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Designing Gas Turbines - It Really Requires Rocket Science

By Barbara Shea
Feb 16, 2017

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Engineers who design aircraft engines face a conundrum. Gas turbines in aircraft engines have to operate at very high temperatures for thermal efficiency and power output. These high temperatures put thermal stresses on the turbine blade materials. This requires that the blades be cooled. The most common way of doing this is using cooled air extracted from the engine’s compressor. Sadly, this air extraction decreases the thermal efficiency of the engine.

So how do you find the balance between gas turbine blade cooling and engine output? The answer lies in the turbine geometry. To design an efficient way to cool the turbine blades, the Design Engineer must have a deep understanding of hot-gas- flow physics within the turbine itself. It is critical to get the temperature calculations right since mistakes impact blade life. And when blades fail, engines fail. And when engines fail, people could die. No pressure.

Brute force CFD methods usually can’t be applied effectively since the flow fields are so complicated. This means other methods must be explored. One way is to use a software program that includes features to reduce the total time and cost to generate airfoil cooling-passage geometry. One of the best programs available is the Cooled Turbine Airfoil Agile Design System (CTAADS™). Developed by Concepts NREC, we worked with NASA to incorporate their simulation program, developed at the Marshall Space Flight Center, into our commercially software. We are literally talking about using rocket science here folks.

CTAADS provides the best systematic, 3-D modeling approach for the rapid generation of airfCTAADS.pngoil cooling-passage geometry. It also performs complete 3-D thermal analysis. CTAADS provides users with flexibility to define the fluid flow network. Users can control how many sections there are and produce airflow calculations for compressible flow with friction, heat addition, area change, as well as choked flow. The software also includes numerous resistance options specific to turbine cooling.

The flexibility of this program enables other applications such as heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, chemical processing, gas processing, power plants, hydraulic control circuits, and various types of fluid distribution systems.  That’s why so many of the world’s leading gas turbine developers use CTAADS.

Learn more about CTAADS

Tags: CAE Software, Engineering

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