The continuous increase of variable renewable energy and fuel cost requires steam turbine power plants to operate with high flexibility. This situation leads to steam turbines running at very low volume flow (LVF) for an extended time. Ventilation power and temperature predictions have a significant impact on the thermo-economic optimization of the power plant and lifetime assessment of the ventilating stages.

In the last decade with increasing capabilities of CFD and computational resources, significant steps have been made in assessing complex flow behavior. Full size or scaled experimental testing of different last stage blades for a wide range of low load operating conditions is expensive, therefore CFD provides new opportunities in low load assessment. However, prediction of the flow structure of the ventilating stages still represents a challenge for the current CFD tools in terms of calculation time and reliability of the results. There are many different approaches in assessing this phenomenon, which require different computer resources and may not be necessary for most industrial applications.

This paper presents the validation of the multiple mixing plane approach (MMP) presented by [9] for low-pressure steam turbine running at low load. Through a comparison with measurements results and more sophisticated methods, it is shown that this approach is able to sufficiently accurately predict the flow field and hence the ventilation power and temperature at low volume flow.

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