Tip leakage flows in unshrouded high speed turbines cause large aerodynamic penalties, induce significant thermal loads and give rise to intense thermal stresses onto the blade tip and casing endwalls. In the pursuit of superior engine reliability and efficiency, the turbine blade tip design is of paramount importance and still poses an exceptional challenge to turbine designers. The ever-increasing rotational speeds and pressure loadings tend to accelerate the tip flow velocities beyond the transonic regime. Overtip supersonic flows are characterized by complex flow patterns, which determine the heat transfer signature. Hence, the physics of the overtip flow structures and the influence of the geometrical parameters on the overtip flow require further understanding to develop innovative tip designs. Conventional blade tip shapes are not adequate for such high speed flows and hence, potential for enhanced performances lays in appropriate tip shaping.

The present research aims to quantify the prospective gain offered by a fully contoured blade tip shape against conventional geometries such as a flat and squealer tip. A detailed numerical study was conducted on a modern transonic turbine rotor blade (Reynolds number is 5.5 × 105, relative exit Mach number is 0.9) by means of three-dimensional Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes calculations. The novel contoured tip geometry was designed based on a 2D tip shape optimization in which only the upper 2% of the blade span was modified. This study yields a deeper insight into the application of blade tip carving in high speed turbines and provides guidelines for future tip designs with enhanced aerothermal performances.

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