Blade tip losses represent a major efficiency penalty in a turbine rotor. These losses are presently controlled by maintaining close tolerances on tip clearances. This two-part paper outlines a new methodology for predicting and minimizing tip leakage flows. Part I of the paper describes a series of experiments and analyses which indicated a predominantly inviscid nature of tip leakage flow. The experiments were conducted on a series of three water flow rigs in which leakage quantities were measured over simulated blade tips. As a result of the experiments, a simple tip-leakage model is proposed that treats the normal velocity component in terms of discharge coefficient and conserves the tangential velocity (momentum) component. Identification of tip leakage controlled by a normal discharge coefficient suggests an optimum tip-treatment configuration may be designed through discharge testing of candidate configurations. A preliminary design optimization was conducted on the simple discharge rigs, and the results were evaluated on the water table cascade rig and on a turbine stage.

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