The optimization of the turbine rotor tip geometry remains a vital opportunity to create more efficient and durable engines. Balancing the aerodynamic and thermal aspects, while maintaining the mechanical integrity, is key to reshape one of the most vulnerable and life-determining parts of the entire turbine. The ever-increasing turbine gas temperatures, combined with the difficulty of cooling the tip and the aerodynamically penalizing nature of the overtip leakage vortex, make the design of the tip a truly multidisciplinary challenge.
While many earlier efforts focused on uncooled geometries or studied the aerothermal impact with a fixed cooling configuration, the current paper presents the outcome of a multi-objective optimization where both the squealer rim geometry and the cooling injection pattern were allowed to vary simultaneously. This study explores a significantly wider design space, seeking a further synergistic aerothermal benefit through the combination of a quasi-fully arbitrary cooling arrangement, with mutating squealer rim structures. Specifically, the current manuscript presents the results of over 330 cooled and uncooled squealer tip geometries. The high-pressure turbine tip was automatically altered using a novel parametrization strategy adopting a maximum of 40 design variables to vary the squealer rim structures, as well as the size and location of the various cooling holes. The aerodynamic and thermal characteristics of every design were evaluated through Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations with the k–ω shear-stress transport (SST) model for the turbulence closure, adopting an unstructured hexahedral grid typically containing more than 8 × 106 cells. A multi-objective differential evolution algorithm was used to obtain a Pareto front of designs which maximize the aerodynamic efficiency, while minimizing the overtip thermal loads. Eventually, a detailed investigation and robustness study was performed on a set of prime squealer geometries, to further investigate the aerodynamic flow topology and the effect of various cooling injection schemes on the heat transfer patterns.