Fouling of compressor blades is an important mechanism leading to performance deterioration in gas turbines over time. Fouling is caused by the adherence of particles to airfoils and annulus surfaces. Particles that cause fouling are typically smaller than 2 to 10 microns. Smoke, oil mists, carbon, and sea salts are common examples. Fouling can be controlled by appropriate air filtration systems, and can often be reversed to some degree by detergent washing of components. The adherence of particles is impacted by oil or water mists. The result is a build up of material that causes increased surface roughness and to some degree changes the shape of the airfoil (if the material build up forms thicker layers of deposits), with subsequent deterioration in performance. Fouling mechanisms are evaluated based on observed data, and a discussion on fouling susceptibility is provided. A particular emphasis will be on the capabilities of modern air filtration systems.

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