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Modeling and Optimizing Turbines for Unsteady Flow


OBJECTIVE: Develop an analytical software tool capable of modeling and optimizing turbine components for unsteady flow conditions. DESCRIPTION: Conventional gas turbine engines rely on Constant Pressure Combustion (CPC) to generate the enthalpy needed to provide the horsepower and thrust that our warfighters need. Unfortunately, CPC is a very inefficient process and approximately 30-40% of the energy contained in a unit of fuel is wasted. The ability to create greater efficiency and power density using current gas turbine technology and design is extremely limited and the marginal rate of return in dollars and technology invested versus efficiency and power density is decreasing. The DoD and Industry spends millions of dollars to achieve fractions of a percent increase in fuel efficiency. Increased SFC directly translates into greater range, endurance and capability for our military. Pressure Gain Combustion (PGC) addresses the largest source of inefficiency in gas turbine engines and offers the greatest potential for improving combustion efficiency and reducing Specific Fuel Consumption (SFC). It is estimated that integrating this technology into current or future engines will decrease SFC by 10-20% and increase power density by 20%. Although PGC has demonstrated efficiency, it is not without its drawbacks. Almost every PGC concept developed whether Pulse Detonation Engines (PDE), Rotating Detonation Engines (RDE) or Wave Rotor introduces unsteady flow conditions. Conventional gas turbines are optimized for steady flow conditions and introduction of unsteadiness in pressure, temperature, and/or swirl angle can have detrimental effects on turbine efficiency. Without the development of a highly efficient turbine capable of operating across a wide range of temperatures, pressures, and incidence angles, all gains made by the combustors will be lost when PGCs are integrated with turbines. Efficient turbines capable of operating in highly unsteady regimes are needed in order to fully achieve the energy benefits PGCs offer. The current State of the Art for this technology is TRL 2. At the end of this STTR it is anticipated that an optimized turbine can be designed and tested to validate the software. PHASE I: Develop an analytical software tool capable of modeling and optimizing turbine components in unsteady flow. Select current or previous PGC data (unsteady flow to the turbine) as input to develop an analytical software tool capable of modeling and optimizing turbine components for unsteady flow conditions and increasing efficiency. The Phase I deliverables will include monthly status reports and a Final report. PHASE II: Utilize the software tool developed in Phase I to design and manufacture an optimized first stage high pressure turbine and test it in an operationally relevant environment. The target Technology Readiness Level (TRL) for this component should be 4-5. Deliverables include: a prototype of the optimized high pressure turbine, monthly status reports, and a final report that contains test data from the optimized component. PHASE III: This technology is applicable to the Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps gas turbine engines and their use in aircraft, ground vehicle, and ship propulsion. Significant fuel cost savings, reduced logistics footprint, and an overall increase in turbine efficiencies will reduce dependency on fuel and have a profound impact on national security. This technology has commercial gas turbine application in aircraft and commercial ship propulsion; and gas turbine - power generation. The ability to model and optimize turbine components for unsteady flow conditions is essential in the ability to design pressure gain combustion turbine engines in the future. Pressure gain combustion technology has the potential to reduce specific fuel consumption by 20% and increase power density by 20%. REFERENCES: 1) Mattingly, J. D.,"Elements of Gas Turbine Propulsion", McGraw-Hill, 1996.

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