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Gas Turbines: Combustion, Fuels, and Emissions

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):101501-101501-10. doi:10.1115/1.4007013.

Environmental regulations are continuously pushing lower emissions with an impact on the combustion process in gas turbines (GTs). As a consequence, GT combustors operate in very lean regimes (i.e., at relatively low temperature) to reduce NOx formation. Unfortunately, stabilization becomes a challenge for these lean premixed flames. The extremely unsteady dynamics of swirl stabilized flames present crucial issues and this investigation aim is understanding the interaction of swirl stabilization with large coherent fluctuations inherent to vortex breakdown. The investigation utilizes a simplified cylindrical model combustor consisting of a premixing tube discharging in a larger combustion chamber. Fuel and swirling air are separately injected in the mixing tube so that a partially premixed swirling jet encounters vortex breakdown and allows the partially premixed flame to stabilize. The aforementioned extreme sensitivity of lean partially premixed flames challenges any investigation either for measuring, simulating, or post-processing the case of interest. In this paper, the problem is addressed using large eddy simulation (LES) and planar laser induced fluorescence. The LES data are used to follow the fuel air/mixing along with the fuel combustion evidencing large-scale dynamics. These dynamics are further investigated using proper orthogonal decomposition to identify the role of the premixing stage and of the precessing vortex core in the flame behavior.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):101502-101502-8. doi:10.1115/1.4007103.

Fuel-cooled thermal management, including endothermic cracking and reforming of hydrocarbon fuels, is an enabling technology for advanced aero engines and offers potential for cycle improvements and pollutant emissions control. The principal engine operability issue that will affect this enabling hydrocarbon fuel cooling technology is coke formation and deposition. Furthermore, the extent to which the benefits of high heat sink cooling technology can be realized is directly related to our ability to suppress coke formation and deposition. The successful implementation of this enabling technology is, therefore, predicated on coke suppression. In situ continuous coke deposit removal by catalytic steam gasification is being developed and successfully demonstrated as a means for suppressing pyrolytic coke deposit in fuel-cooled thermal management systems for advanced aero engines. The objective of this research is to investigate the in situ continuous coke deposit removal by catalytic steam gasification for suppressing pyrolytic coke deposition using a single-tube reactor simulator under representative hypersonic operating conditions. A coke removal system removes coke deposit from the walls of a high temperature passage in which hydrocarbon fuel is present. The system includes a carbon-steam gasification catalyst and a water source. The carbon-steam gasification catalyst is applied to the walls of the high temperature passage. The water reacts with the coke deposit on the walls of the fuel passage side to remove the coke deposit from the walls by carbon-steam gasification in the presence of the carbon-steam gasification catalyst. Experimental data shows the in situ continuous coke deposit removal by catalytic steam gasification is able to reduce coke deposit rate by more than ten times.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):101503-101503-9. doi:10.1115/1.4007024.

Helmholtz resonators are often used in the gas turbine industry for the damping of thermoacoustic instabilities. To prevent thermal destruction, these devices are usually cooled by a purging flow. Since the acoustic velocity inside the neck of the resonator becomes very high already at moderate pressure oscillation levels, hot-gas penetration cannot always be fully avoided. This study extends a well-known nonlinear impedance model to include the influence of hot-gas intrusion into the Helmholtz resonator neck. A time-dependent but spatially averaged density function of the volume flow in the neck is developed. The steady component of this density function is implemented into the nonlinear impedance model to account for the effect of hot-gas intrusion. The proposed model predicts a significant shift in the resonance frequency of the damper towards higher frequencies, depending on the amplitude of the acoustic velocity in the neck and the temperature of the penetrating hot gas. Subsequently, the model is verified by the experimental investigation of two resonance frequencies (86 Hz and 128 Hz) for two hot gas temperatures (1470 K and 570 K) and various pressure oscillation amplitudes. The multimicrophone method, in combination with a microphone flush-mounted in the resonator volume, is used to determine the impedance of the Helmholtz damper. Additionally, a movable ultra-thin thermocouple was used to determine the degree of hot-gas penetration and the change of the mean temperature at various axial positions in the neck. A very good agreement between the model and the experimental data is obtained for all levels of pressure amplitudes and of hot-gas penetration depths. The mean air temperatures in the neck were accurately predicted too.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Gas Turbines: Controls, Diagnostics, and Instrumentation

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):101601-101601-9. doi:10.1115/1.4007064.

The performance of gas turbines degrades over time and, as a consequence, a decrease in gas turbine performance parameters also occurs, so that they may fall below a given threshold value. Therefore, corrective maintenance actions are required to bring the system back to an acceptable operating condition. In today’s competitive market, the prognosis of the time evolution of system performance is also recommended, in such a manner as to take appropriate action before any serious malfunctioning has occurred and, as a consequence, to improve system reliability and availability. Successful prognostics should be as accurate as possible, because false alarms cause unnecessary maintenance and nonprofitable stops. For these reasons, a prognostic methodology, developed by the authors, is applied in this paper to assess its prediction reliability for several degradation scenarios typical of gas turbine performance deterioration. The methodology makes use of the Monte Carlo statistical method to provide, on the basis of the recordings of past behavior, a prediction of future availability, i.e., the probability that the considered machine or component can be found in the operational state at a given time in the future. The analyses carried out in this paper aim to assess the influence of the degradation scenario on methodology prediction reliability, as a function of a user-defined threshold and minimum value allowed for the parameter under consideration. A technique is also presented and discussed, in order to improve methodology prediction reliability by means a correction factor applied to the time points used for methodology calibration. The results presented in this paper show that, for all the considered degradation scenarios, the prediction error is lower than 4% (in most cases, it is even lower than 2%), if the availability is estimated for the next trend, while it is not higher than 12%, if the availability is estimated five trends ahead. The application of a proper correction factor allows the prediction errors after five trends to be reduced to approximately 5%.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Gas Turbines: Heat Transfer

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):101901-101901-8. doi:10.1115/1.4007057.

An accelerated deposition test facility is used to study the effect of particle size and film cooling on deposit roughness, spatial distribution, and thickness. Tests were run at gas turbine representative inlet Mach numbers (0.08) and temperatures (1080 °C). Deposits were created from a subbituminous coal fly ash with mass median diameters from 4 to 16 micron (Stokes numbers ranging from 0.1 to 1.9). Two CFM56-5B nozzle guide vane doublets comprising three full passages and two half passages of flow were utilized as the test articles. Tests were run with three levels of film cooling. The addition of film cooling to the vanes was shown to decrease the deposit capture efficiency by as much as a factor of 3 and shift the primary location of deposit buildup to the leading edge, coincident with an increased region of positive cooling backflow margin. Video taken during the tests noted that film cooling holes with a negative backflow margin were primary areas of deposit formation, regardless of the film cooling percentage. The Stokes number was shown to have a marked effect on the vane capture efficiency, with the largest Stokes number ash (St = 1.9) approximately 3 times as likely to stick to the vane as the smallest Stokes number ash (St = 0.1). Posttest observations on the deposit thickness were made using a coordinate measurement machine. The deposit thickness was noted to be reduced with a decreasing Stokes number and an increased film cooling percentage. The deposit surface roughness falls with particle size but is only weakly dependent on the cooling level.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Gas Turbines: Industrial & Cogeneration

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102001-102001-11. doi:10.1115/1.4007126.

There exists a widespread interest in the application of gas turbine power augmentation technologies in both electric power generation and mechanical drive markets, attributable to deregulation in the power generation sector, significant loss in power generation capacity combined with increased electric rates during peak demand period, and need for a proper selection of the gas turbine in a given application. In this study, detailed thermo-economic analyses of various power augmentation technologies, implemented on a selected gas turbine, have been performed to identify the best techno-economic solution depending on the selected climatic conditions. The presented results show that various power augmentation technologies examined have different payback periods. Such a techno-economic analysis is necessary for proper selection of a power augmentation technology.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Gas Turbines: Microturbines and Small Turbomachinery

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102301-102301-10. doi:10.1115/1.4007012.

The present study deals with the integration between a thermo-photo-voltaic generator (TPV) and an organic Rankine cycle (ORC), named here TORCIS (thermo-photo-voltaic organic Rankine cycle integrated system). The investigated TORCIS system is suitable for combined heat and power (CHP) applications, such as residential and tertiary sector users. The aim of the research project on this innovative system is the complete definition of the components’ design and the preprototyping characterization of the system, covering all the unresolved issues. This paper shows the results of a preliminary thermodynamic analysis of the system. In more details, TPV is a system to convert, into electric energy, the radiation emitted from an artificial heat source (i.e., combustion of fuel) by the use of photovoltaic cells; in this system, the produced electric power is strictly connected to the thermal one, as their ratio is almost constant and cannot be changed without severe loss in performance. The coupling between TPV and ORC allows us to overcome this limitation and to realize a cogenerative system, which can be regulated with a large degree of freedom, changing the electric-to-thermal power ratio. The paper presents and discusses the TORCIS achievable performance, highlighting its potential in the field of distributed generation and cogenerative systems.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102302-102302-9. doi:10.1115/1.4007120.

This paper presents a study on a small centrifugal impeller for microturbine application from a manufacturing perspective. The aim is to analyze the impact of geometric deviations on part performance using adequate performance modeling tools and statistical methods. A one-dimensional (1D) performance analysis tool was developed in-house derived from the meanline and two-zone modeling methods. The 1D model proved to be a simple and computationally inexpensive tool for having a quick performance analysis of the impeller using basic geometric information extracted from part drawings. For the sensitivity analysis, a total of eight input geometric parameters, including radii, tip-clearance, and blade angles, were varied individually within specific limits in the 1D tool for classifying their influence on the output performance. Since the 1D model is a simplified version of a much more complex three-dimensional (3D) model, a commercial computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tool was used to provide a comparison with the 1D model and scrutinize the effects of such deviations on the fluid behavior inside the impeller passage at a detailed level. For uncertainty quantification, Monte Carlo simulation was performed using the 1D model to assess the variability of overall impeller output performance to simultaneous random deviations in the input geometric parameters. The study is useful to evaluate the possibility of designing gas turbine parts for manufacturability and superior production cost-effectiveness.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Gas Turbines: Structures and Dynamics

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102501-102501-13. doi:10.1115/1.4007061.

Gas bearings in oil-free microturbomachinery for gas process applications and power generation (<400 kW) must be reliable and inexpensive, ensuring low drag power and thermal stability. Bump-type foil bearings (BFBs) and overleaf-type foil bearings are in use in specialized applications, though their development time (design and prototyping), exotic materials, and excessive manufacturing cost still prevent their widespread usage. Metal mesh foil bearings (MMFBs), on the other hand, are an inexpensive alternative that use common materials and no restrictions on intellectual property. Laboratory testing shows that prototype MMFBs perform similarly as typical BFBs, but offer significantly larger damping to dissipate mechanical energy due to rotor vibrations. This paper details a one-to-one comparison of the static and dynamic forced performance characteristics of a MMFB against a BFB of similar size and showcases the advantages and disadvantages of MMFBs. The bearings for comparison are a generation I BFB and a MMFB, both with a slenderness ratio L/D = 1.04. Measurements of rotor lift-off speed and drag friction at start-up and airborne conditions were conducted for rotor speeds to 70 krpm and under identical specific loads (W/LD = 0.06 to 0.26 bar). Static load versus bearing elastic deflection tests evidence a typical hardening nonlinearity with mechanical hysteresis, the MMFB showing two to three times more material damping than the BFB. The MMFB exhibits larger drag torques during rotor start-up, and shut-down tests though bearing lift-off happens at lower rotor speeds (∼15 krpm). As the rotor becomes airborne, both bearings offer very low drag friction coefficients, ∼0.03 for the MMFB and ∼0.04 for the BFB in the speed range 20–40 krpm. With the bearings floating on a journal spinning at 50 krpm, the MMFB dynamic direct force coefficients show little frequency dependency, while the BFB stiffness and damping increases with frequency (200–400 Hz). The BFB has a much larger stiffness and viscous damping coefficients than the MMFB. However, the MMFB material loss factor is at least twice as large as that in the BFB. The experiments show that the MMFB, when compared to the BFB, has a lower drag power and earlier lift-off speed and with dynamic force coefficients having a lesser dependency on whirl frequency excitation.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102502-102502-7. doi:10.1115/1.4007121.

An energy-based fatigue lifing method for the determination of the full-life and critical-life of in-service structures subjected to axial isothermal-mechanical fatigue (IMF) has been developed. The foundation of this procedure is the energy-based axial room-temperature lifing model, which states: the total strain energy dissipated during both a quasi-static process and a dynamic (fatigue) process is the same material property. The axial IMF lifing framework is composed of the following entities: (1) the development of an axial IMF testing capability; (2) the creation of a testing procedure capable of assessing the strain energy dissipated during both a quasi-static process and a dynamic process at elevated temperatures; and (3) the incorporation of the effect of thermal loading into the axial fatigue lifing model. Both an axial IMF capability and a detailed testing procedure were created. The axial IMF capability was employed to produce full-life and critical-life predictions as functions of temperature, which were shown to have an excellent correlation with experimental fatigue data. For the highest operating temperature, the axial IMF full-life prediction was compared to lifing predictions made by both the universal slopes and the uniform material law prediction and was found to be more accurate at an elevated temperature.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102503-102503-8. doi:10.1115/1.4007026.

The rod-fastened rotor (RFR) is comprised of a series of discs clamped together by a central tie rod or several tie rods on the pitch circle diameter. The equivalent flexural stiffness of contact interfaces K c in the RFR is the key concern for accurate rotor dynamic performance analysis. Each contact interface was modeled as a bending spring with a stiffness of Kc and a hinge in this study. The contact states of the contact interfaces, which depend on the pretightening forces and bending moments (static), have effects on Kc . The approach to calculating Kc in two contact states is presented. The first contact state is that the whole zone of the contact interface is in contact; Kc is determined by the contact layer, which consists of asperities of the contact surfaces. Hertz contact theory and the Greenwood and Williamson (GW) statistical model are used to calculate the equivalent flexural stiffness of the contact layer Kcc . The second contact state is that some zones of the contact interface are separated (when the bending moment is relatively large); the equivalent flexural stiffness of the rotor segment Ksf (not including Kcc ) decreases, as the material in the separated zone has no contribution to the bending load-carrying capacity of the rotor. The strain energy, which is calculated by the finite element method (FEM), is used to determine Ksf . The stiffness Ksf is equivalent to the series stiffness of the discs of the rotor segment with flexural stiffness of Kd and a spring with bending stiffness of Kcf in the location of the contact interface, so Kc is equal to the series stiffness of Kcc and Kcf in the second contact state. The results of a simplified RFR indicate that, for a fixed pretightening force, Kcc decreases with bending moments in the first contact state, whereas increases with bending moments in the second contact state. In addition, Kcf and Kc decrease abruptly with the increase of bending moments in the second contact state when the rotor is subjected to a relatively large pretightening force. Finally, the multipoint exciting method was used to measure the modal parameters of the experimental RFR. It is found that the experimental modal frequencies decrease as the pretightening force decreases.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102504-102504-8. doi:10.1115/1.4007078.

The traditional method for hydrodynamic journal bearing analysis usually applies the lubrication theory based on the Reynolds equation and suitable empirical modifications to cover turbulence, heat transfer, and cavitation. In cases of complex bearing geometries for steam and heavy-duty gas turbines, this approach has its obvious restrictions in regard to detail flow recirculation, mixing, mass balance, and filling level phenomena. These limitations could be circumvented by applying a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) approach, resting closer to the fundamental physical laws. The present contribution reports about the state of the art of such a fully three-dimensional multiphase-flow CFD approach, including cavitation and air entrainment for high-speed turbomachinery journal bearings. It has been developed and validated using experimental data. Due to the high ambient shear rates in bearings, the multiphase-flow model for journal bearings requires substantial modifications in comparison to common two-phase flow simulations. Based on experimental data, it is found, that particular cavitation phenomena are essential for the understanding of steam and heavy-duty-type gas turbine journal bearings.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102505-102505-7. doi:10.1115/1.4007113.

Automotive turbocharger components frequently experience complex thermomechanical fatigue (TMF) loadings which require estimation of nonlinear plastic stresses for fatigue life calculations. These field duty cycles often contain rapid fluctuations in temperatures and consequently transient effects become important. Although current finite element (FE) software are capable of performing these nonlinear finite element analyses, the turnaround time to compute nonlinear stresses for complex field duty cycles is still quite significant and detailed design optimizations for different duty cycles become very cumbersome. In recent years, a large number of studies have been made to develop analytical methods for estimating nonlinear stress from linear stresses. However, a majority of these consider isothermal cases which cannot be directly applied for thermomechanical loading. In this paper a detailed study is conducted with two different existing analytical approaches (Neuber’s rule and Hoffman-Seeger) to estimate the multiaxial nonlinear stresses from linear elastic stresses. For the Neuber’s approach, the multiaxial version proposed by Chu was used to correct elastic stresses from linear FE analyses. In the second approach, Hoffman and Seeger’s method is used to estimate the multiaxial stress state from plastic equivalent stress estimated using Neuber’s method for uniaxial stress. The novelty in the present work is the estimation of nonlinear stress for bilinear kinematic hardening material model under varying temperature conditions. The material properties including the modulus of elasticity, tangent modulus and the yield stress are assumed to vary with temperature. The application of two analytical approaches were examined for proportional and nonproportional TMF loadings and suggestions have been proposed to incorporate temperature dependent material behavior while correcting the plasticity effect into linear stress. This approach can be effectively used for complex geometries to calculate nonlinear stresses without carrying out a detailed nonlinear finite element analysis.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102506-102506-9. doi:10.1115/1.4007058.

Aircraft engine rotors are particularly sensitive to rotor imbalance and sudden maneuver loads, since they are always supported on rolling element bearings with little damping. Most engines incorporate squeeze film dampers (SFDs) as means to dissipate mechanical energy from rotor vibrations and to ensure system stability. The paper quantifies experimentally the forced performance of a SFD comprising two parallel film lands separated by a deep central groove. Tests are conducted on two open ends SFDs, both with diameter D = 127 mm and nominal radial clearance c = 0.127 mm. One damper has film lands with length L = 12.7 mm (short length), while the other has 25.4 mm land lengths. The central groove has width L and depth 3/4 L. A light viscosity lubricant flows into the central groove via three orifices, 120 deg apart and then through the film lands to finally exit to ambient. In operation, a static loader pulls the bearing to various eccentric positions and electromagnetic shakers excite the test system with periodic loads to generate whirl orbits of specific amplitudes. A frequency domain method identifies the SFD damping and inertia force coefficients. The long damper generates six times more damping and about three times more added mass than the short length damper. The damping coefficients are sensitive to the static eccentricity (up to ∼ 0.5 c), while showing lesser dependency on the amplitude of whirl motion (up to 0.2 c). On the other hand, inertia coefficients increase mildly with static eccentricity and decrease as the amplitude of whirl motion increases. Cross-coupled force coefficients are insignificant for all imposed operating conditions on either damper. Large dynamic pressures recorded in the central groove demonstrate the groove does not isolate the adjacent squeeze film lands, but contributes to the amplification of the film lands’ reaction forces. Predictions from a novel SFD model that includes flow interactions in the central groove and feed orifices agree well with the test force coefficients for both dampers. The test data and predictions advance current knowledge and demonstrate that SFD-forced performance is tied to the lubricant feed arrangement.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102507-102507-10. doi:10.1115/1.4007059.

Bearing systems in engine-oil lubricated turbochargers (TCs) must operate reliably over a wide range of shaft speeds and withstand severe axial and radial thermal gradients. An engineered thermal management of the energy flows into and out of the bearing system is paramount in order to ensure the component’s mechanical integrity and the robustness of the bearing system. The bearings, radial and thrust type, act both as a load bearing and low friction support with the lubricant carrying away a large fraction of the thermal energy generated by rotational drag and the heat flow disposed from a hot shaft. The paper introduces a thermohydrodynamic analysis for the prediction of the pressure and temperature fields in a (semi) floating ring bearing (S)FRB system. The analysis simultaneously solves the Reynolds equation with variable oil viscosity and the thermal energy transport equation in the inner and outer films of the bearing system. Flow conditions in both films are coupled to the temperature distribution and heat flow through the (semi) floating ring. Other constraints include calculating the fluid films’ forces reacting to the externally applied load and to determine the operating journal and ring eccentricities. The predictions of performance for a unique realistic (S)FRB configuration at typical TC operating conditions reveal a distinct knowledge: (a) the heat flow from the shaft into the inner film is overwhelming, in particular, at the inlet lubricant plane where the temperature difference with the cold oil is largest; (b) the inner film temperature quickly increases as soon as the (cold) lubricant enters the film and is due to the large amount of energy generated by shear drag and the heat transfer from the shaft; (c) a floating ring develops a significant radial temperature gradient; (d) at all shaft speeds, low and high, the thermal energy carried away by the lubricant streams is no less than 70% of the total energy input; the rest is conducted through the TC casing. To warrant this thermal energy distribution, enough lubricant flow must be supplied to the bearing system. The efficient computational model offers a distinct advantage over existing lumped parameters thermal models and there is no penalty in the execution time.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102508-102508-8. doi:10.1115/1.4007060.

This paper presents the transient aerothermal analysis of a gas turbine internal air system through an engine flight cycle featuring multiple fluid cavities that surround a HP turbine disk and the adjacent structures. Strongly coupled fluid-structure thermal interaction problems require significant computational effort to resolve nonlinearities on the interface for each time step. Simulation times may grow impractical if multiple fluid domains are included in the analysis. A new strategy is employed to decrease the cost of coupled aerothermal analysis. Significantly lower fluid domain solver invocation counts are demonstrated as opposed to the traditional coupling approach formulated on the estimates of heat transfer coefficient. Numerical results are presented using 2D finite element conduction model combined with 2D flow calculation in five separate cavities interconnected through the inlet and outlet boundaries. The coupled solutions are discussed and validated against a nominal stand-alone model. Relative performance of both coupling techniques is evaluated.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102509-102509-9. doi:10.1115/1.4007062.

The leakage rate of the labyrinth brush seal was experimentally measured and numerically investigated in this paper. Four different rotational speeds of 0, 1500, 2400 and 3000 rpm were utilized to investigate the effects on the leakage rate of the labyrinth brush seal. In addition, five different pressure ratios and two initial clearances were also adopted to study the influences of pressure ratio and clearance size on the leakage rate of the labyrinth brush seal. The leakage rates of the experimental labyrinth brush seal at different rotational speeds, pressure ratios, and initial clearances were also predicted using Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) solutions coupling with a non-Darcian porous medium model. The rotor centrifugal growth and bristle blow-down effects were considered in the present numerical research. The rotor centrifugal growth at different rotational speeds was calculated using the finite element method (FEM). The variation of the sealing clearance size with rotor centrifugal growth and bristle blow-down was analyzed. The numerical leakage rate was in good agreement with the experimental data. The effects of rotational speeds, pressure ratios, and clearance sizes on the leakage flow characteristics of brush seals were also investigated based on the experimental data and numerical results. The detailed leakage flow fields and pressure distributions of the brush seals were also presented.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102510-102510-11. doi:10.1115/1.4007063.

The numerical approach using the multifrequency one-dimensional whirling orbit model and Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) solution was proposed for prediction of rotordynamic coefficients of pocket damper seal (PDS). By conducting the multiple frequencies one-dimensional whirling orbit for rotor center as the excitation signal, the unsteady RANS solutions combined with mesh deformation method were utilized to calculate the transient response forces on the PDS rotor surface. Unlike the single frequency whirling orbit models which require a separate computation for each frequency, the multifrequency whirling orbit model yields results for multiple frequencies and therefore requires only one computation for different frequencies. The rotor motion signal and response force signal were transformed to the frequency domain using the fast fourier transform, then the eight rotordynamic coefficients of the PDS were determined at fourteen different vibration frequencies 20–300 Hz. The numerical results of rotordynamic coefficients of the PDS were in good agreement with experimental data. The accuracy and availability of the proposed method was demonstrated. The effects of vibration frequencies and pressure ratios on the rotordynamic coefficients of PDS were also investigated using the presented numerical method. The multifrequency one-dimensional whirling orbit model is a promising method for prediction of the rotordynamic coefficients of the PDS.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Gas Turbines: Structures and Dynamics

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102511-102511-12. doi:10.1115/1.4007067.

Gas foil bearings (GFBs) operating at high temperature rely on thermal management procedures that supply needed cooling flow streams to keep the bearing and rotor from overheating. Poor thermal management not only makes systems inefficient and costly to operate but could also cause bearing seizure and premature system destruction. This paper presents comprehensive measurements of bearing temperatures and shaft dynamics conducted on a hollow rotor supported on two first generation GFBs. The hollow rotor (1.36 kg, 36.51 mm OD and 17.9 mm ID) is heated from inside to reach an outer surface temperature of 120 °C. Experiments are conducted with rotor speeds to 30 krpm and with forced streams of air cooling the bearings and rotor. Air pressurization in an enclosure at the rotor mid span forces cooling air through the test GFBs. The cooling effect of the forced external flows is most distinct when the rotor is hottest and operating at the highest speed. The temperature drop per unit cooling flow rate significantly decreases as the cooling flow rate increases. Further measurements at thermal steady state conditions and at constant rotor speeds show that the cooling flows do not affect the amplitude and frequency contents of the rotor motions. Other tests while the rotor decelerates from 30 krpm to rest show that the test system (rigid-mode) critical speeds and modal damping ratio remain nearly invariant for operation with increasing rotor temperatures and with increasing cooling flow rates. Computational model predictions reproduce the test data with accuracy. The work adds to the body of knowledge on GFB performance and operation and provides empirically derived guidance for successful rotor-GFB system integration.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Gas Turbines: Vehicular and Small Turbomachines

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102701-102701-11. doi:10.1115/1.4007027.

In the present paper, an unsteady approach to determine the performance of a small radial inflow turbine working under cold pulsating flow is presented. It has been concluded that a reasonably good characterization of turbine behavior working with pulsating flow can be obtained using, in a quasi-steady way, models of the turbine isentropic efficiency and turbocharger mechanical efficiency. Both models have been fitted using data obtained from a steady flow characterization procedure. Turbocharger-measured parameters from the cold pulsating flow campaign have been compared with the ones obtained from one-dimensional gas dynamics computational modeling. The modeling approach is based on quasi-steady isentropic and mechanical efficiency models. Reasonably good accuracy in compressor and turbine variables prediction has been obtained for most of the operative conditions. Influence of amplitude and frequency of the pulsating flow over the instantaneous and average turbine efficiency has been studied to put some light on the analysis of the involved physical phenomena. The main conclusion is that the biggest effect of unsteady flow on turbine efficiency is through the influence on blade jet to speed ratio. It has been also concluded that, for the same average blade jet to speed ratio, pulses’ amplitude does not influence turbine efficiency when it is closed, but does at other variable geometry turbine (VGT) positions. The effect of pulses’ frequency is less evident and only influences VGT performance at the highest VGT openings.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Internal Combustion Engines

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2012;134(10):102801-102801-7. doi:10.1115/1.4007010.

Naturally occurring thermal stratification significantly impacts the characteristics of homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) combustion. The in-cylinder gas temperature distributions prior to combustion dictate the ignition phasing, burn rates, combustion efficiency, and unburned hydrocarbon and CO emissions associated with HCCI operation. Characterizing the gas temperature fields in an HCCI engine and correlating them to HCCI burn rates is a prerequisite for developing strategies to expand the HCCI operating range. To study the development of thermal stratification in more detail, a new analysis methodology for postprocessing experimental HCCI engine data is proposed. This analysis tool uses the autoignition integral in the context of the mass fraction burned curve to infer information about the distribution of temperature that exists in the cylinder prior to combustion. An assumption is made about the shape of the charge temperature profiles of the unburned gas during compression and after combustion starts elsewhere in the cylinder. Second, it is assumed that chemical reaction rates proceed very rapidly in comparison to the staggering of ignition phasing from thermal stratification. The autoignition integral is then coupled to the mass fraction burned curve to produce temperature-mass distributions that are representative of a particular combustion event. Due to the computational efficiency associated with this zero-dimensional calculation, a large number of zones can be simulated at very little computational expense. The temperature-mass distributions are then studied over a coolant temperature sweep. The results show that very small changes to compression heat transfer can shift the distribution of mass and temperature in the cylinder enough to significantly affect HCCI burn rates and emissions.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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