Non-synchronous excitation under low volume operation is a major risk to the mechanical integrity of last stage moving blades (LSMBs) in low-pressure (LP) steam turbines. These vibrations are often induced by a rotating aerodynamic instability similar to rotating stall in compressors.

Unsteady computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has been applied to simulate the rotating stall phenomenon in two model turbines. It is shown that the investigated flow field presents a challenge to conventional Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes equations simulations. The modelling has been enhanced by applying scale-resolving turbulence modelling, which can simulate large-scale turbulent fluctuations. With this type of simulation a qualitative and quantitative agreement between CFD and measurement for the unsteady and time averaged flow field has been achieved.

The results of the numerical investigation allow for a detailed insight into the dynamic flow field and reveal information on the nature of the excitation mechanism. It is concluded that the CFD approach developed can be used to assess LSMB blade designs prior to model turbine tests to check whether they are subjected to vibration under LVF caused by rotating stall.

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