Improving Turbine Efficiencies Through Heat Transfer and Aerodynamic Research in the Steady Thermal Aero Research Turbine (START) Email Page
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Performer: Pennsylvania State University
Penn State’s START Lab Turbine Test Bay
Penn State’s START Lab Turbine Test Bay
Website: Pennsylvania State University
Award Number: FE0025011
Project Duration: 10/01/2015 – 09/30/2021
Total Award Value: $4,999,627
DOE Share: $3,600,000
Performer Share: $1,399,627
Technology Area: Advanced Turbines
Key Technology: Advanced Combustion Turbines
Location: University Park, Pennsylvania

Project Description

The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), in conjunction with its industry partner, Pratt & Whitney (P&W), will test new cooling improvements for the turbine rotating blade platform in order to increase machine efficiency and reduce costs. The scope of the project includes: (1) the planning and execution of the Steady Thermal Aero Research Turbine (START) facility and instrumentation upgrades to include a heated main gas path with full-span airfoils, long-wave infrared thermography, and unsteady pressures; (2) the design and manufacturing of a rainbow set of blades with baseline and advanced cooling configurations; (3) measurements of aerodynamics and heat transfer for baseline and advanced configurations over a range of cooling flows, Reynolds numbers, rotational Reynolds numbers, and flow angles; and (4) continual assessment of additive manufactured components to reduce costs and advance cooling designs. The project will focus on performing the first open-literature, consecutive comparisons of baseline and advanced cooling configurations in a test turbine with realistic engine hardware and flow conditions. The project will also allow direct comparisons of airfoil heat transfer measurements to be made in three relevant testing environments: low speed and temperature, high pressure temperature static conditions, and high velocity rotational conditions. This back-to-back comparison will provide data to guide the gas turbine industry in introducing these new cooling technologies into operating gas turbines. This work builds on previous NETL-Regional University Alliance (RUA) Contract FWP-2012.03.02.

Project Benefits

The START Lab at Penn State extensively pushes the boundaries of current experimental capabilities for gas turbine research because it is a continuous duration facility that operates at conditions representative of modern gas turbine engines. Penn State and P&W will improve the understanding of cooling characteristics of advanced cooling geometries as compared to state-of-the-art baseline cooling geometries and reveal a realistic path for reducing cooling air requirements having a direct impact on efficiency for utility-scale and aeroderivative gas turbines. The emphasis of this project is to advance cooling of gas turbine components in order to improve efficiencies and lower operational and manufacturing costs.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager Patcharin Burke:
Technology Manager Richard Dennis:
Principal Investigator Karen A. Thole:


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