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10th conference on Power System Engineering, Thermodynamics & Fluid Flow - ES 2011 June 16 - 17, 2011, Pilsen, Czech



The paper describes the design and performance of an atypical Curtis stage. The difference lies in the flow direction which is not axial like in traditional stage of this type but radial, centripetal. Authors present the idea and the purpose of application of this solution. One dimensional analysis is presented along with the numerical flow simulations (CFD). Comparison is made between the presented radial case with its axial equivalent. Constructional issues are also discussed. Keywords: steam turbine, Curtis stage, CFD

The history of steam and gas turbines goes back to 19th century. Since then, rapid development in this field has taken place and many different turbine types have been designed. Some of them became more popular and some did not prove to be efficient and effective enough. In this paper, a turbine stage similar to the Curtis stage is presented. The stage kinematics is very similar but the difference lies in the flow direction, which is not axial but radial, centripetal. The performance analysis along with constructional issues are discussed.

2. Double stage turbines

The idea of the double stage turbines is to add a velocity stage after a pressure stage. This solution allows to use the kinetic energy that remains in the steam leaving the rotor. The first machine created according to this philosophy came from the American designer Curtis and that is why the combination of pressure and velocity stages are usually referred in the literature as the Curtis stage. The advantages of the Curtis idea are very clear and include the construction simplicity and good performance over the wide range of rotational speeds. The biggest disadvantage of the solution lies mainly in the low efficiency when compared with the reaction and even impulse stages.

Fig. 1: Schichau turbine[1][3]

Over time many turbines with similar kinematics appeared. Well known examples include the Schichau and Electra turbines. In machines of this kind there is no extra blade row for the


velocity stage but there is a guide vane redirecting the steam back to the rotor (Fig.1). The difference between those two solutions is in the flow direction. Schichau assumes the axial configuration whereas Electra the radial one. Both solutions are, however, less efficient than the original Curtis stage mainly due to the kinematics change along with the velocity drop. The turbine discussed in this paper consists, like the Curtis stage, of two blade rows but the flow direction is radial. This machine is very similar to the high pressure part of the Zvonicek turbine that was built in the Bohmisch Mahrischen Maschinen Fabryk in Prague (Fig. 2)[2].

Fig. 2: Zvonicek turbine[2]

2. The experimental micro-power plant

The turbine described in this paper is designed to work in the experimental micro-power plant of the hybrid type, which is being built at the Institute of Turbomachinery, TUL. This micro-power plant (Fig. 3) consists of two cycles: the upper steam cycle and the bottom cycle, whereby the latter uses the HFE 7100 medium. Main elements of the upper, high-temperature cycle are: a steam boiler, a steam turbine with a condenser, a water tank with a circulation pump. The bottom low-temperature cycle consists of: an evaporator, an ORC turbine, an ORC condenser, a reservoir of the HFE 7100 medium with a circulation pump, a well pump for the water cooling the ORC condenser. The steam boiler fuelled with a light oil is the source of heat in the steam cycle. The boiler outlet saturated steam has the following parameters: temperature 453 K and pressure 10 bar. The total mass flow rate of steam is equal to 0.045 kg/s. In the steam turbine, the energy of steam is converted into mechanical energy that is finally absorbed by a water brake. The turbine steam downstream parameters are inlet parameters for the common element of both the cycles. This is the heat exchanger that is supplied with heat by the medium from the upper cycle and transfers heat to the HFE 7100 medium of the bottom cycle.

Radial Curtis Stage

Fig. 3: A concept of the experimental test stand

Conditions of the HFE 7100 medium at the outlet from the heat exchanger are characterized by the following parameters: temperature 363 K and pressure 2.428 bar. The total mass flow in the bottom cycle is 0.58 kg/s. The medium with such parameters drives the ORC turbine where it is expanded to the pressure of 0.3415 bar and its temperature falls to the value of 325 K.

3. One dimensional analysis

Both the kinematics of the turbine and the turbine dimensions were computed by means of onedimensional method. The parameters at the inlet and outlet of the turbine were set according to the presented power plant cycle. They were gathered in the Table 1.
Table 1 Mass flow rate Inlet total pressure Inlet temperature Outlet static pressure 0.045 kg/s 9.30 bar(a) 177.85 C 3.00 bar(a)

The set of non-dimensional parameters was defined to find the solution. The flow angle at the nozzle outlet 1 was set to 11.8. The analysis shows that bigger values of that angle result in lower efficiency of the machine. Small mass flow rate of the steam forced an application of the partial arc supply equal to 1/60 only, which was a compromise between the height of the blade and the 1 angle. Because of the partial arc supply the degree of reaction for both stages, 1 and 2 respectively, was set to 0. The nominal rotational speed was 7500 rev/min. In respect to the performance of the bearings it would be beneficial to decrease this value, but this would enlarge the diameter D1 and the general size of the machine. The next assumed parameter was the velocity factor ku, which means the ratio of u1/c1. Its value was set to 0.25, which corresponds to the most efficient kinematics for the Curtis stage [5]. Because the flow direction is radial, the diameters ratios = D2/D1 = D3/D2 = D4/D3 were also set with their value equal to 0.87. To estimate the flow efficiencies, the general loss model was used according to [5]. Because the rotor is of the open type one, additional losses due to leakages through the blade tip clearances occur. Their values were determined from the formula given in [9]. The width of the


gaps above the blades was assumed to be 0.5 mm. The obtained losses of the power were 0.25 kW and 0.03 kW for first and the second rotor wheel, respectively. The resulted internal power of the first stage was equal to 4.51 kW and of the second stage to 0.74 kW. That gave together 5.25 kW of internal power (including the tip clearance leakage losses). The diameter at the first rotor inlet D1 was computed to be 376.9 mm with the blade height equal to 10.8 mm. The channel in the radial direction is divergent; therefore, the ratios of the meridional velocities in every blade row are close to 1 (that is the usual value for the meridional velocities according to [6]). The small arc supply means that its influence on the energy losses should not be omitted. The power loss due to small arc was computed according to [8] and its value was 2.1 kW. The losses due to friction were calculated to be 0.6 kW according to [8] or 0.45 kW [6]. The total external losses result in about 2.6 kW in total.

4. Numerical simulations (CFD)

Numerical simulations were performed in order to verify the one-dimensional analysis. Because of the supersonic flow in the nozzle the special convergent-divergent channel was designed. The rotor blades were designed to fulfill the kinematics. For the second stator, the profile was selected from [7]. It was in fact designed for the axial machines but in this case it worked well. A view of the entire blading system is presented in Fig. 4.

Fig. 4: Blading system

The simulations were performed by using the Ansys CFX code. The whole computational domain consisted of four blade channels (one channel for one blade row) with the assumption that the flow through the turbine is periodic. The interfaces between the channels were set as Stage, which means the circumferential averaging of the parameters across the interface. The total number of nodes in the domain did not exceed 1.1 million. The computational mesh was presented in Fig. 5.

Radial Curtis Stage

Fig. 5: Computational mesh

The steam was treated as dry gas described by the real gas equation of state (from IAPWS-IF97 International Association for the Properties of Water and Steam - Industrial Formulation 1997). The Shear Stress Transport (SST) was used as the turbulence model. The set of boundary conditions included: total pressure and total temperature at the inlet and static pressure at the outlet. Fig. 6 and 7 show the distribution of the static pressure and velocity vectors at 50% of the channel height. In the first rotor channel a significant separation occurred, which could not be entirely eliminated.

Fig. 6: Pressure distribution at the 50% of channel height.

Fig. 7: Velocity vectors distribution at the 50% of channel height.

The internal power of the stages computed from the blade torque was 4.81 kW and 0.64 kW, respectively, which gave the total internal power of 5.45 kW.

5. Comparison of the radial and axial Curtis Stage.

An attempt has been made in order to compare the performance of the presented radial turbine with its axial equivalent. It was assumed that the axial variant would have the same blade heights and the same mean diameter D1, Fig. 8.


Fig. 8: Radial stage nad its axial equivalent.

The one-dimensional analysis has shown that the performance of both cases is very similar. The internal powers for the axial turbine were 4.63 kW for the first stage and 0.54 for the second one. The total internal power was equal to 5.17 kW. The comparison of kinematics for both cases was shown on Fig. 9.

Fig. 9: Comparison of kinematics.

4. Construction and technology

The construction of the experimental steam turbine was assumed to fulfill three conditions: - to satisfy the thermodynamic assumptions; - compact design; - low production costs. The turbine casing was designed for being machined from two steel plates. The nozzle (N in Fig. 10) and the interstage stator blades, S, were milled within the body of one of the plates. The steam inlet, steam outlet and the liquid drain pipes were welded pipes ended with collar connections. Such construction eliminates the chance for any modifications of the nozzle and stator blades but simplifies the turbine casing and decreases its costs. The main turbine casing plate, 2, contains a replaceable insert with the labyrinth sealing, 3. The replaceable insert was made of a soft metal to minimize the labyrinth clearance and, in case of the labyrinth contact with the rotor disc, to prevent the rotor from damage. That labyrinth sealing was applied in order to minimize the axial force acting on the bearings. Minimization of the axial force together with low rotational speed allow for application of the simple and cheap ball bearings, 6. Separation of the bearings from the hot working fluid (120C) was a difficult issue. To overcome this problem, the labyrinth sealing 7 was applied in front of the bearings. It minimizes the steam leakage. Also, a thrower ring was used to direct the steam leakage to a special collecting pocket provided in the bearings casing, 4. It separates the bearings from the steam flowing through the sealing. The torque from the shaft is transferred to the water brake by

Radial Curtis Stage

means of the coupling, 5. The turbine is fixed to the conctruction frame with screws applied to the bearings casing, 4.

Fig. 10: Experimental steam turbine. 1- turbine casing, front part, 2- turbine casing, rear part, 3- insert with labyrinth sealing for the rotor disc, 4- bearings casing, 5- coupling, 6- radial supporting bearings, 7thrower ring, 8- shaft labyrinth sealing, 9- steam inlet, 10- steam outlet, N- steam inlet nozzle, RI- first stage rotor blades, S- interstage blades, RII- second stage rotor blades.

The paper describes the experimental double stage steam turbine. The presented case is different from a typical Curtis stage because it is designed as a centripetal machine. The assumptions and results of one-dimensional analysis were given along with numerical study (CFD). The radial turbine was compared with its axial equivalent with result of a similar performance. Also constructional aspects were briefly described. The further research step will include investigation of the performance of the small, hybrid power plant that is currently being built.

[1] GUNDLACH W., R. Fundamentals of turbomachinery and power generation systems, WNT, Warsaw 2008 (in Polish) [2] STODOLA A. Steam and gas turbines vol. 1. Peter Smith, New York 1945 [3] ANTCZAK ., FIJAKOWSKI T., KLONOWICZ P. Design of low-power turbines for the experimental micro-power plant of the hybrid type, 9th Conference on Power System



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Engineering, Thermodynamics & Fluid Flow - ES 2010 June 17 - 18, 2010, Pilsen, Czech Republic Hybrid geothermal power plants using biomass and sources of low enthalpy. Report on the project granted by the Ministry for Science and Higher Education, Project no. R06 009 01, Institute of Turbomachinery, TUL, Lodz 2009 CHODKIEWICZ R. wiczenia projektowe z turbin cieplnych, WNT Warszawa 2008 PRZYBYLSKI R., LIGIER A. Poradnik inyniera. Mechanika, tom II, rozdz. XII Turbiny parowe, WNT Warszawa 1969 DEJCZ M.E., FILIPOV G. A., LAZARIEW L.J. Atlas profiliej rieszetok osiewych turbin, Moskwa, Maszinostrojenie 1965 PERYCZ S. Turbiny parowe i gazowe, Polska Akademia Nauk, Instytut Maszyn Przepywowych, Wrocaw 1992 DYGADO Z., YWISKI M., OTY J., SZCZECISKI S., WIATEREK R. Zespoy wirnikowe silnikw turbinowych, WK, Warszawa 1982

MSc KLONOWICZ Piotr, TU Lodz, Institute of Turbomachinery, 90-924 d, ul. Wlczaska 219/223, Poland, +48 42 631 24 66, MSc FIJAKOWSKI Tomasz, TU Lodz, Institute of Turbomachinery, 90-924 d, ul. Wlczaska 219/223, Poland, +48 42 631 24 53, MSc ANTCZAK ukasz, TU Lodz, Institute of Turbomachinery, 90-924 d, ul. Wlczaska 219/223, Poland, +48 42 631 24 53, PhD MAGIERA Radomir, TU Lodz, Institute of Turbomachinery, 90-924 d, ul. Wlczaska 219/223, Poland, +48 42 631 24 66,