In turbomachinery design the accurate prediction of the life cycle is one of the most challenging issues. Traditionally, life cycle calculations for radial turbine wheels of turbochargers focus on mechanical loads such as centrifugal and vibration forces. Due to the increase in exhaust gas temperatures in the last years, thermomechanical fatigue in the turbine wheel came more into focus. In order to account for the thermally induced stresses in the turbine wheel as a part of the standard design process, a fast method is required for predicting metal temperatures.

In order to develop a suitable method, the mechanisms have to be understood that cause the thermal stresses. Thus, in a first step a detailed analysis of the temperature fields is conducted in the present paper. Extensive numerical simulations of a thermal shock process are carried out and validated by experimental data from a test rig. Based on the results the main heat transfer mechanisms are identified, that are crucial for the critical thermal stresses in transient operation. It is shown that these critical stresses mainly depend on local 3D flow structures.

With this understanding, a fast method to calculate the transient temperatures in a radial turbine was developed. It is based on a standard method for transient fluid/solid heat transfer. This standard method was modified in order to achieve a sufficient accuracy in the calculation of the investigated heat transfer processes. The results show a good agreement with experimental data and with the results of the extensive numerical calculations.

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