1998 Turbomachinery Committee Best Paper Award: An Experimental Study of Tip Clearance Flow in a Radial Inflow Turbine

[+] Author and Article Information
R. Dambach, H. P. Hodson

Whittle Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

I. Huntsman

Dept. of Mech. Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

J. Turbomach 121(4), 644-650 (Oct 01, 1999) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2836716 History: Received February 01, 1998; Online January 29, 2008


This paper describes an experimental investigation of tip clearance flow in a radial inflow turbine. Flow visualization and static pressure measurements were performed. These were combined with hot-wire traverses into the tip gap. The experimental data indicate that the tip clearance flow in a radial turbine can be divided into three regions. The first region is located at the rotor inlet, where the influence of relative casing motion dominates the flow over the tip. The second region is located toward midchord, where the effect of relative casing motion is weakened. Finally, a third region exists in the exducer, where the effect of relative casing motion becomes small and the leakage flow resembles the tip flow behavior in an axial turbine. Integration of the velocity profiles showed that there is little tip leakage in the first part of the rotor because of the effect of scraping. It was found that the bulk of tip leakage flow in a radial turbine passes through the exducer. The mass flow rate, measured at four chordwise positions, was compared with a standard axial turbine tip leakage model. The result revealed the need for a model suited to radial turbines. The hot-wire measurements also indicated a higher tip gap loss in the exducer of the radial turbine. This explains why the stage efficiency of a radial inflow turbine is more affected by increasing the radial clearance than by increasing the axial clearance.

Copyright © 1999 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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