Gas Turbine Engines – Turbine Section (Part One)

in Aircraft Engines

The turbine transforms a portion of the kinetic (velocity) energy of the exhaust gases into mechanical energy to drive the gas generator compressor and accessories. The sole purpose of the gas generator turbine is to absorb approximately 60 to 70 percent of the total pressure energy from the exhaust gases. The exact amount of energy absorption at the turbine is determined by the load the turbine is driving (i.e., compressor size and type, number of accessories, and the load applied by the other turbine stages). These turbine stages can be used to drive a low-pressure compressor (fan), propeller, and shaft. The turbine section of a gas turbine engine is located aft, or downstream, of the combustion chamber. Specifically, it is directly behind the combustion chamber outlet.

Figure 1-60. Turbine inlet guide vanes.

Figure 1-60. Turbine inlet guide vanes.

The turbine assembly consists of two basic elements: turbine inlet guide vanes and turbine blades. [Figures 1-60 and 1-61] The stator element is known by a variety of names, of which turbine inlet nozzle vanes, turbine inlet guide vanes, and nozzle diaphragm are three of the most commonly used. The turbine inlet nozzle vanes are located directly aft of the combustion chambers and immediately forward of the turbine wheel. This is the highest or hottest temperature that comes in contact with metal components in the engine. The turbine inlet temperature must be controlled or damage will occur to the turbine inlet vanes.

Figure 1-61. Turbine blades.

Figure 1-61. Turbine blades.

After the combustion chamber has introduced the heat energy into the mass airflow and delivered it evenly to the turbine inlet nozzles, the nozzles must prepare the mass air flow to drive the turbine rotor. The stationary vanes of the turbine inlet nozzles are contoured and set at such an angle that they form a number of small nozzles discharging gas at extremely high speed; thus, the nozzle converts a varying portion of the heat and pressure energy to velocity energy that can then be converted to mechanical energy through the turbine blades.

The second purpose of the turbine inlet nozzle is to deflect the gases to a specific angle in the direction of turbine wheel rotation. Since the gas flow from the nozzle must enter the turbine blade passageway while it is still rotating, it is essential to aim the gas in the general direction of turbine rotation.

The turbine inlet nozzle assembly consists of an inner shroud and an outer shroud between which the nozzle vanes are fixed. The number and size of inlet vanes employed vary with different types and sizes of engines. Figure 1-62 illustrates typical turbine inlet nozzles featuring loose and welded vanes. The vanes of the turbine inlet nozzle may be assembled between the outer and inner shrouds or rings in a variety of ways. Although the actual elements may vary slightly in configuration and construction features, there is one characteristic peculiar to all turbine inlet nozzles: the nozzle vanes must be constructed to allow thermal expansion. Otherwise, there would be severe distortion or warping of the metal components because of rapid temperature changes. The thermal expansion of turbine nozzles is accomplished by one of several methods. One method necessitates loose assembly of the supporting inner and outer vane shrouds. [Figure 1-62A]

Figure 1-62. Typical turbine nozzle vane assemblies.

Figure 1-62. Typical turbine nozzle vane assemblies.

Each vane fits into a contoured slot in the shrouds, which conforms to the airfoil shape of the vane. These slots are slightly larger than the vanes to give a loose fit. For further support, the inner and outer shrouds are encased by inner and outer support rings, which provide increased strength and rigidity. These support rings also facilitate removal of the nozzle vanes as a unit. Without the rings, the vanes could fall out as the shrouds were removed.

Another method of thermal expansion construction is to fit the vanes into inner and outer shrouds; however, in this method the vanes are welded or riveted into position. [Figure 1-62B] Some means must be provided to allow thermal expansion; therefore, either the inner or the outer shroud ring is cut into segments. The saw cuts separating the segments allow sufficient expansion to prevent stress and warping of the vanes.

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