This paper presents a detailed experimental and numerical study on the effects of upstream step geometry on the endwall secondary flow and heat transfer in a transonic linear turbine vane passage with axisymmetric converging endwalls. The upstream step geometry represents the misalignment between the combustor exit and the nozzle guide vane endwall. The experimental measurements were performed in a blowdown wind tunnel with an exit Mach number of 0.85 and an exit Re of 1.5 × 106. A high freestream turbulence level of 16% was set at the inlet, which represents the typical turbulence conditions in a gas turbine engine. Two upstream step geometries were tested for the same vane profile: a baseline configuration with a gap located 0.88Cx (43.8 mm) upstream of the vane leading edge (upstream step height = 0 mm) and a misaligned configuration with a backward facing step located just before the gap at 0.88Cx (43.8 mm) upstream of the vane leading edge (step height = 4.45% span). The endwall temperature history was measured using transient infrared thermography, from which the endwall thermal load distribution, namely Nusselt number, were derived. This paper also presents a comparison with CFD predictions performed by solving the steady-state Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes (RANS) with Reynolds Stress Model using the commercial CFD solver ANSYS Fluent v.15. The CFD simulations were conducted at a range of different upstream step geometries: three forward-facing (upstream step geometries with step heights from −5.25 to 0% span), and five backward-facing, upstream step geometries (step heights from 0 to 6.56% span). These CFD results were used to highlight the link between heat transfer patterns and the secondary flow structures, and explain the effects of upstream step geometry.
Experimental and numerical results indicate that the backward-facing upstream step geometry will significantly enlarge the high thermal load region and result in an obvious increase (up to 140%) in the heat transfer coefficient level, especially for arched regions around the vane leading edge. However, the forward-facing upstream geometry will modestly shrink the high thermal load region and reduce the heat transfer coefficient (by ∼10%–40% decrease), especially for the suction side regions near the vane leading edge. The aerodynamic loss appears to have a slight increase (0.3%–1.3%) as a result of the forward-facing upstream step geometry, but is slightly reduced (by 0.1%–0.3%) by the presence of the backward upstream step geometry.