An experimental study of film cooling, thermal barrier coatings and contaminant deposition on an internally cooled turbine airfoil model
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Approximately 10% of all energy consumed in the United States is derived from high temperature gas turbine engines. As a result, a 1% increase in engine efficiency would yield enough energy to satisfy the demands of approximately 1 million homes and savings of over $800 million in fuel costs per year. Efficiency of gas turbine engines can be improved by increasing the combustor temperature. Modern engines now operate at temperatures that far exceed the material limitations of the metals they are comprised of in the pursuit of increased thermal efficiency. Various techniques to thermally protect the turbine components are used to allow for safe operation of the engines despite the extreme environments: film cooling, internal convective cooling, and thermal barrier coatings. Historically, these thermal protection techniques have been studied separately without account for any conjugate effects. The end goal of this work is to provide a greater understanding of how the conjugate effects might alter the predictions of thermal behavior and consequently improve engine designs to pursue increased efficiency. The primary focus of this study was to complete the first open literature, high resolution experiments of a modeled first stage turbine vane with both active film cooling and a simulated thermal barrier coating (TBC). This was accomplished by scaling the thermal behavior of a real engine component to the model vane using the matched Biot number method. Various film cooling configurations were tested on both the suction and pressure side of the model vane including: round holes, craters, traditional trenches and a novel modified trench. IR thermography and ribbon thermocouples were used to measure the surface temperature of the TBC and the temperature at the interface of the TBC and vane wall, respectively. This work found that the presence of a TBC significantly dampens the effect of altering film cooling conditions when measuring the TBC interface temperature. This work also found that in certain conditions adiabatic effectiveness does not provide an accurate assessment of how a film cooling design may perform in a real engine. An additional focus of this work was to understand how contaminant deposition alters the cooling performance of a vane with a TBC. This work focused on quantifying the detrimental effects of active deposition by seeding the mainstream flow of the test facility with simulated molten coal ash. It was found that in most cases, except for round holes operating at relatively high blowing ratios, the performance of film cooling was negatively altered by the presence of contaminant deposition. However, the cooling performance at the interface of the TBC and vane wall actually improved with deposition due to the additional thermal resistance that was added to the exterior surface of the model vane.