a Sun Ultra Enterprise 15000 server with 72 cpus in parallel. Using this optimal solution technique the simulation ran for over 6000 iterations, while taking only about 150 hours to run such a massive simulation to convergence. Both experimental and computational results are used in Part I of a three part series of papers to show good agreement between the cases for purposes of validation. The computational results are then used to document physics mechanisms responsible for total pressure loss, loss location, and relative magnitude of losses that were not identifiable through the experimental techniques used. Parts II by Strasser et al. [1] and III by Wilkins et al. [2] go on to document the physics of similar flow through realistic engine conditions and to document the heat transfer also involved.

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