Full-scale annular experimental evaluation of two different high pressure turbine first stage vane cooling designs was carried out using high frequency surface heat-flux measurements in the Turbine Research Facility at the Air Force Research Laboratory. A baseline film cooling geometry was tested simultaneously with a genetically optimized vane aimed to improve efficiency and part life. Part 1 of this two-part paper describes the experimental instrumentation, test facility, and surface heat flux measurements used to evaluate both cooling schemes. Part 2 of this paper describes the result of companion conjugate heat transfer posttest predictions, and gives numerical background on the design and modelling of both film cooling geometries.
Time-resolved surface heat flux data is captured at multiple airfoil span and chord locations for each cooling design. Area based assessment of surface flux data verifies the genetic optimization redistributes excessive cooling away from midspan areas to improve efficiency. Results further reveal key discrepancies between design intent and real hardware behavior. Elevated heat flux above intent in some areas led to investigation of backflow margin and unsteady hot gas ingestion at certain film holes. Analysis shows areas toward the vane inner and outer endwalls of the aft pressure side were more sensitive to reduced aft cavity backflow margin. In addition, temporal analysis shows film cooled heat flux having large high frequency fluctuations that can vary across nearly the full range of film cooling effectiveness at some locations. Velocity and acceleration of these large unsteady heat flux events moving near the endwall of the vane pressure side is reported for the first time. The temporal nature of the unsteady 3-D film cooling features are a large factor in determining average local heat flux levels. This study determined this effect to be particularly important in areas on real hardware along the HPT vane pressure side endwalls towards the trailing edge, where numerical assumptions are often challenged. Better understanding of the physics of the highly unsteady 3D film cooled flow features occurring in real hardware is necessary to accurately predict distress progression in localized areas, prevent unforeseen part failures, and enable improvements to turbine engine efficiency. The results of this two-part paper are relevant to engines in extended service today.