Experimental simulation and mitigation of contaminant deposition on film cooled gas turbine airfoils
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Deposition of contaminant particles on gas turbine surfaces reduces the aerodynamic and cooling efficiency of the turbine and degrades its materials. Gas turbine designers seek a better understanding of this complicated phenomenon and how to mitigate its effects on engine efficiency and durability. The present study developed an experimental method in wind tunnel facilities to simulate the important physical aspects of the interaction between deposition and turbine cooling, particularly film cooling. This technique consisted of spraying molten wax droplets into the mainstream flow that would deposit and solidify on large scale, cooled, turbine airfoil models in a manner consistent with inertial deposition on turbine surfaces. The wax particles were sized to properly simulate the travel of particles in the flow path, and their adhesion to the surface was modeled by ensuring they remained at least partially molten upon impact. Initial development of this wax spray technique was performed with a turbine blade leading edge model with three rows of showerhead film cooling. It was then applied to turbine vane models with showerhead holes and row on pressure side consisting of either standard cylindrical holes or similar holes situated in a spanwise, recessed trench. Vane models were either approximately adiabatic or had a thermal conductivity selected to simulate the conjugate heat transfer of turbine airfoils at engine conditions. These models were also used to measure the adiabatic film effectiveness and overall cooling effectiveness in order to better assess how the cooling design interacted with deposition. Deposit growth was found to be sensitive to the mainstream air and the model surface temperatures and the solidification temperature of the wax. Deposits typically grew to an equilibrium thickness caused by a balance between erosion and adhesion. The existence of film cooling substantially redistributed deposit growth, but changes in blowing ratio had a minor effect. A hypothesis was proposed and substantiated for the physical mechanisms governing wax deposit growth, and its applicability to engine situations was discussed.