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Research Papers

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021001-021001-10. doi:10.1115/1.4040869.

The impact of geometry variations on integrally bladed disk eigenvalues is investigated. A large population of industrial bladed disks (blisks) are scanned via a structured light optical scanner to provide as-measured geometries in the form of point-cloud data. The point cloud data are transformed using principal component (PC) analysis that results in a Pareto of PCs. The PCs are used as inputs to predict the variation in a blisk's eigenvalues due to geometry variations from nominal when all blades have the same deviations. A large subset of the PCs is retained to represent the geometry variation, which proves challenging in probabilistic analyses because of the curse of dimensionality. To overcome this, the dimensionality of the problem is reduced by computing an active subspace that describes critical directions in the PC input space. Active variables in this subspace are then fit with a surrogate model of a blisk's eigenvalues. This surrogate can be sampled efficiently with the large subset of PCs retained in the active subspace formulation to yield a predicted distribution in eigenvalues. The ability of building an active subspace mapping PC coefficient to eigenvalues is demonstrated. Results indicate that exploitation of the active subspace is capable of capturing eigenvalue variation.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021002-021002-10. doi:10.1115/1.4040768.

In this theoretical and numerical analysis, a low-order network model is used to investigate a thermoacoustic system with discrete rotational symmetry. Its geometry resembles that of the MICCA combustor (Laboratoire EM2C, CentraleSupelec); the flame describing function (FDF) employed in the analysis is that of a single-burner configuration and is taken from experimental data reported in the literature. We show how most of the dynamical features observed in the MICCA experiment, including the so-called slanted mode, can be predicted within this framework, when the interaction between a longitudinal and an azimuthal thermoacoustic mode is considered. We show how these solutions relate to the symmetries contained in the equations that model the system. We also discuss how considering situations in which two modes are linearly unstable compromises the applicability of stability criteria available in the literature.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021003-021003-7. doi:10.1115/1.4040863.

Recent studies showed that a prompt detection of the stall inception, connected with a specific model to predict its associated aerodynamic force, could provide room for an extension of the left margin of the operating curve of high-pressure centrifugal compressors. In industrial machines working in the field, however, robust procedures to detect and identify the phenomenon are still missing, i.e., the operating curve is almost ever cut preliminarily by the manufacturer by a proper safety margin; moreover, no agreement is found in the literature about a well-defined threshold to define the onset of the stall. In particular, in some cases, the intensity of the arising subsynchronous frequency is compared to the revolution frequency, while in many other ones it is compared to the blade passage frequency. A large experience in experimental stall analyses collected by the authors revealed that in some cases unexpected spikes could make this direct comparison not reliable for a robust automatic detection. To this end, a new criterion was developed based on an integral analysis of the area subtended to the entire subsynchronous spectrum of the dynamic pressure signal of probes positioned just outside the impeller exit. A dimensionless parameter was then defined to account for the spectrum area increase in proximity to stall inception. This new parameter enabled the definition of a reference threshold to highlight the arising of stall conditions, whose validity and increased robustness was here verified based on a set of experimental analyses of different types of full-stage test cases of industrial centrifugal compressors at the test rig.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021004-021004-11. doi:10.1115/1.4040864.

In centrifugal compressor design, the volute plays a key role in defining the overall efficiency and operating range of the stage. The flow at the impeller outlet is indeed characterized by a high kinetic energy content, which is first converted to potential energy in the diffuser downstream. The compressed gas is then collected by the volute at the cylindrical outlet section of the diffuser and directed to the intake piping, possibly with a further pressure recovery to enhance the stage performance. Due to the high flow speed at the volute inlet, the capability of ensuring the lowest amount of total pressure loss is pivotal to prevent a detriment of the machine efficiency. Moreover, the flow conditions change when the volute operates far from its design point: at mass flow rates lower than the design one, the flow becomes diffusive, while at higher mass flow rates the fluid is accelerated, thus leading to different loss-generation mechanisms. These phenomena are particularly relevant in turbocharger applications, where the compressor needs to cover a wide functioning range; moreover, in these applications, the definition of the volute shape is often driven also by space limitations imposed by the vehicle layout, leading to a variety of volute types. The present paper reports an analysis on the sources of thermodynamic irreversibilities occurring inside different volutes applied to a centrifugal compressor for turbocharging applications. Three demonstrative geometrical configurations are analyzed by means of three-dimensional (3D) numerical simulations using common boundary conditions to assess the overall volute performance and different loss mechanisms, which are evaluated in terms of the local entropy generation rate. The modification of the loss mechanisms in off-design conditions is also accounted for by investigating different mass flow rates. It is finally shown that the use of the entropy generation rate for the assessment of the irreversibilities is helpful to understand and localize the sources of loss in relation to the various flow structures.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021005-021005-9. doi:10.1115/1.4040901.

Recent advances in practical engineering methods for fracture analysis of turbomachinery components are described. A comprehensive set of weight function (WF) stress intensity factor (SIF) solutions for elliptical and straight cracks under univariant and bivariant stress gradients has been developed and verified. Specialized SIF solutions have been derived for curved through cracks, cracks at chamfered and angled corners, and cracks under displacement control. Automated fracture models are available to construct fatigue crack growth (FCG) life contours and critical initial crack size (CICS) contours for all nodal locations in two-dimensional or three-dimensional (2D or 3D) finite element (FE) models.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021006-021006-10. doi:10.1115/1.4040814.

A novel dry low-NOx gas turbine technology requires well-balanced assessments since the early development phases. The weak knowledge of often conflicting aspects, such as operability and manufacturability, make any roadmap difficult to be drawn. Introduction of innovative manufacturing technologies such as the direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) process allows rapid manufacturing of components and test them in dedicated facilities to support real-time development of new products. The use of such a manufacturing process allows the adoption of designed experiment-based development strategies, which are still uncommon at industrial level, due to the reduced time from drawings to test.The paper describes a reactive test campaign performed by BHGE in cooperation with University of Florence, aimed at the exploration of capabilities of different innovative burners in terms of pollutant emissions containment and blow-out margin. In particular, the test campaign has been conceived to provide a robust estimate of the effects of key geometrical parameters on principal burner performances. The flame stabilization mechanism of the investigated burners is based on the swirling flow generated by different setup of two internal channels: corotating and counter-rotating radial and axial swirlers. The effect of both the shape and the size of the internal air passages, as well as of the swirler characteristics, has been matter of investigation. Burners were tested in a single-cup test rig operated at moderate pressure conditions (up to 6 bar), with two levels of preheated air temperature (300 °C and 400 °C). Each burner was equipped with two natural gas feeding lines representing the diffusion (pilot) and premixed (main) fuel supplies: both lines were regulated during tests to assess the effect of fuel split on emissions and to identify a stable low-NOx operating window, within which a lean blow-out test was performed. Dynamic pressure probes were used to evaluate the onset of combustion instabilities. The burner development was supported by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) investigations with the purpose to have a detailed understating of the flow-field and flame structure and to perform a preliminary screening to select the most promising solutions for the testing phase. The post process of the experimental results has allowed to correlate the main design parameters to burner performance variables discovering possible twofold optimizations in terms of emissions and operability.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021007-021007-10. doi:10.1115/1.4040856.

Resonant response of turbomachinery blades can lead to high cycle fatigue (HCF) if the vibration amplitudes are excessive. Accurate and reliable simulations of the forced response phenomenon require detailed CFD and FE models that may consume immense computational costs. In the present study, an alternative approach is applied, which incorporates nonlinear harmonic (NLH) CFD simulations in a one-way fluid–structure interaction (FSI) workflow for the prediction of the forced response phenomenon at reduced computational costs. Five resonance crossings excited by the stator in a radial inflow turbocharger turbine are investigated and the aerodynamic excitation and damping are predicted using this approach. Blade vibration amplitudes are obtained from a subsequent forced response analysis combining the aerodynamic excitation with aerodynamic damping and a detailed structural model of the investigated turbine rotor. A comparison with tip timing measurement data shows that all predicted values lay within the range of the mistuned blade response underlining the high quality of the utilized workflow.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021008-021008-11. doi:10.1115/1.4040766.

Subsea pumps and compressors must withstand multiphase flows whose gas volume fraction (GVF) or liquid volume fraction (LVF) varies over a wide range. Gas or liquid content as a dispersed phase in the primary stream affects the leakage, drag torque, and dynamic forced performance of secondary flow components, namely seals, thus affecting the process efficiency and mechanical reliability of pumping/compressing systems, in particular during transient events with sudden changes in gas (or liquid) content. This paper, complementing a parallel experimental program, presents a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis to predict the leakage, drag power, and dynamic force coefficients of a smooth surface, uniform clearance annular seal supplied with air in oil mixture whose inlet GVF varies discretely from 0.0 to 0.9, i.e., from a pure liquid stream to a nearly all-gas content mixture. The test seal has uniform radial clearance Cr = 0.203 mm, diameter D = 127 mm, and length L = 0.36 D. The tests were conducted with an inlet pressure/exit pressure ratio equal to 2.5 and a rotor surface speed of 23.3 m/s (3.5 krpm), similar to conditions in a pump neck wear ring seal. The CFD two-phase flow model, first to be anchored to test data, uses an Euler–Euler formulation and delivers information on the precise evolution of the GVF and the gas and liquid streams' velocity fields. Recreating the test data, the CFD seal mass leakage and drag power decrease steadily as the GVF increases. A multiple-frequency shaft whirl orbit method aids in the calculation of seal reaction force components, and from which dynamic force coefficients, frequency-dependent, follow. For operation with a pure liquid, the CFD results and test data produce a constant cross-coupled stiffness, damping, and added mass coefficients, while also verifying predictive formulas typical of a laminar flow. The injection of air in the oil stream, small or large in gas volume, immediately produces force coefficients that are frequency-dependent; in particular the direct dynamic stiffness which hardens with excitation frequency. The effect is most remarkable for small GVFs, as low as 0.2. The seal test direct damping and cross-coupled dynamic stiffness continuously drop with an increase in GVF. CFD predictions, along with results from a bulk-flow model (BFM), reproduce the test force coefficients with great fidelity. Incidentally, early engineering practice points out to air injection as a remedy to cure persistent (self-excited) vibration problems in vertical pumps, submersible and large size hydraulic. Presently, the model predictions, supported by the test data, demonstrate that even a small content of gas in the liquid stream significantly raises the seal direct stiffness, thus displacing the system critical speed away to safety. The sound speed of a gas in liquid mixture is a small fraction of those speeds for either the pure oil or the gas, hence amplifying the fluid compressibility that produces the stiffness hardening. The CFD model and a dedicated test rig, predictions and test data complementing each other, enable engineered seals for extreme applications.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021012-021012-9. doi:10.1115/1.4040907.

This paper discusses the impact of inlet flow distortions on centrifugal compressors based upon a large experimental data base in which the performance of several impellers in a range of corrected flows and corrected speeds have been measured after been coupled with different inlet plenums technologies. The analysis extends to centrifugal compressor inlets including a side stream, typical of liquefied natural gas applications. The detailed measurements allow a thorough characterization of the flow field and associated performance. The results suggest that distortions can alter the head by as much as 3% and efficiency of around 1%. A theoretical analysis allowed to identify the design features that are responsible for this deviation. In particular, an extension of the so-called “reduced-frequency,” a coefficient routinely used in axial compressors and turbine aerodynamics to weigh the unsteadiness generated by upstream to downstream blade rows, allowed to determine a plenum-to-impeller reduced frequency that correlates very well with the measured performance. The theory behind the new coefficient is discussed together with the measurement details and validates the correlation that can be used in the design phase to determine the best compromise between the inlet plenum complexity and impact on the first stage.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021013-021013-9. doi:10.1115/1.4041023.

Gas property prediction is necessary for proper design of compressors. Equations of state are utilized to predict the thermo-physical gas properties needed for such calculations. These are semi-empirical models that allow the calculation of thermodynamic properties such as density, enthalpy, and speed of sound of gas mixtures for known pressures and temperature. Currently, there is limited or no data publically available to verify the results of these equation of state calculations for the range of pressures, temperatures, and gas compositions relevant to many oil and gas applications. Especially for isentropic enthalpy head (i.e., the enthalpy rise along constant entropy lines), which is a critical parameter required to accurately design and performance test compressors, limited public domain data are available for equation of state validation. In this paper, a method and test apparatus is described to measure compression enthalpy rise directly. In this apparatus, a test gas is compressed using a fast acting piston inside an adiabatic autoclave. Test results are then corrected using calibration efficiencies from a known reference gas compression process at a similar Reynolds number. The paper describes the test apparatus, calibration, measurement methodology, and test results for one complex hydrocarbon gas composition at elevated temperatures and pressures. An uncertainty analysis of the new measurement method is also presented and results are compared to several equations of state. The results show that commonly used equations of state significantly underpredicted the compression enthalpy rise for the test gas case by more than 6%.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021014-021014-10. doi:10.1115/1.4041386.

The control valve is an essential component of electronic unit pump (EUP) fuel injection systems; it controls the flow rate with high-precision electrical signals. Thus, high precision and flexibility are required in the working process of a fuel injection system. The flow capacity (indicated by mass flow rate) of a control valve is an important technical indicator in the discharge of EUP fuel injection systems. In this study, the transient flow characteristics within control valve during the discharge of an EUP were evaluated using a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) approach. Three essential structural parameters of EUP control valve were investigated, and their effects on circulation characteristics were evaluated. The variation trends were observed, and the changes in significant physical parameters and crucial physical field distributions were analyzed. During the investigation, the visualization of internal flow of control valve provided more detailed information of flow fields. This study shows the effect of each parameter on flow characteristics and indicates that cavitation is the lowest for the case of 0.20 mm valve core lift; the length of slit is the shortest for the case of 7 mm seal diameter, therefore, the mass flow rate of export is the highest; at 139 deg seal cone angles, fuel velocity is the highest, therefore, 139 deg is the best seal cone angle.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021015-021015-9. doi:10.1115/1.4041152.

In this paper, a method to influence the vibratory blade stresses of mixed flow turbocharger turbine blade by varying the local blade thickness in spanwise direction is presented. Such variations have an influence on both the static and the vibratory stresses and therefore can be used for optimizing components with respect to high-cycle fatigue (HCF) tolerance. Two typical cyclic loadings that are of concern to turbocharger manufacturers have been taken into account. These loadings arise from the centrifugal forces and from blade vibrations. The objective of optimization in this study is to minimize combined effects of centrifugal and vibratory stresses on turbine blade HCF and moment of inertia. Here, the conventional turbine blade design with trapezoidal thickness profile is taken as baseline design. The thicknesses are varied at four spanwise equally spaced planes and three streamwise planes to observe their effects on static and vibratory stresses. The summation of both the stresses is referred to as combined stress. In order to ensure comparability among the studied design variants, a generic and constant excitation order-dependent pressure field is used at a specific location on blade. The results show that the locations of static and vibratory stresses, and hence the magnitude of the combined stresses, can be influenced by varying the blade thicknesses while maintaining the same eigenfrequencies. By shifting the maximum vibratory stresses farther away from the maximum static stresses, the combined stresses can be reduced considerably, which leads to improved HCF tolerance.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021016-021016-11. doi:10.1115/1.4041080.

Interaction between coherent flow oscillations and the premixed flame sheet in combustors can result in coherent unsteadiness in the global heat release response. These coherent flow oscillations can either be self-excited (e.g., the precessing vortex core) or result from the hydrodynamic response of the flow field to acoustic forcing. Recent work has focused on understanding the various instability modes and fundamental mechanisms that control hydrodynamic instability in single nozzle swirl flows. However, the effect of multiple closely spaced nozzles as well as the nonaxisymmetric nature of the confinement imposed by the combustor liner on swirl nozzle flows remains as yet unexplored. We study the influence of internozzle spacing and nonaxisymmetric confinement on the local temporal and spatiotemporal stability characteristics of multinozzle flows in this paper. The base flow model for the multinozzle case is constructed by superposing contributions from a base flow model for each individual nozzle. The influence of the flame is captured by specifying a spatially varying base flow density field. The nonaxisymmetric local stability problem is posed in terms of a parallel base flow with spatial variations in the two directions perpendicular to the streamwise direction. We investigate the case of a single nozzle and three nozzles arranged in a straight line within a rectangular combustor. The results show that geometric confinement imposed by the combustor walls has a quantitative impact on the eigenvalues of the hydrodynamic modes. Decreasing nozzle spacing for a given geometric confinement configuration makes the flow more unstable. The presence of an inner shear layer (ISL) stabilized flame results in an overall stabilization of the flow instability. We also discuss qualitatively, the underlying vorticity dynamics mechanisms that influence the characteristics of instability modes in triple nozzle flows.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021017-021017-8. doi:10.1115/1.4041128.

Rotor-dynamic fluid force (RD fluid force) of turbomachinery is one of the causes of the shaft vibration problem. Bulk flow theory is the method for analyzing this RD fluid force, and it has been widely used in the design stage of machine. The conventional bulk flow theory has been carried out under the assumption of concentric circular shaft's orbit with a small amplitude. However, actual rotating machinery's operating condition often does not hold this assumption, for example, existence of static load on the machinery causes static eccentricity. In particular, when such a static eccentricity is significant, the nonlinearity of RD fluid force may increase and become non-negligible. Therefore, conventional bulk flow theory is not applicable for the analysis of the RD fluid force in such a situation. In this paper, the RD fluid force of the annular plain seal in the case of circular whirling orbit with static eccentricity is investigated. The case with both the significant static eccentricity and the moderate whirling amplitude is considered, and the perturbation analysis of the bulk-flow theory is extended to investigate the RD fluid force in such cases. In this analysis, the assumption of the perturbation solution is extended to both static terms and whirling terms up to the third order. Then, the additional terms are caused by the coupling of these terms through nonlinearity, and these three kinds of terms are considered in the extended perturbation analysis of the bulk flow theory. As a result, a set of nonlinear analytical equations of the extended perturbation analysis of the bulk flow theory, for the case with both the significant static eccentricity and the moderate whirling amplitude, is deduced. The RD fluid force for such cases is analyzed, and the occurrence of constant component, backward synchronous component, and super-harmonic components in the RD fluid force is observed in addition to the forward synchronous component. The representation of RD fluid force coefficients (RD coefficients) are modified for the case with significant static eccentricity, and the variation of RD fluid force coefficients for the magnitude of static eccentricity is analyzed. These analytical results of RD fluid force and its RD coefficients are compared with the numerical results using finite difference analysis and experimental results. As a result, the validity of the extended perturbation analysis of the bulk-flow theory for the case with both the significant static eccentricity and the moderate whirling amplitude is confirmed.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021018-021018-9. doi:10.1115/1.4041151.

Lean premix technology is widely spread in gas turbine combustion systems, allowing modern power plants to fulfill very stringent emission targets. These systems are, however, also prone to thermoacoustic instabilities, which can limit the engine operating window. The thermoacoustic analysis of a combustor is thus a key element in its development process. An important ingredient of this analysis is the characterization of the flame response to acoustic fluctuations, which is straightforward for lean-premixed flames that are propagation stabilized, since it can be measured atmospherically. Ansaldo Energia's GT26 and GT36 reheat combustion systems feature a unique technology where fuel is injected into a hot gas stream from a first combustor, which is propagation stabilized, and auto-ignites in a sequential combustion chamber. The present study deals with the flame response of mainly auto-ignition stabilized flames to acoustic and temperature fluctuations for which a computational fluid dynamics system identification (SI) approach is chosen. The current paper builds on recent works, which detail and validate a methodology to analyze the dynamic response of an auto-ignition flame to extract the flame transfer function (FTF) using unsteady large-Eddy simulations (LES). In these studies, the flame is assumed to behave as a single-input single-output (SISO) or a multi-input single-output (MISO) system. The analysis conducted in GT2015-42622 qualitatively highlights the important role of temperature and equivalence ratio fluctuations, but these effects are not separated from velocity fluctuations. Hence, this topic is addressed in GT2016-57699, where the flame is treated as a multiparameter system and compressible LES are conducted to extract the frequency-dependent FTF to describe the effects of axial velocity, temperature, equivalence ratio, and pressure fluctuations on the flame response. For lean-premixed flames, a common approach followed in the literature assumes that the acoustic pressure is constant across the flame and that the flame dynamics are governed by the response to velocity perturbations only, i.e., the FTF. However, this is not necessarily the case for reheat flames that are mainly auto-ignition stabilized. Therefore, in this paper, we present the full 2 × 2 transfer matrix of a predominantly auto-ignition stabilized flame, and hence, describe the flame as a multi-input multi-output (MIMO) system. In addition to this, it is highlighted that in the presence of temperature fluctuations, the 2 × 2 matrix can be extended to a 3 × 3 matrix relating the primitive acoustic variables as well as the temperature fluctuations across the flame. It is shown that only taking the FTF is insufficient to fully describe the dynamic behavior of reheat flames.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021019-021019-9. doi:10.1115/1.4041160.

Since the first nonlinear forced response validation of frictionally coupled bladed disks, more than 20 years have passed, and numerous incremental modeling and simulation refinements were proposed. With the present work, we intend to assess how much we have improved since then. To this end, we present findings of an exhaustive validation campaign designed to systematically validate the nonlinear vibration prediction for the different friction joints at blade roots, interlocked shrouds and under-platform dampers. An original approach for the identification of crucial contact properties is developed. By using the dynamic Lagrangian contact formulation and a refined spatial contact discretization, it is demonstrated that the delicate identification of contact stiffness properties can be circumvented. The friction coefficient is measured in a separate test, and determined as unique function of temperature, preload, wear state. Rotating rig and engine measurements are compared against simulations with the tool OrAgL, developed jointly by the Leibniz Universität Hannover and the University of Stuttgart, in which state-of-the-art component mode synthesis (CMS) and harmonic balance methods (HBMs) are implemented.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021020-021020-9. doi:10.1115/1.4041113.

Buoyancy-induced flows occur in the rotating cavities of gas turbine internal air systems, and are particularly challenging to model due to their inherent unsteadiness. While the global features of such flows are well documented, detailed analyses of the unsteady structure and turbulent quantities have not been reported. In this work, we use a high-order numerical method to perform large-Eddy simulation of buoyancy-induced flow in a sealed rotating cavity with either adiabatic or heated disks. New insight is given into long-standing questions regarding the flow characteristics and nature of the boundary layers. The analyses focus on showing time-averaged quantities, including temperature and velocity fluctuations, as well as on the effect of the centrifugal Rayleigh number on the flow structure. Using velocity and temperature data collected over several revolutions of the system, the shroud and disk boundary layers are analyzed in detail. The instantaneous flow structure contains pairs of large, counter-rotating convection rolls, and it is shown that unsteady laminar Ekman boundary layers near the disks are driven by the interior flow structure. The shroud thermal boundary layer scales as approximately Ra1/3, in agreement with observations for natural convection under gravity.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021021-021021-11. doi:10.1115/1.4041143.

Pressure gain combustion (PGC) has been conceived to convert fuel's chemical energy into thermal energy and mechanical energy, thereby reducing the entropy production in the process. Recent research has shown that the rotating detonation combustor (RDC) can provide excellent specific thrust, specific impulse, and pressure gain within a small volume through rapid energy release by continuous detonation in the circumferential direction. The RDC as a PGC system for power generating gas turbines in combined cycle power plants could provide significant efficiency gains. However, few past studies have employed fuels that are relevant to power generation turbines, since RDC research has focused mainly on propulsion applications. In this study, we present experimental results from RDC operated on methane and oxygen-enriched air to represent reactants used in land-based power generation. The RDC is operated at a high pressure by placing a back-pressure plate downstream of the annular combustor. Past studies have focused mainly on probe measurements inside the combustor, and thus, little information is known about the nature of the products exiting the RDC. In particular, it is unknown if chemical reactions persist outside the RDC annulus, especially if methane is used as the fuel. In this study, we apply two time-resolved optical techniques to simultaneously image the RDC products at framing rate of 30 kHz: (1) direct visual-imaging to identify the overall size and extent of the plume, and (2) OH* chemiluminescence imaging to detect the reaction zones if any. Results show dynamic features of the combustion products that are consistent with the probe measurements inside the rotating detonation engine (RDE). Moreover, presence of OH* in the products suggests that the oblique shock wave and reactions persist downstream of the detonation zone in the RDC.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021022-021022-8. doi:10.1115/1.4041118.

It may be generally believed that the thermoacoustic eigenfrequencies of a combustor with fully acoustically reflecting boundary conditions depend on both flame dynamics and geometry of the system. In this work, we show that there are situations where this understanding does not strictly apply. The purpose of this study is twofold. In the first part, we show that the resonance frequencies of two premixed combustors with fully acoustically reflecting boundary conditions in the region of marginal stability depend only on the parameters of the flame dynamics but do not depend on the combustor's geometry. This is shown by means of a parametric study, where the time delay and the interaction index of the flame response are varied and the resulting complex eigenfrequency locus is shown. Assuming longitudinal acoustics and a low Mach number, a quasi-1D Helmholtz solver is utilized. The time delay and interaction index of the flame response are parametrically varied to calculate the complex eigenfrequency locus. It is found that all the eigenfrequency trajectories cross the real axis at a resonance frequency that depends only on the time delay. Such marginally stable frequencies are independent of the resonant cavity modes of the two combustors, i.e., the passive thermoacoustic modes. In the second part, we exploit the aforementioned observation to evaluate the critical flame gain required for the systems to become unstable at four eigenfrequencies located in the marginally stable region. A computationally efficient method is proposed. The key ingredient is to consider both direct and adjoint eigenvectors associated with the four eigenfrequencies. Hence, the sensitivity of the eigenfrequencies to changes in the gain at the region of marginal stability is evaluated with cheap and accurate calculations. This work contributes to the understanding of thermoacoustic stability of combustors. In the same manner, the understanding of the nature of distinct resonance frequencies in unstable combustors may be enhanced by employing the analysis of the eigenfrequency locus here reported.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021023-021023-9. doi:10.1115/1.4041130.

Tilting-pad journal bearings (TPJBs) ensure rotordynamic stability that could otherwise produce dangerously large amplitude rotor oil-whirl/whip motions in high-speed rotating machinery. Currently, highly efficient turbo compressors demand an ever increasing rotor surface speed and specific load on its support bearings. The accurate prediction of bearing performance is vital to guarantee reliable products, specifically with regard to reducing maximum bearing pad temperature and drag power losses, and operating with the least flow rate while still maximizing load capacity. The hydrodynamic pressure and heat generation in an oil film acting on a bearing pad produce significant mechanical and thermal deformations that change the oil film geometry (clearance and preload) to largely affect the bearing performance, static, and dynamic. In addition, a high surface speed bearing often operates in the turbulent flow regime that produces a notable increase in power loss and a drop in maximum pad temperature. This paper details a thermoelastohydrodynamic (TEHD) analysis model applied to TPJBs, presents predictions for their steady-load performance, and discusses comparisons with experimental results to validate the model. The test bearing has four pads with a load between pads configuration; its length L = 76.2 mm and shaft diameter D = 101.6 mm (L/D = 0.75). The rotor top speed is 22.6 krpm, i.e., 120 m/s surface speed, and the maximum specific load is 2.94 MPa for an applied load of 23 kN. The test procedure records shaft speed and applied load, oil supply pressure/temperature and flow rate, and also measures the pads' temperature and shaft temperature, as well as the discharge oil (sump) temperature. The TEHD model couples a generalized Reynolds equation for the hydrodynamic pressure generation with a three-dimensional energy transport equation for the film temperature. The pad mechanical deformation due to pressure utilizes the finite elemental method, whereas an analytical model estimates thermally induced pad crowning deformations. For operation beyond the laminar flow regime, the analysis incorporates the eddy viscosity concept for fully developed turbulent flow operation. Current predictions demonstrate the influence of pressure and temperature fields on the pads mechanical and thermally induced deformation fields and also show static performance characteristics such as bearing power loss, flow rate, and pad temperatures. The comparisons of test results and analysis results reveal that turbulent flow effects significantly reduce the pads' maximum temperature while increasing the bearing power loss. Turbulent flow mixing increases the diffusion of thermal energy and makes more uniform the temperature profile across the film.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021024-021024-13. doi:10.1115/1.4040902.

Squeeze film dampers (SFDs) in aircraft engines effectively aid to reduce rotor motion amplitudes, in particular when traversing a critical speed, and help to alleviate rotor whirl instabilities. The current work is a long-term endeavor focused on quantifying the dynamic force performance of practical SFDs, exploring novel design damper configurations, and producing physically sound predictive SFD models validated by experimental data. Piston rings (PRs) and O-rings (ORs), commonly used as end seals in SFDs for commercial and military gas turbine engines, respectively, amplify viscous damping in a short physical length and while operating with a modicum of lubricant flow. This paper presents experimental force coefficients (damping and inertia) for two identical geometry SFDs with end seals, one configuration hosts PRs, and the other one ORs. The test rig comprises a stationary journal and bearing cartridge (BC) hosting the SFD and supported on four elastic rods to emulate a squirrel cage. The damper film land length, diameter, and clearance are L = 25.4 mm, D = 5L, and c = 0.373 mm (D/c = 340), respectively. A supply feeds ISO VG 2 oil to the film land at its middle plane through either one hole or three holes, 2.5 mm in diameter, 120 deg apart. In the PRSFD, the lubricant exits through the slit opening at the ring butted ends. The ORs suppress oil leakage; hence, lubricant evacuates through a 1 mm hole at ¼ L near one journal end. The ORs when installed add significant stiffness and damping to the test structure. The ORSFD produces 20% more damping than the PRSFD, whereas both sealed ends SFDs show similar size added mass. For oil supplied at 0.69 bar(g) through a single orifice produces larger damping, 60–80% more than when the damper operates with three oil feedholes. A computational model reproducing the test conditions delivers force coefficients in agreement with the test data. Archival literature calls for measurement of a single pressure signal to estimate SFD reaction forces. For circular centered orbits (CCOs), the dynamic pressure field, in the absence of any geometrical asymmetry or feed/discharge oil condition, “rotates” around the bearing with a speed equal to the whirl frequency. The paper presents force coefficients estimated from (a) measurements of the applied forces and ensuing displacements, and (b) the dynamic pressure recorded at a fixed angular location and “integrated” over the journal surface. The first method delivers a damping coefficient that is large even with lubricant supplied at a low oil supply pressure whereas the inertia coefficient increases steadily with feed pressure. Predictions show good agreement with the test results from measured forces and displacements, in particular the added mass. On the other hand, identified damping and inertia coefficients from dynamic pressures show a marked difference from one pressure sensor to another, and vastly disagreeing with test results from the first method or predictions. The rationale for the discrepancy relies on local distortions in the dynamic pressure fields that show zones of oil vapor cavitation at a near zero absolute pressure and/or with air ingestion producing high frequency spikes from bubble collapsing; both phenomena depend on the magnitude of the oil supply pressure. An increase in lubricant supply pressure suppresses both oil vapor cavitation and air ingestion, which produces an increase of both damping and inertia force coefficients. No prior art compares the performance of a PRSFD vis-à-vis that of an ORSFD. Supplying lubricant with a large enough pressure (flow rate) is crucial to avoid the pervasiveness of air ingestion. Last, the discussion on force coefficients obtained from two distinct methods questions the use of an oversimplifying assumption; the dynamic pressure field is not invariant in a rotating coordinate frame.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021025-021025-8. doi:10.1115/1.4041308.

Recently, a fractal-based algebraic flame surface density (FSD) premixed combustion model has been derived and validated in the context of large eddy simulation (LES). The fractal parameters in the model, namely the cut-off scales and the fractal dimension were derived using theoretical models, experimental and direct numerical simulation (DNS) databases. The model showed good performance in predicting the premixed turbulent flame propagation for low to high Reynold numbers (Re) in ambient as well as elevated pressure conditions. Several LES combustion models have a direct counterpart in the Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) context. In this work, a RANS version of the aforementioned LES subgrid scale FSD combustion model is developed. The performance of the RANS model is compared with that of the original LES model and validated with the experimental data. It is found that the RANS version of the model shows similarly good agreement with the experimental data.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021026-021026-10. doi:10.1115/1.4041169.

Since the intake valve close timing (IVC) directly determines the amount of displacement backflow and the amount of fresh charge trapped in the cylinder, optimizing the IVC is important to improve the performance of the diesel engine. In this paper, the relationship between the IVC and the displacement backflow of the cylinder at the high-speed condition was studied by establishing a one-dimensional (1D) gas dynamic model of a single-cylinder diesel engine. The results show that the forward airflow mass of intake and the backflow increase as the IVC retards, and the airflow mass trapped in cylinder increases at first and then decreases. It is interesting to find that the backflow does not equal zero when the air mass trapped in cylinder is the largest, which is different from the traditional optimizing strategy on the IVC. That is to say, there exists a misalignment between the maximum-volume-efficiency IVC and the none-backflow IVC. To further verify this interesting misalignment, the airflow characteristics at the optimized IVC condition are studied by establishing a three-dimensional (3D) simulation. It is found that the appearance of backflow is a gradual process, and there exists an overall backflow when the engine volume efficiency reaches its maximum value. In addition, the misalignment is reduced as the mean valve-closing velocity increases. The misalignment equals to 0 only if the mean valve-closing velocity approaches infinity.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Research Papers

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021009-021009-10. doi:10.1115/1.4040859.

With the current shift from centralized to more decentralized power production, new opportunities arise for small-scale combined heat and power (CHP) production units like micro gas turbines (mGTs). However, to fully embrace these opportunities, the current mGT technology has to become more flexible in terms of operation—decoupling the heat and power production in CHP mode—and in terms of fuel utilization—showing flexibility in the operation with different lower heating value (LHV) fuels. Cycle humidification, e.g., by performing steam injection, is a possible route to handle these problems. Current simulation models are able to correctly assess the impact of humidification on the cycle performance, but they fail to provide detailed information on the combustion process. To fully quantify the potential of cycle humidification, more advanced numerical models—preferably validated—are necessary. These models are not only capable of correctly predicting the cycle performance, but they can also handle the complex chemical kinetics in the combustion chamber. In this paper, we compared and validated such a model with a typical steady-state model of the steam injected mGT cycle based on the Turbec T100. The advanced one is an in-house MATLAB model, based on the NIST database for the characterization of the properties of the gaseous compounds with the combustion mechanisms embedded according to the Gri-MEch 3.0 library. The validation one was constructed using commercial software (Aspen Plus), using the more advance Redlich-Kwong-Soave (RKS)- Boston-Mathias(BM) property method and assuming complete combustion by using a Gibbs reactor. Both models were compared considering steam injection in the compressor outlet or in the combustion chamber, focusing only on the global cycle performance. Simulation results of the steam injection cycle fueled with natural gas and syngas showed some differences between the two presented models (e.g., 5.9% on average for the efficiency increase over the simulated steam injection rates at nominal power output for injection in the compressor outlet); however, the general trends that could be observed are consistent. Additionally, the numerical results of the injection in the compressor outlet were also validated with steam-injection experiments in a Turbec T100, indicating that the advanced MATLAB model overestimates the efficiency improvement by 25–45%. The results show the potential of simulating the humidified cycle using more advanced models; however, in future work, special attention should be paid to the experimental tuning of the model parameters in general and the recuperator performance in particular to allow correct assessment of the cycle performance.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021010-021010-10. doi:10.1115/1.4040846.

One of the most important problems facing gas turbine designers today is the ingestion of hot mainstream gases into the wheel-space between the turbine disk (rotor) and its adjacent casing (stator). A rim seal is fitted at the periphery and a superposed sealant flow—typically fed through the bore of the stator—is used to prevent ingress. The majority of research studies investigating ingress do so in the absence of any leakage paths that exist throughout the engine's architecture. These inevitable pathways are found between the mating interfaces of adjacent pieces of hardware. In an environment where the turbine is subjected to aggressive thermal and centrifugal loading, these interface gaps can be difficult to predict and the resulting leakage flows which pass through them even harder to account for. This paper describes experimental results from a research facility which experimentally models hot gas ingestion into the wheel-space of an axial turbine stage. The facility was specifically designed to incorporate leakage flows through the stator disk; leakage flows were introduced axially through the stator shroud or directly underneath the vane carrier ring. Measurements of CO2 gas concentration, static pressure, and total pressure were used to examine the wheel-space flow structure with and without ingress from the mainstream gas-path. Data are presented for a simple axial-clearance rim-seal. The results support two distinct flow-structures, which are shown to be dependent on the mass-flow ratio of bore and leakage flows. Once the leakage flow was increased above a certain threshold, the flow structure is shown to transition from a classical Batchelor-type rotor-stator system to a vortex-dominated structure. The existence of a toroidal vortex immediately inboard of the outer rim-seal is shown to encourage ingestion.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):021011-021011-7. doi:10.1115/1.4040904.

In this study, syngas combustion was investigated behind reflected shock waves in CO2 bath gas to measure ignition delay times (IDT) and to probe the effects of CO2 dilution. New syngas data were taken between pressures of 34.58–45.50 atm and temperatures of 1113–1275 K. This study provides experimental data for syngas combustion in CO2 diluted environments: ignition studies in a shock tube (59 data points in 10 datasets). In total, these mixtures covered a range of temperatures T, pressures P, equivalence ratios φ, H2/CO ratio θ, and CO2 diluent concentrations. Multiple syngas combustion mechanisms exist in the literature for modeling IDTs and their performance can be assessed against data collected here. In total, twelve mechanisms were tested and presented in this work. All mechanisms need improvements at higher pressures for accurately predicting the measured IDTs. At lower pressures, some of the models agreed relatively well with the data. Some mechanisms predicted IDTs which were two orders of magnitudes different from the measurements. This suggests that there is behavior that has not been fully understood on the kinetic models and is inaccurate in predicting CO2 diluted environments for syngas combustion. To the best of our knowledge, current data are the first syngas IDTs measurements close to 50 atm under highly CO2 diluted (85% per vol.) conditions.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Gas Turbines: Structures and Dynamics

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):022501-022501-9. doi:10.1115/1.4040858.

Turbomachinery rotor–stator unilateral contact induced interactions play a growing role in lifecycle analysis and thus motivate the use of accurate numerical prediction tools. Recent literature confirmed by ongoing in-house experiments have shown the importance of thermomechanical coupling effects in such interactions. However, most available (possibly reduced-order) models are restricted to the sole mechanical aspects. This work describes a reduction technique of thermomechanical models involving unilateral contact and frictional contact occurrences between rotor and stator components. The proposed methodology is grounded on Guyan and Craig–Bampton methods for the reduction of the structural dynamics in conjunction with Krylov subspace techniques, and specifically the Craig–Hale approach, for the reduction of the thermal equations. The method has the capability to drastically reduce the size of the model while preserving accuracy. It stands as a reliable strategy to perform simulations of thermomechanical models with localized mechanical and thermal loads.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):022502-022502-7. doi:10.1115/1.4040857.

In turbomachinery, it is well known that tighter operating clearances improve the efficiency. However, this leads to unwanted potential unilateral and frictional contact occurrences between the rotating (blades) and stationary components (casings) together with attendant thermal excitations. Unilateral contact induces discontinuities in the velocity at impact times, hence the terminology nonsmooth dynamics. Current modeling strategies of rotor–stator interactions are either based on regularizing penalty methods or on explicit time-marching methods derived from Carpenter's forward Lagrange multiplier method. Regularization introduces an artificial time scale in the formulation corresponding to numerical stiffness, which is not desirable. Carpenter's scheme has been successfully applied to turbomachinery industrial models in the sole mechanical framework, but faces serious stability issues when dealing with the additional heat equation. This work overcomes the above issues by using the Moreau–Jean nonsmooth integration scheme within an implicit θ-method. This numerical scheme is based on a mathematically sound description of the contact dynamics by means of measure differential inclusions and enjoys attractive features. The procedure is unconditionally stable opening doors to quick preliminary simulations with time-steps one hundred times larger than with previous algorithms. It can also deal with strongly coupled thermomechanical problems.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):022503-022503-9. doi:10.1115/1.4041520.

The following work advances a new concept for a hermetically sealed squeeze film damper (HSFD), which does not require an open-flow lubrication system. The hermetically sealed concept utilizes a submersed plunger within a contained fluidic cavity filled with incompressible fluid and carefully controlled end plate clearances to generate high levels of viscous damping. Although the application space for a hermetic damper can be envisioned to be quite broad, the context here will target the use of this device as a rotordynamic bearing support damper in flexibly mounted gas bearing systems. The effort focused on identifying the stiffness and damping behavior of the damper while varying test parameters such as excitation frequency, vibration amplitude, and end plate clearance. To gain further insight to the damper behavior, key dynamic pressure measurements in the damper land were used for identifying the onset conditions for squeeze film cavitation. The HSFD performance is compared to existing gas bearing support dampers and a conventional open-flow squeeze film dampers (SFD) used in turbomachinery. The damper concept yields high viscous damping coefficients an order of magnitude larger than existing oil-free gas bearing supports dampers and shows comparable damping levels to current state of the art open-flow SFD. The force coefficients were shown to contribute frequency-dependent stiffness and damping coefficients while exhibiting amplitude independent behavior within operating regimes without cavitation. Finally, using experimentally based force density calculations, the data revealed threshold cavitation velocities, approximated for the three end seal clearance cases. To complement the experimental work, a Reynolds-based fluid flow model was developed and is compared to the HSFD damping and stiffness results.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. 2018;141(2):022504-022504-10. doi:10.1115/1.4041310.

This paper presents a new gas bearing concept that targets machine applications in the megawatt (MW) power range. The concept involves combining a compliant hybrid gas bearing (CHGB) with two hermetically sealed squeeze film damper (HSFD) modules installed in the bearing support damper cavities. The main aim of the research was to demonstrate gas bearing-support damping levels using HSFD that rival conventional open-flow squeeze film dampers (SFD) in industry. A detailed description of the bearing design and functionality is discussed while anchoring the concept through a brief recap of past gas bearing concepts. Proof-of-concept experimental testing is presented involving parameter identification of the bearing support force coefficients along with a demonstration of speed and load capability using recessed hydrostatic pads. Finally, a landing test was performed on the bearing at high speed and load with porous carbon pads to show capability of sustaining rubs at high speeds. The component testing revealed robust viscous damping in the bearing support, which was shown to be comparable to existing state of the art SFD concepts. The damping and stiffness of the system-portrayed moderate frequency dependency, which was simulated using a 2D Reynolds-based incompressible fluid flow model. Finally, rotating tests demonstrated the ability of the gas bearing concept to sustain journal excursions and loads indicative of critical speed transitions experienced in large turbomachinery.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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