Aircraft are operating at increasingly high-altitudes, where decreased air density and engine power settings have led to increasingly low Reynolds numbers in the low-pressure turbine portion of modern-day aeroengines. These operating conditions, in parallel with highly-loaded blade profiles, result in non-reattaching laminar boundary layer separation along the blade suction surface, increasing loss and decreasing engine performance. This work presents an experimental investigation into the potential for integrated leading-edge tubercles to improve blade performance in this operating regime. A turn-table cascade test-section was constructed and commissioned to test a purpose-designed, forward-loaded, low-pressure turbine blade profile at various incidences and Reynolds numbers. Baseline and tubercled blades were tested at axial chord Reynolds numbers at and between 15 000 and 60 000, and angles of incidence ranging from −5° to +10°. Experimental data collection included blade surface pressure measurements, total pressure loss in the blade wakes, hot-wire anemometry, surface hot-film measurements, and surface flow visualization using tufts. Test results showed that the implementation of tubercles did not lead to a performance enhancement. However, useful conclusions were drawn regarding the ability of tubercles to generate stream-wise vortices at ultra-low Reynolds numbers. Additional observations helped to characterize the suction surface boundary layer over the highly-loaded, low-pressure turbine blade profile when at off-design conditions. Recommendations were made for future work.

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