July 8, 2013
We first ventured into the refrigerated test chamber W8 where we saw a huge single spool turbine rig. Controlled to either act as a high pressure or low pressure turbine, the rig operates at relatively low pressures (about 40psi) and temperatures (maybe 700 degrees Celsius). The reason for these conditions is that at normal operating conditions, the inside of the turbine is impossible to test in with the current technology of probes and sensors and reading the measurements inside of the turbine is what this facility focuses on. To compensate, they match the important non-dimensional values such as Reynolds number and Mach number.
The data they collect is used to validate Computational Fluid Dynamics code and make computer simulations more accurate and the energy extracted is put back into the grid to prevent waste. We were then led next door to see a compressor rig. Already operating at near atmospheric pressure, no special air feed was required to run tests. The purposes for this rig are similar to the turbine – to collect as much data as possible and verify code. Ducking around various pieces of equipment, the group was able to see where all the probes and sensors were connected.