Steam turbines are among the most important systems in commercial and industrial power conversion. As the amount of renewable energies increases, power plants formerly operated at steady state base load are now experiencing increased times at part load conditions. Besides other methods, the use of control valves is a widely spread method for controlling the power output of a steam turbine. In difference to other throttling approaches, the control valve enables fast load gradients as the boiler can be operated at constant conditions and allows a quicker response on variable power requirements.
At part load, a significant amount of energy is dissipated across the valve, as the total inlet pressure of the turbine is decreased across the valve. At these conditions, the flow through the valve becomes trans- and supersonic and large pressure fluctuations appear within the downstream part of the valve. As a result, unsteady forces are acting on the valve structure and vibrations can be triggered, leading to mechanical stresses and possible failures of the valve.
Besides more complex valve geometries, a spherical valve shape is still often used in smaller and industrial steam turbines. Because of the smooth head contour, the flow is prone to remain attached to the head surface and interact with the flow coming from the opposite side. This behaviour is accompanied by flow instabilities and large pressure fluctuations, leading to unsteady forces and possible couplings with mechanical frequencies. The spherical valve shape was therefore chosen as the experimental test geometry for the investigation of the unsteady flow field and fluid-structure-interactions within a scaled steam turbine control valve.
Using numerical methods, the test valve is investigated and the time dependent pressure distribution in the downstream diffuser is evaluated. The evolution of the flow stability will be discussed for different pressure ratios. Pressure signals retrieved from the control valve test rig will be used to compare the numerical results to experimental data.