Abstract

An experimental investigation of the effect of inlet flow conditions and improved geometries on the performance of modern axial exhaust diffusers of gas turbines has been completed. The first article in the two-part series [1] leveraged a scaled model to examine parametric variations in both diffuser geometry and inlet flow conditions with the latter having significant consequences for diffuser performance. This second article pivots on the conclusions of the companion article and offers findings and physical insight on diffuser performance for on- and off-design inlet flow conditions. Using a high-performing diffuser design from the companion article, an experimental investigation is carried out with tailored distributions of inlet Mach distribution, inlet swirl angle, and inlet radial flow angle which are designed to replicate conditions of an industry diffuser at various loads. Six different inlet distributions were investigated including a design condition and five other conditions which feature mass flows both greater than and less than the design condition. The measurements were taken at near full-scale turbine exit Reynolds number (ReH roughly 39% of the value for an H-class diffuser) and at full-scale turbine exit Mach number. The study was accomplished in a blow-down, cold-flow wind tunnel facility, and measurements included 5-hole probe traverses at planes of interest, axial pressure distributions, strut pressure distributions, and oil-flow visualization. Over the range of inlet conditions studied, pressure recovery at the exit varied by up to 68.5% from that of on-design operation. Tracking of performance coefficients along the axial direction suggested the existence of flow phenomena which were in some cases able to be confirmed with on-strut pressure measurements and flow visualization. In addition to physical insight, the results presented here offer an experimental benchmark for the sensitivity of diffuser performance to inlet flow conditions.

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