Experimental Investigation of Three-Dimensional Mechanisms in Low-Pressure Turbine Flutter

Abstract: The continuous trend in gas turbine design towards lighter, more powerful and more reliable engines on one side and use of alternative fuels on the other side renders flutter problems as one of the paramount challenges in engine design. Flutter denotes a self-excited and self-sustained aeroelastic instability phenomenon that can lead to material fatigue and eventually damage of structure in a short period of time unless properly damped. The design for flutter safety involves the prediction of unsteady aerodynamics as well as structural dynamics that is mostly based on in-house developed numerical tools. While high confidence has been gained on the structural side unanticipated flutter occurrences during engine design, testing and operation evidence a need for enhanced validation of aerodynamic models despite the degree of sophistication attained. The continuous development of these models can only be based on the deepened understanding of underlying physical mechanisms from test data.As a matter of fact most flutter test cases treat the turbomachine flow in two-dimensional manner indicating that the problem is solved as plane representation at a certain radius rather than representing the complex annular geometry of a real engine. Such considerations do consequently not capture effects that are due to variations in the third dimension, i.e. in radial direction. In this light the present thesis has been formulated to study three-dimensional effects during flutter in the annular environment of a low-pressure turbine blade row and to describe the importance on prediction of flutter stability. The work has been conceived as compound experimental and computational work employing a new annular sector cascade test facility. The aeroelastic response phenomenon is studied in the influence coefficient domain having one blade oscillating in various three-dimensional rigid-body modes and measuring the unsteady response on several blades and at various radial positions. On the computational side a state-of-the-art industrial numerical prediction tool has been used that allowed for two-dimensional and three-dimensional linearized unsteady Euler analyses.The results suggest that considerable three-dimensional effects are present, which are harming prediction accuracy for flutter stability when employing a two-dimensional plane model. These effects are mainly apparent as radial gradient in unsteady response magnitude from tip to hub indicating that the sections closer to the hub experience higher aeroelastic response than their equivalent plane representatives. Other effects are due to turbomachinery-typical three-dimensional flow features such as hub endwall and tip leakage vortices, which considerably affect aeroelastic prediction accuracy. Both effects are of the same order of magnitude as effects of design parameters such as reduced frequency, flow velocity level and incidence. Although the overall behavior is captured fairly well when using two-dimensional simulations notable improvement has been demonstrated when modeling fully three-dimensional and including tip clearance.