The flow field inside a rotating smooth radial channel with a triangular shaped cross section is investigated. Test conditions resemble those pertaining to the passages used for the internal cooling of the gas turbine blade's leading edge. Heat transfer data are also available from the literature on the same geometry and at comparable working conditions and have been profitably used for a combined aerothermal analysis. The model consists of a straight smooth channel with an equilateral triangle cross section. The rotation axis is aligned with one of the triangle bisectors. Two dimensional particle image velocimetry (PIV) and stereo-PIV were used in order to characterize the inlet flow (in static conditions) and the rotation-induced secondary flow in the channel cross section at Re = 20,000, Ro = 0.2 and Re = 10,000, Ro = 0.4. A wider range of working conditions (Re = 10,000–40,000, Ro = 0.2–0.6) was explored by means of Reynolds averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) simulations carefully validated by the available PIV data. The turbulence was modeled by means of the shear stress transport (SST) model with a hybrid near-wall treatment. The results show that the rotation-induced flow structure is rather complicated and show relevant differences compared to the flow models that have been considered thus far. Indeed, the secondary flow turned out to be characterized by the presence of two or more vortex cells, depending on channel location and Ro number. No separation or reattachment of these structures is found on the channel walls but they have been observed at the channel apexes. The stream-wise velocity distribution shows a velocity peak close to the lower apex and the overall flow structure does not reach a steady configuration along the channel length. This evolution is fastened (in space) if the rotation number is increased while changes of the Re number have no effect. Finally, due to the understanding of the flow mechanisms associated with rotation, it was possible to provide a precise justification of the channel thermal behavior.

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