Several methods are available for the optimization of basic design parameters and the preliminary efficiency prediction of axial flow turbine stages. However, their application is often questionable for stages having low specific speed and/or small volume flow rates. In particular, the question may arise whether a better performance is achieved by a partial admission, impulse stage or by a full admission reaction stage having lower blade height.

The paper firstly reviews the available loss correlation methods applicable to partial admission turbines, then a comparison is performed between the efficiency achievable by partial and full admission stages designed for the same operating conditions. The turbine design procedure for both options is fully automatized by an efficiency optimization method similar to the one described in previous authors’ papers.

The results of calculations are presented in the paper as a function of similarity parameters (specific speed, size parameter, expansion ratio). It is found that the results obtained with different correlations are relatively similar for “conventional” turbine stages (low expansion ratio, moderate size parameters), while important differences take place for very small sizes and/or in presence of important compressibility effects.

The presented results can be useful: 1) to decide whether selecting full or partial admission solutions; 2) to optimize the degree of admission and the other basic design parameters, and 3) to predict with reasonable accuracy the stage efficiency.

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