Computationally Exploring the Gas Turbine Performance Benefits of Rotor Blade Articulation in Common and Extreme Operating Conditions

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Kozak, Nikita
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Mechanical Engineering
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The Honors project is potentially the most valuable component of an Honors education. Typically Honors students choose to do their projects in their area of study, but some will pick a topic of interest unrelated to their major.

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The aim of this work is to computationally investigate the impact of a novel rotor blade technology on gas-turbine engine performance under off-design conditions. Today's gas-turbine engines are designed to operate at a single condition with nearly fixed speeds. Operation at off-design conditions, such as hover flight or takeoff, causes flow separation that introduces performance degradations, noise, and loss of operability. To address these issues, a concept that articulates the rotating turbine blade synchronously with the stator nozzle vanes is proposed. This concept is investigated using a novel CFD/FSI framework based on finite element analysis. The model considers a complex single stage high-pressure turbine geometry with Army relevant dimensions and operating conditions. This study focuses on determining the concept’s performance benefits and limitations. The key variables of interest include the forces and moments on the blade surfaces, torque, power, and turbine stage adiabatic efficiency. The results show that efficiency increases of up to 10% can be obtained at off-design conditions and provide valuable information for the design of variable speed gas turbine engines and the necessary blade articulation mechanisms that can revolutionize propulsion systems for the US Army Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.