Ingress is the penetration of hot mainstream fluid into the cavity formed between the turbine disc (rotor) and its adjacent casing (stator). Gas turbine engine designers use rim seals fitted at the periphery of the discs and a superposed sealant flow — typically fed through the bore of the stator — is used to reduce, or in the limit prevent, ingress. Parasitic leakage enters the cavity through pathways created between mating interfaces of engine components. Owing to the aggressive thermal and centrifugal loading experienced during the turbine operating cycle, the degree of leakage and its effect on ingress are difficult to predict.
This paper considers the potential for leakage flows to be conditioned in order to minimise their parasitic effect on disc cooling, and ultimately engine, performance. Measurements of static and total pressure, swirl and species concentration were used to assess the performance of a simple axial clearance rim-seal over a range of non-dimensional leakage flow-rates. A computational model was used to provide flow visualisation to support the interpretation of flow structures derived from the experiments.
Data is presented to investigate the effects of swirling the leakage flow in accordance with, and counter to, the disc rotation. The injected momentum from the leakage created a toroidal vortex in the outer part of the cavity. Co-swirl was found to improve the sealing effectiveness by up to 15% compared to the axially-introduced baseline and counter-swirled configurations. Varying the momentum of the leakage flow was considered by passing consistent mass-flows through a range of leakage outlet areas. Increasing the momentum was seen to increase the influence of the toroidal vortex on the flow structure in the cavity, which in turn influenced the sealing effectiveness.