The aim of this work is an evaluation of different turbulence models applied in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques in the turbomachinery area, in this case, in an axial turbine stage used in turbopump (TP) application. The tip clearance region was considered in this study because it has a high influence in turbomachinery performance. In this region, due to its geometry and the relative movement between the rotor row and casing, there are losses associated with vortices and secondary flow making the flowfield even more turbulent and complex. Moreover, the flow that leaks in the tip region does not participate in the energy transfer between the fluid and rotor blades, degradating the machine efficiency and performance. In this work, the usual flat tip rotor blade geometry was considered.

The modeling of turbulent flow based on Reynolds Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) equations predicts the variation of turbine operational characteristics that is sufficient for the present turbomachine and flow analysis. Therefore, the appropriate choice of the turbulence model for the study of a given flow is essential to obtain adequate results using numerical approximations. This comparison become important due to the fact that there is no general turbulence model for all engineering applications that has fluid and flow.

The turbomachine considered in the present work, is the first stage of the hydraulic axial turbine used in the Low Pressure Oxidizer Turbopump (LPOTP) of the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME), considering the 3.0% tip clearance configuration relative to rotor blade height. The turbulence models evaluated in this work were the SST (Shear Stress Transport), the k-ε Standard and the k-ε RNG. The computational domain was discretized in several control volumes based on unstructured mesh. All the simulations were performed using the commercial software developed by ANSYS, CFX v15.0 (ANSYS). All numerical settings and how the boundary conditions were imposed at different surfaces are explained in the work. The boundary conditions settings follow the same rule used in the test facility and needs some attention during the simulations to vary the Blade-Jet-Speed ratio parameter adequately.

The results from numerical simulations, were synthesized and compared with the experimental data published by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in which the turbine efficiency and its jet velocity parameter are analyzed for each turbulence model result. The work fluid considered in this work was water, the same fluid used in the NASA test facility.

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