A parametric set of velocity distributions has been investigated using a flat-plate experiment. Three different diffusion factors and peak velocity locations were tested. These were designed to mimic the suction surfaces of low pressure (LP) turbine blades. Unsteady wakes, inherent in real turbomachinery flows, were generated using a moving bar mechanism. A turbulence grid generated a freestream turbulence level that is believed to be typical of LP turbines. Measurements were taken across a Reynolds number range 50,000–220,000 at three reduced frequencies (0.314, 0.628, and 0.942). Boundary layer traverses were performed at the nominal trailing edge using a laser Doppler anemometry system and hot films were used to examine the boundary layer behavior along the surface. For every velocity distribution tested, the boundary layer separated in the diffusing flow downstream of the peak velocity. The loss production is dominated by the mixing in the reattachment process, mixing in the turbulent boundary layer downstream of reattachment, and the effects of the unsteady interaction between the wakes and the boundary layer. A sensitive balance governs the optimal location of peak velocity on the surface. Moving the velocity peak forward on the blade was found to be increasingly beneficial when bubble-generated losses are high, i.e. at low Reynolds number, at low reduced frequency, and at high diffusion factors.

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