Research in Engineering and Aviation

Aerodynamic performance effects of leading-edge geometry in gas-turbine blades

May 2010

Author(s): Hamakhan, I.A., & Korakianitis, T.

Journal:  Applied Energy, 87(5), pp. 1591-1601. DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2009.09.017


The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the advantages of the direct surface-curvature distribution blade-design method, originally proposed by Korakianitis, for the leading-edge design of turbine blades, and by extension for other types of airfoil shapes. The leading edge shape is critical in the blade design process, and it is quite difficult to completely control with inverse, semi-inverse or other direct-design methods. The blade-design method is briefly reviewed, and then the effort is concentrated on smoothly blending the leading edge shape (circle or ellipse, etc.) with the main part of the blade surface, in a manner that avoids leading-edge flow-disturbance and flow-separation regions. Specifically in the leading edge region we return to the second-order (parabolic) construction line coupled with a revised smoothing equation between the leading-edge shape and the main part of the blade. The Hodson–Dominy blade has been used as an example to show the ability of this blade-design method to remove leading-edge separation bubbles in gas turbine blades and other airfoil shapes that have very sharp changes in curvature near the leading edge. An additional gas turbine blade example has been used to illustrate the ability of this method to design leading edge shapes that avoid leading-edge separation bubbles at off-design conditions. This gas turbine blade example has inlet flow angle 0°, outlet flow angle −64.3°, and tangential lift coefficient 1.045, in a region of parameters where the leading edge shape is critical for the overall blade performance. Computed results at incidences of −10°,   −5°,   +5°,   +10° are used to illustrate the complete removal of leading edge flow-disturbance regions, thus minimizing the possibility of leading-edge separation bubbles, while concurrently minimizing the stagnation pressure drop from inlet to outlet. These results using two difficult example cases of leading edge geometries illustrate the superiority and utility of this blade-design method when compared with other direct or inverse blade-design methods.

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