Current trends in the automotive industry have placed an increased emphasis on downsized turbocharged engines for passenger vehicles. The turbocharger is increasingly relied upon to improve power output across a wide range of engine operating conditions, placing a greater emphasis on turbocharger off-design performance. An off-design condition of significant importance is performance at low turbine velocity ratios, since it is relevant to engine transient response and also to efficient energy extraction from pressure pulses in the unsteady exhaust flow. An increased focus has been placed on equipping turbochargers with mixed flow turbine rotors instead of conventional radial flow turbine rotors to improve off-design performance and to reduce rotor inertia.
A recognized feature of a mixed flow turbine is the spanwise variation of flow conditions across the blade leading edge. This is a consequence of the reduction in leading edge radius from shroud to hub, coupled with the increasing tangential velocity of the flow due to conserved angular momentum as the radius decreases. The result is increasingly positive incidence toward the hub side of the leading edge. The resulting region of highly positive incidence at the hub produces separation from the suction surface and generates significant loss within the rotor passage.
The aim of this study was to determine if the losses in a mixed flow turbine (MFT) could be reduced by the use of leaned stator vanes, which deliberately created a significant spanwise variation of flow angle between hub and shroud at rotor inlet, to reduce the positive incidence at the hub. The turbine performance with a series of leaned vanes was compared against that of a straight vane using a validated computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model. It was found that increasing vane lean improved turbine performance at all operating points considered. An increase of 3.2 percentage points in stage total-to-static efficiency was achieved at a key off-design operating point.
Experimental testing of a set of leaned vanes and the baseline vanes confirmed the advantage of the leaned vanes at all operating points, with an increase in measured efficiency of 2.6 percentage points at the key off-design condition. Unsteady CFD models confirmed the same level of improvement at this operating point.
The CFD and experimental results confirmed that the losses in an MFT can be reduced by the use of leaned stator vanes to shape the flow at rotor inlet.