Abstract

Optimizing safety and efficiencies is vital to turbomachinery design in the aerospace industry. However, aircraft engines subject to ingestion of airborne particle mixtures of unknown size and concentration have undergone unpredictable malfunction and power losses. Premature damage could be caused by increased erosion rates from mixtures with abrasive material. Similarly, corrosion rates could also increase for mixtures with corrosive material. Further, ingestions with melting points below the combustion exit temperature do melt, adhere to turbine blades, and thereby produce clogs and power losses. Additional blockage could be caused by accumulation of material of fluctuating volumes on blades and vanes. Such malfunction can be prevented by providing these engine systems with an on-board sensor capable of defining the particle size and size distribution and determining instantaneous and cumulative ingestion rates. This study demonstrates the methods used in the design of a fiber optic sensor to size the ingested material and measure its distribution and concentration directly in an engine’s flow path. A high-velocity, high-temperature contamination rig has been designed and built for testing the sensor and evaluating its functionality under engine conditions. Durability tests will be conducted to determine sensor lifespan and assess feasibility of incorporation in current turbomachinery for aircraft protection. Contaminant particle distribution and flow patterns in pipe cross section were studied through laser diffraction and light scattering, to enhance understanding of changes in sensor upon particle impingement.

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