To meet today’s and future market needs, large end-stage blades are obliged to fulfill high flexibility regarding the operational range and high efficiency goals while being prepared for daily start-stop cycles.

The end-stage total efficiency can be maximized by enlarging the steam turbine exhaust area and thereby reducing the exhaust losses. Therefore, a new Low Pressure (LP) backend featuring an increased freestanding 41″ steel blade has been developed and is presented here, which is optimized for maximum efficiency over a wide range of operation conditions.

To allow for such a large steel-blade to operate at 60Hz rotational speed and to meet the daily cycling demand, various aspects of the blade design were optimized. A new high strength blade steel was developed (Teuber [1]), which gives the designer freedom for aerodynamical optimizations, while keeping the mechanical utilization within the predefined, allowable limits. To maximize the cycling capability, a new fir tree root was developed which minimizes the static as well as the dynamic loading. To verify the success of the new fir-tree root design and to verify the natural frequencies for the relevant modes, an extensive validation measurement campaign was setup with a full-scale blade row in a spin-pit. Here, the airfoil, root and steeple of the end-stage blade were equipped with strain gauges. Additionally, the blade row was monitored using tip-timing sensors. The results of this validation measurement campaign are presented in this paper. They show a close agreement between the design calculations and the measured static strains and vibration responses in terms of natural frequencies as well as displacement and strain amplitudes.

Additionally, a test turbine has been set-up featuring a direct scaling of the new LP backend with the new high strength steel and a pre-stage to simulate realistic operation conditions over the complete operation range. The blade performance was tested up to high mass-flows, condenser pressures of up to 300 mbar and at varying load points covering all potential load points from extreme part load to full load with minimal and maximal condenser pressure. Strain gauges as well as tip-timing are used to measure the vibration response of the end-stage blade during the measurement campaign. The results presented here show, that throughout the complete measurement campaign the blade experienced minimal excitation which led to vibration levels that allowed unrestricted operation in the complete, tested operation range. In summary this paper shows the main design features of a large full-speed freestanding end-stage blade and the validation measures that were performed to ensure that the design targets and the market requirements are fully met.

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