Unsteady flow structures have been observed and reported in a number of recent rim-sealing investigations. These unsteady flow structures will influence the cavity pressure distribution, therefore influence the sealing efficiency. As a result, it is important to determine the mechanisms of these unsteady flow structures and how they influence the hot gas ingestion and sealing efficiency. A two-sector axial rim seal model is used to carry out the numerical investigation. The simulation is performed using the URANS method by the commercial CFD code ANSYS CFX, in which the SST turbulent model is applied. The mechanism and influence of the unsteady flow structures are analyzed. It was found that two different types of unsteadiness are observed inside the wheel space cavity: radial large flow structures dominated by the mainstream pressure distribution and inertia wave, and circumferential Kelvin-Helmholtz vortexes induced by circumferential velocity discontinuous distribution. The number and rotating speed of the radial and circumferential flow structures can be calculated using a cross-correlation method, and it was found that they can lead to a deeper ingress. By increasing the sealing flow rate, the pressure fluctuation inside the wheel space cavity is suppressed and the rotating speed of the flow structures is deaccelerated; thus, the sealing flow stabilizes the flow inside the wheel space cavity. Meanwhile, the K-H vortices’ position is lifted by the increased sealing flow rate, and the strength of the K-H vortices is suppressed, thus the sealing efficiency inside the wheel space cavity is also improved.

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