Research Papers: Gas Turbines: Combustion, Fuels, and Emissions

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):011501-011501-12. doi:10.1115/1.4037578.

A gas turbine combustion process subjected to high levels of centrifugal acceleration has demonstrated the potential for increased flame speeds and shorter residence times. Ultracompact combustors (UCC) invoke the high-g phenomenon by introducing air and fuel into a circumferential cavity which is recessed radially outboard with respect to the primary axial core flow. Upstream air is directed tangentially into the combustion cavity to induce bulk circumferential swirl. Swirl velocities in the cavity produce a centrifugal load on the flow that is typically expressed in terms of gravitational acceleration or g-loading. The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) has developed an experimental facility in which g-loads up to 2000 times the earth’s gravitational field (“2000 g’s”) have been demonstrated. In this study, the flow within the combustion cavity is examined to determine factors and conditions which invoke responses in cavity g-loads. The AFIT experiment was modified to enable optical access into the primary combustion cavity. The techniques of particle image velocimetry (PIV) and particle streak emission velocimetry (PSEV) provided high-fidelity measurements of the velocity fields within the cavity. The experimental data were compared to a set of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solutions. Improved cavity air and fuel injection schemes were evaluated over a range of air flows and equivalence ratios. Increased combustion stability was attained by providing a uniform distribution of cavity air drivers. Lean cavity equivalence ratios at a high total airflow resulted in higher g-loads and more complete combustion, thereby showing promise for utilization of the UCC as a main combustor.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):011502-011502-7. doi:10.1115/1.4037321.

The present work studies the effect of entropy dispersion on the level of combustion noise at the turbine outlet of the Rolls-Royce ANTLE aero-engine. A new model for the decay of entropy waves, based on modeling dispersion effects, is developed and utilized in a low-order network model of the combustor (i.e., LOTAN code that solves the unsteady Euler equations). The proposed model for the dispersion of entropy waves only requires the mean velocity field as an input, obtained by Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) computations of the demonstrator combustor. LOTAN is then coupled with a low-order model code (LINEARB) based on the semi-actuator disk model that studies propagation of combustion noise through turbine blades. Thus, by combining LOTAN and LINERAB, the combustion noise and its counterparts, direct and indirect noise, generated at the turbine exit are predicted. In comparison with experimental data, it is found that without the inclusion of entropy dispersion, the level of combustion noise at the turbine exit is overpredicted by almost 2 orders of magnitude. The introduction of entropy dispersion in LOTAN results in a much better agreement with the experimental data, highlighting the importance of entropy wave dispersion for the prediction of combustion noise in real engines. In more detail, the agreement with the experiment for high and low frequencies was very good. At intermediate frequencies, the experimental measurements are still overpredicted; however, the predicted noise is much smaller compared to the case without entropy dispersion. This discrepancy is attributed to (i) the role of turbulent mixing in the overall decay of the entropy fluctuations inside the combustor, not considered in the model developed for the decay of entropy waves, and (ii) the absence of a proper model in LINEARB for the decay of entropy waves as they pass through the turbine blade rows. These are areas that still need further development to improve the prediction of low-order network codes.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):011503-011503-8. doi:10.1115/1.4037724.

Sudden changes of flame shape are an undesired, yet poorly understood feature of swirl combustors used in gas turbines. The present work studies flame shape transition mechanisms of a bistable turbulent swirl flame in a gas turbine model combustor, which alternates intermittently between an attached V-form and a lifted M-form. Time-resolved velocity fields and two-dimensional flame structures were measured simultaneously using high-speed stereo-particle image velocimetry (PIV) and planar laser-induced fluorescence of OH (OH-PLIF) at 10 kHz. The data analysis is performed using two novel methods that are well adapted to the study of transient flame shape transitions: First, the linear stability analysis (LSA) of a time-varying mean flow and second, the recently proposed spectral proper orthogonal decomposition (SPOD). The results show that the transitions are governed by two types of instability, namely a hydrodynamic instability in the form of a precessing vortex core (PVC) and a thermoacoustic (TA) instability. The LSA shows that the V-M transition implies the transient formation of a PVC as the result of a self-amplification process. The V-M transition, on the other hand, is induced by the appearance of a TA instability that suppresses the PVC and thereby modifies the flowfield such that the flame re-attaches at the nozzle. In summary, these results provide novel insights into the complex interactions of TA and hydrodynamic instabilities that govern the shape of turbulent swirl-stabilized flames.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Gas Turbines: Controls, Diagnostics, and Instrumentation

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):011601-011601-10. doi:10.1115/1.4037640.

Aerodynamic probes are prevalent in turbomachinery research and gas turbine monitoring. Regrettably, this measurement technique experiences limitations not only in the transonic range but also in the high frequency range. Calibrated numerical tools offer an alternative procedure in the design of suitable instrumentation for turbine applications. First, two different probe geometries, oval and trapezoidal shapes, were characterized at different incidence angles. In particular, the pressure recovery, angle sensitivity, and induced vortex shedding unsteadiness at several yaw angles were evaluated. The studies were performed over a wide range of Mach numbers from subsonic to the transonic regime. The vortex shedding of the probe was also carefully analyzed. In a second evaluation, we selected the oval probe geometry including the line-cavity effects into the pressure tappings. The resonance frequency of line-cavity system was evaluated and compared with analytical calculations, as well as with the detailed analysis of Bergh and Tijdeman. The comparison of the pressure tapping readings with the actual input signal allowed the identification of the transfer functions, as well as the physical mechanisms that should be corrected during the measurements. Finally, three-dimensional (3D) unsteady evaluations were implemented to compute the blockage effects, as well as the final frequency attenuation experienced by the piezo-resistive sensors. All numerical analyses were performed using unsteady Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (URANS) models.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Gas Turbines: Cycle Innovations

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):011701-011701-9. doi:10.1115/1.4037665.

Direct supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycles are an efficient and potentially cost-effective method of capturing CO2 from fossil-fueled power plants. These cycles combust natural gas or syngas with oxygen in a high pressure (200–300 bar), heavily diluted sCO2 environment. The cycle thermal efficiency is significantly impacted by the proximity of the operating conditions to the CO2 critical point (31 °C, 73.7 bar) as well as to the level of working fluid dilution by minor components, thus it is crucial to correctly model the appropriate thermophysical properties of these sCO2 mixtures. These properties are also important for determining how water is removed from the cycle and for accurate modeling of the heat exchange within the recuperator. This paper presents a quantitative evaluation of ten different property methods that can be used for modeling direct sCO2 cycles in Aspen Plus®. Reference fluid thermodynamic and transport properties (REFPROP) is used as the de facto standard for analyzing high-purity indirect sCO2 systems, however, the addition of impurities due to the open nature of the direct sCO2 cycle introduces uncertainty to the REFPROP predictions as well as species that REFPROP cannot model. Consequently, a series of comparative analyses were performed to identify the best physical property method for use in Aspen Plus® for direct-fired sCO2 cycles. These property methods are assessed against several mixture property measurements and offer a relative comparison to the accuracy obtained with REFPROP. The Lee–Kessler–Plocker equation of state (EOS) is recommended if REFPROP cannot be used.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Gas Turbines: Electric Power

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):011801-011801-6. doi:10.1115/1.4037709.

A generic training simulator of a natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) was modified to match operations at a real plant. The objective was to use the simulator to analyze cycling operations of the plant. Initial operation of the simulator revealed the potential for saturation conditions in the final high pressure superheater (HPSH) as the attemperator tried to control temperature at the superheater outlet during gas turbine loading and unloading. Subsequent plant operational data confirmed simulation results. Multiple simulations were performed during loading and unloading of the gas turbine to determine operational strategies that prevented saturation and increased the approach to saturation temperature. The solutions included changes to the attemperator temperature control setpoints and strategic control of the steam turbine (ST) inlet pressure control valve.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Gas Turbines: Microturbines and Small Turbomachinery

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012301-012301-9. doi:10.1115/1.4037611.

The present work summarizes the design process of a new continuous closed-loop hot transonic linear cascade. The facility features fully modular design which is intended to serve as a test bench for axial microturbomachinery components in independently varying Mach and Reynolds numbers ranges of 0–1.3 and 2 × 104–6 × 105, respectively. Moreover, for preserving heat transfer characteristics of the hot gas section, the gas to solid temperature ratio (up to 2) is retained. This operational environment has not been sufficiently addressed in prior art, although it is critical for the future development of ultra-efficient high power or thrust devices. In order to alleviate the dimension specific challenges associated with microturbomachinery, the facility is designed in a highly versatile manner and can easily accommodate different geometric configurations (pitch, ±20 deg stagger angle, and ±20 deg incidence angle), absence of any alterations to the test section. Owing to the quick swap design, the vane geometry can be easily replaced without manufacturing or re-assembly of other components. Flow periodicity is achieved by the inlet boundary layer suction and independently adjustable tailboard mechanisms. Enabling test-aided design capability for microgas turbine manufacturers, aerothermal performance of various advanced geometries can be assessed in engine relevant environments.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Gas Turbines: Structures and Dynamics

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012501-012501-6. doi:10.1115/1.4037638.

Condition monitoring assesses the operational health of rotating machinery, in order to provide early and accurate warning of potential failures such that preventative maintenance actions may be taken. To achieve this target, manufacturers start taking on the responsibilities of engine condition monitoring, by embedding health-monitoring systems within each engine unit and prompting maintenance actions when necessary. Several types of condition monitoring are used including oil debris monitoring, temperature monitoring, and vibration monitoring. Among them, vibration monitoring is the most widely used technique. Machine vibro-acoustic signatures contain pivotal information about its state of health. The current work focuses on one part of the diagnosis stage of condition monitoring for engine bearing health monitoring as bearings are critical components in rotating machinery. A plethora of signal processing tools and methods applied at the time domain, the frequency domain, the time–frequency domain, and the time-scale domain have been presented in order to extract valuable information by proposing different diagnostic features. Among others, an emerging interest has been reported on modeling rotating machinery signals as cyclo-stationary, which is a particular class of nonstationary stochastic processes. The goal of this paper is to propose a novel approach for the analysis of cyclo-nonstationary signals based on the generalization of indicators of cyclo-stationarity (ICNS) in order to cover the speed-varying conditions. The effectiveness of the approach is evaluated on an acceleration signal captured on the casing of an aircraft engine gearbox, provided by SAFRAN.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012502-012502-11. doi:10.1115/1.4037585.

Gas turbine aircraft engine manufacturers push for simple squeeze film damper (SFD) designs, short in length, yet able to provide enough damping to ameliorate rotor vibrations. SFDs employ orifices to feed lubricant directly into the film land or into a deep groove. The holes, acting as pressure sources (or sinks), both disrupt the film land continuity and reduce the generation of squeeze film dynamic pressure. Overly simple predictive formulations disregard the feedholes and deliver damping (C) and inertia (M) force coefficients not in agreement with experimental findings. Presently, to bridge the gap between simple theory and practice, the paper presents measurements of the dynamic forced response of an idealized SFD that disposes of the feedholes altogether. The short-length SFD, whose diameter D = 127 mm, has one end submerged (flooded) within a lubricant bath and the other end exposed to ambient. ISO VG 2 lubricant flows by gravity through the film land of length L = 25.4 mm and clearance c = 0.122 mm. From dynamic load tests over excitation frequency range 10–250 Hz, experimental damping coefficients (CXX, CYY) from the flooded damper agree well with predictions from the classical open ends model with a full film for small amplitude whirl motions (r/c ≪ 1), centered and off-centered. Air ingestion inevitably occurs for large amplitude motions (r/c > 0.4), thus exacerbating the difference between predictions and tests results. For reference, identical tests were conducted with a practical SFD supplied with lubricant (Pin = 0.4 bar) via three orifice feedholes, 120 deg apart at the film land midplane. A comparison of test results shows as expected that, for small amplitude (r/c ∼ 0.05) orbits, the flooded damper generates on average 30% more damping than the practical configuration as the latter's feedholes distort the generation of pressure. For large amplitude motions (r/c > 0.4), however, the flooded damper provides slightly lesser damping and inertia coefficients than the SFD with feedholes whose pressurized lubricant delivery alleviates air ingestion in the film land. The often invoked open ends SFD classical model is not accurate for the practical engineered design of an apparently simple mechanical element.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012503-012503-11. doi:10.1115/1.4037588.

The potential of intentional mistuning to reduce the maximum forced response is analyzed within the development of an axial turbine blisk for ship diesel engine turbocharger applications. The basic idea of the approach is to provide an increased aerodynamic damping level for particular engine order (EO) excitations and mode shapes without any significant distortions of the aerodynamic performance. The mistuning pattern intended to yield a mitigation of the forced response is derived from an optimization study applying genetic algorithms. Two blisk prototypes have been manufactured a first one with and another one without employing intentional mistuning. Hence, the differences regarding the real mistuning and other modal properties can be experimentally determined and evaluated as well. In addition, the experimental data basis allows for updating structural models which are well suited to compute the forced response under operational conditions. In this way, the real benefit achieved with the application of intentional mistuning is demonstrated.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012504-012504-9. doi:10.1115/1.4037614.

In straight-through centrifugal pumps, a grooved seal acts as a balance piston to equilibrate the full pressure rise across the pump. As the groove pattern breaks the development of fluid swirl, this seal type offers lesser leakage and lower cross-coupled stiffnesses than a similar size and clearance annular seal. Bulk-flow models (BFMs) predict expediently the static and dynamic force characteristics of annular seals; however they lack accuracy for grooved seals. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methods give more accurate results, but are not computationally efficient. This paper presents a modified BFM to predict the rotordynamic force coefficients of shallow depth, circumferentially grooved liquid seals with an accuracy comparable to a CFD solution but with a simulation time of bulk-flow analyses. The procedure utilizes the results of CFD to evaluate the bulk flow velocity field and the friction factors for a 73 grooves annular seal (depth/clearance dg/Cr = 0.98 and length/diameter L/D = 0.9) operating under various sets of axial pressure drop and rotor speed. In a groove, the flow divides into a jet through the film land and a strong recirculation zone. The penetration angle (α), specifying the streamline separation in the groove cavity, is a function of the operating conditions; an increase in rotor speed or a lower pressure difference increases α. This angle plays a prominent role to evaluate the stator friction factor and has a marked influence on the seal direct stiffness. In the bulk-flow code, the friction factor model (f = nRem) is modified with the CFD extracted penetration angle (α) to account for the flow separation in the groove cavity. The flow rate predicted by the modified bulk-flow code shows good agreement with the measured result (6% difference). A perturbation of the flow field is performed on the bulk-flow equations to evaluate the reaction forces on the rotor surface. Compared to the rotordynamic force coefficients derived from the CFD results, the modified bulk-flow code predicts rotordynamic force coefficients within 10%, except that the cross-coupled damping coefficient is over-predicted up to 14%. An example test seal with a few grooves (L/D = 0.5, dg/Cr = 2.5) serves to further validate the predictions of the modified BFM. Compared to the original bulk-flow analysis, the current method shows a significant improvement in the predicted rotordynamic force coefficients, the direct stiffness and damping coefficients, in particular.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012505-012505-11. doi:10.1115/1.4037622.

Wet gas compression systems and multiphase pumps are enabling technologies for the deep sea oil and gas industry. This extreme environment determines both machine types have to handle mixtures with a gas in liquid volume fraction (GVF) varying over a wide range (0–1). The gas (or liquid) content affects the system pumping (or compression) efficiency and reliability, and places a penalty in leakage and rotordynamic performance in secondary flow components, namely seals. In 2015, tests were conducted with a short length smooth surface annular seal (L/D = 0.36, radial clearance = 0.127 mm) operating with an oil in air mixture whose liquid volume fraction (LVF) varied to 4%. The test results with a stationary journal show the dramatic effect of a few droplets of liquid on the production of large damping coefficients. This paper presents further measurements and predictions of leakage, drag power, and rotordynamic force coefficients conducted with the same test seal and a rotating journal. The seal is supplied with a mixture (air in ISO VG 10 oil), varying from a pure liquid to an inlet GVF = 0.9 (mostly gas), a typical range in multiphase pumps. For operation with a supply pressure (Ps) up to 3.5 bar(a), discharge pressure (Pa) = 1 bar(a), and various shaft speed (Ω) to 3.5 krpm (ΩR = 23.3 m/s), the flow is laminar with either a pure oil or a mixture. As the inlet GVF increases to 0.9 the mass flow rate and drag power decrease monotonically by 25% and 85% when compared to the pure liquid case, respectively. For operation with Ps = 2.5 bar(a) and Ω to 3.5 krpm, dynamic load tests with frequency 0 < ω < 110 Hz are conducted to procure rotordynamic force coefficients. A direct stiffness (K), an added mass (M), and a viscous damping coefficient (C) represent well the seal lubricated with a pure oil. For tests with a mixture (GVFmax = 0.9), the seal dynamic complex stiffness Re(H) increases with whirl frequency (ω); that is, Re(H) differs from (K−ω2M). Both the seal cross coupled stiffnesses (KXY and −KYX) and direct damping coefficients (CXX and CYY) decrease by approximately 75% as the inlet GVF increases to 0.9. The finding reveals that the frequency at which the effective damping coefficient (CXXeff = CXX − KXY/ω) changes from negative to positive (i.e., a crossover frequency) drops from 50% of the rotor speed (ω = 1/2 Ω) for a seal with pure oil to a lesser magnitude for operation with a mixture. Predictions for leakage and drag power based on a homogeneous bulk flow model match well the test data for operation with inlet GVF up to 0.9. Predicted force coefficients correlate well with the test data for mixtures with GVF up to 0.6. For a mixture with a larger GVF, the model under predicts the direct damping coefficients by as much as 40%. The tests also reveal the appearance of a self-excited seal motion with a low frequency; its amplitude and broad band frequency (centered at around ∼12 Hz) persist and increase as the gas content in the mixture increase. The test results show that an accurate quantification of wet seals dynamic force response is necessary for the design of robust subsea flow assurance systems.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012506-012506-8. doi:10.1115/1.4037667.

Air foil bearing (AFB) technology has made substantial advancement during the past decades and found its applications in various small turbomachinery. However, rotordynamic instability, friction and drag during the start/stop, and thermal management are still challenges for further application of the technology. Hybrid air foil bearing (HAFB), utilizing hydrostatic injection of externally pressurized air into the bearing clearance, is one of the technology advancements to the conventional AFB. Previous studies on HAFBs demonstrate the enhancement in the load capacity at low speeds, reduction or elimination of the friction and wear during starts/stops, and enhanced heat dissipation capability. In this paper, the benefit of the HAFB is further explored to enhance the rotordynamic stability by employing a controlled hydrostatic injection. This paper presents the analytical and experimental evaluation of the rotordynamic performance of a rotor supported by two three-pad HAFBs with the controlled hydrostatic injection, which utilizes the injections at particular locations to control eccentricity and attitude angle. The simulations in both time domain orbit simulations and frequency-domain modal analyses indicate a substantial improvement of the rotor-bearing performance. The simulation results were verified in a high-speed test rig (maximum speed of 70,000 rpm). Experimental results agree with simulations in suppressing the subsynchronous vibrations but with a large discrepancy in the magnitude of the subsynchronous vibrations, which is a result of the limitation of the current modeling approach. However, both simulations and experiments clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of the controlled hydrostatic injection on improving the rotordynamic performance of AFB.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012507-012507-12. doi:10.1115/1.4037624.

Foil bearings (FB) are one type of hydrodynamic air/gas bearings but with a compliant bearing surface supported by structural material that provides stiffness and damping to the bearing. The hybrid foil bearing (HFB) in this paper is a combination of a traditional hydrodynamic foil bearing with externally pressurized air/gas supply system to enhance load capacity during the start and to improve thermal stability of the bearing. The HFB is more suitable for relatively large and heavy rotors where rotor weight is comparable to the load capacity of the bearing at full speed and extra air/gas supply system is not a major added cost. With 4448–22,240 N thrust class turbine aircraft engines in mind, the test rotor is supported by HFB in one end and duplex rolling element bearings (REB) in the other end. This paper presents experimental work on HFB with diameter of 102 mm performed at the U.S. Air force Research Laboratory (AFRL). Experimental works include: measurement of impulse response of the bearing to the external load corresponding to rotor's lateral acceleration of 5.55 g, forced response to external subsynchronous excitation, and high-speed imbalance response. A nonlinear rotordynamic simulation model was also applied to predict the impulse response and forced subsynchronous response. The simulation results agree well with the experimental results. Based on the experimental results and subsequent simulations, an improved HFB design is also suggested for higher impulse load capability up to 10 g and rotordynamics stability up to 30,000 rpm under subsynchronous excitation.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012508-012508-12. doi:10.1115/1.4037708.

For the analysis of essentially nonlinear vibrations, it is very important not only to determine whether the considered vibration regime is stable or unstable but also which design parameters need to be changed to make the desired stability regime and how sensitive is the stability of a chosen design of a gas-turbine structure to variation of the design parameters. In the proposed paper, an efficient method is proposed for a first time for sensitivity analysis of stability for nonlinear periodic forced response vibrations using large-scale models structures with friction, gaps, and other types of nonlinear contact interfaces. The method allows using large-scale finite element (FE) models for structural components together with detailed description of nonlinear interactions at contact interfaces. The highly accurate reduced models are applied in the assessment of the sensitivity of stability of periodic regimes. The stability sensitivity analysis is performed in frequency domain with the multiharmonic representation of the nonlinear forced response amplitudes. Efficiency of the developed approach is demonstrated on a set of test cases including simple models and large-scale realistic blade model with different types of nonlinearities, including friction, gaps, and cubic elastic nonlinearity.

Topics: Stability
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Gas Turbines: Turbomachinery

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012601-012601-8. doi:10.1115/1.4037662.

Centrifugal compressor impellers and shafts are subject to severe fluctuating axial and radial forces when operating in surge. These forces can cause severe damage to the close clearance components of a centrifugal compressor such as the thrust and radial bearings, interstage and dry gas seals, and balance piston. Being able to accurately quantify the cyclic surge forces on the close clearance components of the compressor allows the user to determine whether an accidental surge event, or emergency shutdown (ESD) transient, has caused damage requiring inspection, repair, or part replacement. For the test, a 700 hp (∼520 kW) industrial air centrifugal compressor was operated in surge at speeds ranging from 7000 to 13,000 rpm and pressure ratios from 1.2 to 1.8. The axial surge forces were directly measured using axial load cells on the thrust bearings. Suction and discharge pressures, proximity probe axial shaft position, flows, and temperatures were also measured. Time domain and frequency plots of axial vibration and dynamic pulsations showed the impact of the operating conditions on surge force amplitudes and frequencies. A surge severity coefficient was also derived as a simple screening tool to evaluate the magnitude of potential damage to a compressor during surge.

Topics: Compressors , Surges , Damage
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012602-012602-13. doi:10.1115/1.4037663.

The force acting on centrifugal compressors is an important parameter to be considered throughout the operating life of these turbomachines. When the compressor is operating in surge conditions, these forces can become highly dangerous for the mechanical and aerodynamic structures. This instability is usually avoided in industrial applications, but the antisurge system may not react in time when emergency shutdowns or power failures take place. During these rapid transients, surge can develop, generating unsteady forces which can harm the close clearance components of the compressor. Therefore, the capability to predict the characteristics and the dynamics of these surge forces would allow the estimation of the off-design fatigue cycles produced on these components by surge. Currently, no validated method exists to predict the frequency and amplitude of the surge forces and determine the potential damage of these components. In this paper, a lumped parameter model, developed by using the bond graph approach to predict the dynamic surge fluid-dynamic oscillations, is presented. The model requires the geometry and the steady-state performance maps of the compressor as inputs, together with the piping system configuration characteristics. The simulator is provided with a supplementary tool to estimate the axial force frequency and amplitude, taking into consideration all the contributions to the axial fluid-dynamic thrust, the stiffness-damping of the thrust bearing, and the mass of the rotor. The model was tuned and validated using the test case axial force data from the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) facility. The model has shown good agreement with the experimental results which implies that it can offer significant information about the severity of a surge event and the quantification of the machine performance losses together with possible damage to the close clearance components. This study is a first important step that can lead to schedule optimization for maintenance and repair activities.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012603-012603-8. doi:10.1115/1.4037664.

Liberalized electricity market conditions and concentrating solar power technologies call for increased power plant operational flexibility. Concerning the steam turbine (ST) component, one key aspect of its flexibility is the capability for fast starts. In current practice, turbine start-up limitations are set by consideration of thermal stress and low cycle fatigue. However, the pursuit of faster starts raises the question whether other thermal phenomena can become a limiting factor to the start-up process. Differential expansion (DE) is one of such thermal properties, especially since the design of axial clearances is not included as part of start-up schedule design and because its measurement during operation is often limited or not a possibility at all. The aim of this work is to understand DE behavior with respect to transient operation and to quantify the effect that such operation would have in the design and operation of axial clearances. This was accomplished through the use of a validated thermomechanical model that was used to compare DE behavior for different operating conditions of the machine. These comparisons showed that faster starts do not necessarily imply that wider axial clearances are needed, which means that the thermal flexibility of the studied turbine is not limited by DE. However, for particular locations, it was also obtained that axial rubbing can indeed become a limiting factor in direct relation to start-up operation. The resulting approach presented in this work serves to avoid over-conservative limitations in both design and operation concerning axial clearances.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012604-012604-8. doi:10.1115/1.4037689.

Erosive damage done to jet engine compressor blading by solid particles has a negative influence on the compressor aerodynamic properties and hence decreases performance. The erosive change of shape has been investigated in a multitude of experiments ranging from eroding flat plates to eroding full engines. The basic challenge to transfer the results from very simple tests to real life erosion remains. Up to date measurement techniques today allow closing this gap. The necessary experimental and analytical steps are shown. The erosion resistance of Ti–6Al–4V at realistic flow conditions with fluid velocities ranging from 200 to 400 m/s is used. The erodent used was quartz sand with a size distribution corresponding to standardized Arizona Test Dust A3 (1–120 μm). Flat plates out of Ti–6Al–4V were eroded at different impingement angles. The particle velocities and sizes were investigated using a high-speed laser shadowgraphy technique. A dimensional analysis was carried out to obtain nondimensional parameters suitable for describing erosion. Different averaging methods of the particle velocity were examined in order to identify a representative particle velocity. Compared to the fluid velocity and the mean particle velocity, the energy averaged particle velocity is found to be the best representation of the erosiveness of a particle stream. The correlations derived from the dimensional analysis are capable of precisely predicting erosion rates for different rig operating points (OPs). The results can be applied to the methodology published by Schrade et al. (2015, “Experimental and Numerical Investigation of Erosive Change of Shape for High-Pressure Compressors,” ASME Paper No. GT2015-42061).

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):012605-012605-10. doi:10.1115/1.4037721.

Turbine flexible operations with faster startups/shutdowns are required to accommodate emerging renewable power generations. A major challenge in transient thermal design and analysis is the time scale disparity. For natural cooling, the physical process is typically in hours, but on the other hand, the time-step sizes typically usable tend to be very small (subseconds) due to the numerical stability requirement for natural convection as often observed. An issue of interest is: What time-step sizes can and should be used in terms of stability as well as accuracy? In this work, the impact of flow temporal gradient and its modeling is examined in relation to numerical stability and modeling accuracy for transient natural convection. A source term-based dual-timing formulation is adopted, which is shown to be numerically stable for very large time-steps. Furthermore, a loosely coupled procedure is developed to combine this enhanced flow solver with a solid conduction solver for solving unsteady conjugate heat transfer (CHT) problems for transient natural convection. This allows very large computational time-steps to be used without any stability issues, and thus enables to assess the impact of using different time-step sizes entirely in terms of a temporal accuracy requirement. Computational case studies demonstrate that the present method can be run stably with a markedly shortened computational time compared to the baseline solver. The method is also shown to be more accurate than the commonly adopted quasi-steady flow model when unsteady effects are non-negligible.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Power Engineering

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2017;140(1):013001-013001-12. doi:10.1115/1.4037639.

The modularity and high efficiency at small-scale make high temperature (HT) fuel cells an interesting solution for carbon capture and utilization at the distributed generation (DG) scale when coupled to appropriate use of CO2 (i.e., for industrial uses, local production of chemicals, etc.). The present work explores fully electrochemical power systems capable of producing a highly pure CO2 stream and hydrogen. In particular, the proposed system is based upon integrating a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) with a molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC). The use of these HT fuel cells has already been separately applied in the past for carbon capture and storage (CCS) applications. However, their combined use is yet unexplored. The reference configuration proposed envisions the direct supply of the SOFC anode outlet to a burner which, using the cathode depleted air outlet, completes the oxidation of the unconverted species. The outlet of the burner is then fed to the MCFC cathode inlet, which separates the CO2 from the stream. This layout has the significant advantage of achieving the required CO2 purity for liquefaction and long-range transportation without requiring the need of cryogenic or distillation plants. Furthermore, different configurations are considered with the final aim of increasing the carbon capture ratio (CCR) and maximizing the electrical efficiency. Moreover, the optimal power ratio between SOFC and MCFC stacks is also explored. Complete simulation results are presented, discussing the proposed plant mass and energy balances and showing the most attractive configurations from the point of view of total efficiency and CCR.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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