Aerospace Application Brief
Pennsylvania State University
The Department of Aerospace, Turbo Machinery Transfer Laboratory
The Turbo Machinery Transfer Laboratory studies fluid dynamics, heat transfer aspects of gas turbine engines, and convective heat transfer.
University Park, PA
Taking measurements from a hostile environment, such as the inside of
an engine, is a difficult process requiring specialized equipment,
ingenuity, and patience. It also requires powerful software tools that
can get the most of acquired data so that hazardous tests won't have to
be run twice. Brian Wiedner, a graduate student at the Engineering
department at Pennsylvania State University, has made such measurements
a routine part of his study of the heat transfer characteristics of gas
Turbine Component Data Analysis
Gas turbines are used throughout the world for highly efficient power
production because the fuel-to-electricity efficiencies of today's gas
turbines are the highest of any commercially available power source. A
gas turbine engine works by compressing air in a rotating centrifugal
or axial flow compressor; the air then enters a combustor where it is
mixed with fuel and burned. The resulting high pressure and
temperature exhaust gases are then expanded through the turbine. Much
of the recent progress in increased efficiency is due to the rise of
combustor exhaust temperatures: they are currently as high as 2600 F in
some high-performance military aircraft engines, and getting higher.
As combustor exhaust temperatures continue to rise, so must the thermal
limits of the turbine components.
Reliable Software Required
Brian Wiedner's group studies the physical mechanisms responsible for
heat transfer from the combusted air to the turbine, to contribute to
the effort in developing economical ways to increase the durability of
turbines. The equipment Wiedner uses to take air flow measurements
must be reliable under many kinds of test conditions, and his data
analysis software must be as well.