Modern steam turbines need to operate efficiently and safely over a wide range of operating conditions. This paper presents a unique unprecedented set of time-resolved steam flowfield measurements from the exit of the last two stages of a low pressure (LP) steam turbine under various volumetric massflow conditions.
The measurements were performed in the steam turbine test facility in Hitachi city in Japan. A newly developed fast response probe equipped with a heated tip to operate in wet steam flows was used. The probe tip is heated through an active control system using a miniature high-power cartridge heater developed in-house.
Three different operating points, including two reduced massflow conditions, are compared and a detailed analysis of the unsteady flow structures under various blade loads and wetness mass fractions is presented. The measurements show that at the exit of the second to last stage the flow field is highly three dimensional. The measurements also show that the secondary flow structures at the tip region (shroud leakage and tip passage vortices) are the predominant sources of unsteadiness at 85% span. The high massflow operating condition exhibits the highest level of periodical total pressure fluctuation compared to the reduced massflow conditions at the inlet of the last stage. In contrast at the exit of the last stage, the reduced massflow operating condition exhibits the largest aerodynamic losses near the tip. This is due to the onset of the ventilation process at the exit of the LP steam turbine. This phenomenon results in 3 times larger levels of relative total pressure unsteadiness at 93% span, compared to the high massflow condition. This implies that at low volumetric flow conditions the blades will be subjected to higher dynamic load fluctuations at the tip region.