Penn State

Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering

Turbine Heat Transfer and Aerodynamics Group

START Facilities

Turbine Test Facility Additive Manufacturing Test Facility


Click here for a tour of the START Lab!


Turbine Test Facility

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Photographs of the turbine test section.

Penn State's test turbine facilities operate in a continuous duration mode. The flow is provided by two large compressors which, together, provide 25 lb/s of air up to 70 psia. The compressor discharge flow is split into the main gas path flow for the turbine as well as the secondary cooling air. Current operating temperatures for the main gas path are approximately 250F, but the rig has been designed to operate as high as 750F, which will be achieved through heating the main gas path air. A dynamometer water brake is used to absorb the energy produced by the turbine and maintain a constant rotational speed.

The test section includes a 1.5 stage turbine (vane/blade/vane) that operates at conditions representative of modern gas turbine engines. Additional features of the test turbine include: a magnetic bearing system that allows for a range of clearance scenarios; a telemetry system; and CO2 flow tracing capabilities.

The test turbine facility was designed to operate in a range that most closely replicates that of a modern turbine. Important non-dimensional Reynolds numbers, which govern the flow physics and heat transfer, are matched to that of the engine as illustrated below. The test turbine facilities illustrated below represent continuous duration facilities.

Operating range for the START test turbine relative to other facilities.

Microchannel Coupon Test Facility

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Microchannel test coupons constructed at CIMP-3D.

The START lab includes a test rig built to collect pressure drop and heat transfer measurements from test coupons that are constructed using direct metal laser sintering. A strong partnership has developed between START and Penn State’s CIMP-3D such that unique microchannels, only made possible through additive manufacturing, can be constructed and fully characterized. In addition to characterizing the pressure drop and heat transfer, the START personnel make full use of the characterization facilities at CIMP-3D including an optical profilometer and an industrial CT scanner to evaluate whether design tolerances are being met as well as surface roughness.