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Researchers Use Tecplot Software to Help Design Cleaner Gas Turbine Engines

BELLEVUE, Wash.—Tecplot, Inc., a developer of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) visualization and analysis software for engineers and scientists, recently announced that researchers at the University of Stuttgart’s Institute of Aerospace Thermodynamics are using Tecplot 360 EX to help design cleaner gas turbine engines.

Working under a grant from the German Research Foundation and the Research Association for Combustion Engines, the researchers specifically are working to improve modern aircraft engines by changing the geometry of turbine blade endwalls, the region between two adjacent turbine blades.

The end-users of the research findings—companies that manufacture gas turbine engines—hope to incorporate the results into their engine development process. The goal is to make gas turbines more fuel-efficient and help reduce pollutants. If this is achieved, the researchers will aid engine manufacturers in building cleaner and more efficient gas turbines, which, in turn, will help the engine users save money by reducing fuel consumption.

To accomplish their goals, the Institute of Aerospace Thermodynamics researchers are using CFD to simulate airflow in gas turbines, and then analyzing heat transfer to the turbine blades and their endwalls. In gas turbines, fuel is burned in a combustion chamber, and the hot exhaust gases flow through the turbine rotor to produce power output. Since the exhaust gases are very hot, parts of the turbine rotor also become very hot and need to be cooled so they don’t melt. How hot these parts become depends not only on the temperature of the exhaust gases, but also on how the air flows around these parts.

“We look at how the geometry of the part should be so that the air flows around it in a ‘favorable’ way and the part becomes less hot,” said Sven Winkler, one of the research associates working on the project, in a press release. “For our research, the part being studied is called the endwall, which is simply the region between two adjacent turbine blades.”

Tecplot 360 EX Used as CFD Post-Processor
To find the most beneficial endwall geometry, Winkler and his associates analyze many different possible geometries by conducting CFD simulations of gas flow around the endwall and determining the heat-transfer from the flow to the endwall. The results of these CFD simulations are post-processed with Tecplot 360 EX.

“With Tecplot, we visualized how the flow looks using streamlines and vortex visualization, and what the temperature distribution on the endwall looks like due to this flow,” Winkler said. “In this vein, we could find an optimum geometry—one that has a favorable flow around it and causes the lowest possible temperature of the part.”

A part at a lower temperature needs less cooling air to protect it. Needing less cooling air improves the efficiency of the gas turbine. This will result in gas turbines that are more fuel-efficient and help to reduce pollutants, which are the ultimate goals of the project.

First released in 2014, Tecplot 360 EX is a memory-efficient CFD post-processor available for desktop computers. It is reported to require 92 percent less memory than earlier versions when loading modern high-fidelity CFD solutions. With Tecplot 360 EX, CFD engineers are able to load and analyze data once reserved for only the largest high-performance computing centers. The software’s speed—both computational and rendering—is achieved through Tecplot’s proprietary SZL technology, which is a combination of deferred data loading, exhaustive parallelization, and many other code optimizations.

Tecplot’s products allow customers using desktop computers and laptops to quickly analyze and understand information hidden in complex data. Tecplot ( has been awarded numerous Small Business Innovation Research contracts from DOD, NASA, DARPA, and the National Science Foundation. In 2012, the company was named a Red Herring Top 100 Americas Award winner.

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