The use of purge flow in gas turbines allows for high turbine entry temperatures, which are essential to produce high cycle efficiency. Purge air is bled from the compressor and reintroduced in the turbine to cool vulnerable components. Wheel-spaces are formed between adjacent rotating and stationary discs, with purge air supplied at low radius before exiting into the mainstream gas-path through a rim-seal at the disc periphery. An aerodynamic penalty is incurred as the purge flow egress interacts with the mainstream. This study presents unparalleled three-dimensional velocity data from a single-stage turbine test rig, specifically designed to investigate egress-mainstream interaction using optical measurement techniques.
Volumetric Velocimetry is applied to the rotating environment with phase-locked measurements used to identify and track the vortical secondary flow features through the blade passage. A baseline case without purge flow is compared to experiments with a 1.7% purge mass fraction; the latter was chosen to ensure a fully sealed wheel-space. A non-localised vortex tracking function is applied to the data to identify the position of the core centroids. The strength of the secondary-flow vortices was determined by using a circulation criterion on rotated planes aligned to the vortex filaments.
The pressure-side leg of the horseshoe vortex and a second vortex associated with the egress flow were identified by the experimental campaign. In the absence of purge flow the two vortices merged, forming the passage vortex. With the addition of purge flow, the two cores remained independent to 40% of the blade axial chord, while also demonstrating an increased radial migration and intensification of the passage vortex. The egress core was shown to remain closer to the suction-surface with purge flow. Importantly, where the vortex filaments demonstrated strong radial or tangential components of velocity, the circulation level calculated from axial planes underpredicted the true circulation by up to 50%.