An experimental study has been conducted to investigate the aerothermal performance of a shrouded high pressure turbine blade in a large scale rotating rig. The rotor blade and the associated shroud and casing geometry have been modelled in a large scale low speed turbine rig that was designed to investigate a novel passive shroud cooling methodology. The objective of the present paper is to provide a detailed description of the flow field around the rotor blade shroud. The improved physical understanding of the shroud flow gained from this study will be used to analyse the aerothermal performance of the shroud cooling strategy as reported in a companion paper, Lehmann et al. [1]. Experiments have been carried out using endoscopic PIV to identify and understand salient flow features that exist upstream and downstream of the shroud as well as within the shroud cavities. The measurements are complemented by steady and unsteady numerical computations of the turbine stage. The study identifies the existence of important vortical structures within the shroud cavities that not only interact with the main passage flow but also modify the amount and distribution of the shroud leakage flow in a manner that has major implications for shroud cooling and heat transfer. A detailed shroud flow model is derived and used to elucidate the causes and consequences of the flow pattern observed. The model emphasises the circumferentially asymmetric nature of the cavity flow structures caused by the presence of the inter shroud gap that in turn influences the production, interaction and dissipation of such vortical structures.

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