This investigation is aimed at the experimental determination of the location, the extent, and the modes of the laminar-to-turbulent transition processes in the boundary layers of a high pressure turbine rotor blade. The results are based on time-resolved, qualitative wall shear stress data which was derived from surface hotfilm measurements. The tests were conducted in the “Windtunnel for Rotating Cascades” of the DLR in Göttingen. For the evaluation of the influence of passing wakes and shocks on the unsteady boundary layer transition, a test with undisturbed rotor inlet flow was conducted in addition to full stage tests.

Two different transition modes led to a periodic-unsteady, multi-moded transition on the suction side. In between two wakes, transition started in the bypass mode and terminated as separated-flow transition. Underneath the wakes, plain bypass transition occurred. The weak periodic boundary layer features on the pressure side indicate that this surface was not significantly affected by passing wakes or shocks.

The acquired data reveals that the periodically disturbed suction side boundary layer is less susceptible to bubble bursting than the undisturbed flowfield. Thus, these blades may be subjected to higher aerodynamic loads. Accordingly, as in low pressure turbines, the unsteady effects in high pressure turbines may allow for a reduction of the number of rotor blades, with respect to the original design.

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