A multistage vaneless counter-rotating turbine (MVCRT) eliminates vanes between rotors, which reduces the weight and size of the turbine and avoids viscous losses associated with vanes pronouncedly. An aircraft engine employing such a turbine would have greater thrust to weight ratio and smaller specific fuel consumption. This paper presents the aerodynamic design philosophy and performance analysis of the MVCRTs for gas turbine engines by a case study. The case is about a 1/2*4 turbine, which consists of a rotating frame and four rotors without any vanes between them. The first rotor and the third rotor are connected by a shaft to drive a compressor with a pressure ratio of 11.8, and the second rotor and the fourth rotor are connected by the rotating frame to deliver a total shaft power of around 2 MW. The stage loading of each rotor and flow axial acceleration of each duct are controlled to provide sufficient inlet swirls for their subsequent rotors. The stage work coefficients of each rotor are 0.95, 2.9, 1.4, and 1.0, respectively. Nonuniform radial circulation distributions are also used to maximize the turbine power output. Centrifugal forces in the outer rotor of the turbine are captured by carrying out a finite element analysis (FEA) to validate the aerodynamic design results. Three-dimensional viscous numerical results show that an adiabatic total-to-total efficiency of 91.47% with a pressure ratio of 9.8 at design condition is obtained and achieves the initial design objective very well. Entropy creation associated with the tip leakage and secondary flow is also illustrated for understanding the origins and effects of losses in the turbine. Pressure ratios and efficiency at the speed combinations of the 80% to 100% inner and outer rotor design speeds are discussed to reveal the turbine characteristics at off-design conditions.

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