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University of Cambridge > Department of Engineering > Whittle Lab > Nick Atkins


       The Oxford Rotor Facility


HP turbine aerodynamics and heat transfer

Following on from from my research at the Osney Laboratory I continue to work on the aerodynamics and heat transfer of High Pressure Turbines (HPT). Their efficiency and durability is affected by many phenomena, including shock, wake, potential and vortex interactions. Many of these aerothermal flow phenomena are still little understood and modern engine designs are prone to burning, erosion and component life issues. This can lead to expensive design iterations late in the development cycle.

In general, the research has been aimed at developing an understanding of the interactions and flow physics through a combination of detailed measurements and numerical modelling. The experimental work was carried out at the Oxford Rotor Facility; where transient operation allows the simultaneous study of both heat transfer and aerodynamics at engine representative conditions.

During my doctoral research I developed turbine aerodynamic efficiency measurements, a European first in a transient turbine test facility. The methods are now influencing the work of several international academic research groups including the Von Karman Institute (Belgium) and QinetiQ (UK) who are now active in the development of this technique.

During my Junior Research Fellowship I worked on bladetip and casing erosion, a significant problem for many manufacturers. The work uses unique engine representative experimental data, together with unsteady CFD predictions. The key achievements were demonstration, and more importantly explanation, of a 30% heat load reduction on the turbine casing. More recently I have used unsteady CFD predictions to explain previously undocumented mechanisms for the augmentation of heat transfer on HPT blade tips by unsteady work processes, and co-authored a paper on the mechanisms and heat transfer effects of transonic blade tip gap flow. Understanding the potential effects of these phenomena on the performance of actual cooled engine parts is currently limited and of significant academic interest.