Nowadays, steam turbines in conventional power plants deal with an increasing number of startups due to the high share of fluctuating power input of renewable generation. Thus, the development of new methods for flexibility improvements, such as reduction of the start-up time and its costs, have become more and more important. At the same time, fast start-up and flexible steam turbine operation increase the lifetime consumption and reduce the inspection intervals. One possible option to prevent these negative impacts of a flexible operation is to keep the steam turbine warm during a shut down and a startup. In order to do so, General Electric has developed a concept for warm-keeping respectively pre-warming of a high-pressure (HP) / intermediate-pressure (IP) steam turbine with hot air: After a certain cool-down phase, air is passed through the turbine while the turbine is rotated by the turning engine. The flow and the rotational direction can be inverted to optimize the warming operation. In order to fulfill the requirements of high flexibility in combination with reduced costs and thermal stresses during the start-up, a detailed investigation of the dominant heat transfer effects and the corresponding flow structure is necessary: Complex numerical approaches, such as Conjugate Heat Transfer (CHT), can provide this corresponding information and help to understand the physical impact of the flow phenomena.
The aim of the present work is thus to understand the predominant heat transport phenomena in warm-keeping operation and to gain detailed heat transfer coefficients within the flow channel for blade, vane and shrouds. A multitude of steady-state simulations were performed to investigate the different warm-keeping operation points. Data from literature was recomputed in good agreement to qualitatively validate the numerical model in windage operation. Furthermore, the steady-state simulations were compared with transient Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations to verify that the flow in warming operation can be simulated with a steady-state case. The transient calculations confirm the steady-state results. A variation of the mass flow rate and the rotational speed was conducted to calculate a characteristic map of heat transfer coefficients. The Conjugate Heat Transfer simulations provide an insight into the flow structure and offer a comparison with the flow phenomena in conventional operation. In addition, the impact of the flow phenomena on the local heat transfer was investigated.