Journal article

Mind the gap: a new insight into the tip leakage vortex using stereo-PIV

The tip leakage vortex (TLV), which develops in the clearance between the rotor and the stator of axial hydro turbines, has been studied for decades. Yet, many associated phenomena are still not understood. For instance, it remains unclear how the clearance size is related to the occurrence of cavitation in the vortex, which can lead to severe erosion. Experiments are here carried out on the influence of the clearance size on the tip vortex structure in a simplified case study. A NACA0009 hydrofoil is used as a generic blade in a water tunnel while the clearance between the blade tip and the wall is varied. The 3D velocity fields are measured using Stereo Particle Image Velocimetry (SPIV) in three planes located downstream of the hydrofoil for different values of the upstream velocity, the incidence angle and a large number of tip clearances. The influence of the flow conditions on the structure of the TLV is described through changes in the vortex intensity, core axial flow, vortex center position and wandering motion amplitude. Moreover, high-speed visualizations are used to highlight the vortex core trajectory and clearance flow alteration, turning into a wall jet as the tip clearance is reduced. The measurements clearly reveal the existence of a specific tip clearance for which the vortex strength is maximum and most prone to generating cavitation.

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