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Strength of Materials, Vol. 40, No.

5, 2008

GAS TURBINE BLADE SERVICE LIFE ASSESSMENT WITH ACCOUNT OF FRACTURE STAGE V. A. Bazhenov, A. I. Gulyar, S. O. Piskunov, and A. A. Shkryl The numerical simulation of creep, continuum fracture zone evolution and crack propagation in a gas turbine blade uner cyclic loading conditions have been performed using a semianalytic finite-element method. The blade basic life (before fracture zone appearance) and additional resource (concerned with fracture process) of a blade have been determined. Keywords: creep, damageability, crack, fracture, finite element method. Assessment of service life of a stationary gas turbine involves assessment of lifetimes of its components, in particular, rotor blades. Blades operate under high temperature conditions; as a result, the material deformation is accompanied by a creep process and damage accumulation in the material. The blade basic life t * failure-free operating life is defined as an instant of time when at a given point in a blade there arises an initial continuum fracture zone that further grows, for a time period t I* , to result in a crack-like defect. At the next stage, which lasts
* t II , the crack grows to a critical size. Thus, the blade total life is given by a sum of the basic life t * , which is * represented by a time period to the formation of a continuum fracture zone, and the additional life t I* + t II that

UDC 539.375

depends on the propagation of the continuum fracture zone to form a crack-like defect and subsequent growth of the main crack. The values of t * and t I* are calculated using the relations of the continuum fracture mechanics.
* Determination of the additional life t II calls for the relations of the discrete fracture mechanics the crack

mechanics. The investigations for this type of blade [1] demonstrated that the additional resource, i.e., the time period till the formation of crack-like defect, is about 5% of the basic life. For the evaluation of the blade total life it is important to find the second component of the additional resource. Among the factors that cause a blade to fail, the cyclic loading is the main one [2]. The crack growth process under cyclic loading is most commonly described by the Paris formula [3] dl = C ( K I ( l)) b . dN (1)

Considering the intricate shape of the crack front and the essentially spatial pattern of the stress-strain state (SSS), the integration of equation (1) in the majority of cases is carried out by numerical methods. Numerical solution of the life assessment problem for cracked bodies involves a discrete representation of the deformation process as a totality of steps in time or external load. At each step, we determine SSS in a cracked body, calculate parameters of the fracture mechanics and define the crack front configuration. The number of nodes of a kinked curve that models a crack front in finite-element (FE) discretization is found from the convergence conditions for the numerical solution of the SSS problem for a cracked body and the conditions for providing a required accuracy of the determination of stress intensity factors (SIF) at the crack front Research Institute for Structural Mechanics, Kiev, Ukraine. Translated from Problemy Prochnosti, No. 5, pp. 28 36, September October, 2008. Original article submitted October 25, 2007. 518 00392316/08/40050518 2008 Springer Science + Business Media, Inc.

Fig. 1. Modeling of crack growth. points. At each step of the problem the SIFs are computed by a direct method. The procedure for finding crack-tip SIF by a direct method for prismatic bodies using a semianalytic finite-element method (SFEM) was described earlier in [4]. During the numerical integration of Eq. (1) at each front point i (i =1, ..., k ), the characteristic crack size i i i lm at each step m is given by that for a previous step lm 1 including the increment lm at the m step,
i i i lm = lm 1 + lm .


The crack size increments at the front points in N loading cycles are found from the SIF values and, in view of (1), given by
i lm = C ( K I ( l i )) b N m .


i Using the lm values, we compute the new coordinates of the crack front nodes as well as other node of the

FE model. Then, the mesh domain is reconfigured by shifting the mesh nodes by a value associated with the crack length increment at this step. Thus, it is only the FE model geometry which is changed, while the model topology remains the same. In this case, it is assumed that at each step the crack growth at the front points im follows a line orthogonal to a segment that joins the front points ( i 1) m and ( i +1) m (Fig. 1) [5]. The efficiency of solution of the crack growth modeling problem depends on the efficiency of FE approximation of a crack by SFEM and algorithms of computation of the fracture mechanics parameters [5] as well as on the efficiency of algorithms of solving the SFEM sets of equations and integrating the crack growth equations (1). Furthermore, when applying SFEM, even a linear problem is solved through an iterative process to be performed at each step of the solution of the crack growth modeling problem. Thus, the issue of improving the efficiency of algorithms for solving the SFEM sets of equations takes on particular importance as the necessity to model the crack growth leads to the multiple solution of sets of equations of large dimensionality. In turn, the efficiency of the algorithm for solving the sets of equations can be raised through the application of an initial approximations method, the rational choice of the modeling technique for the crack front propagation and associated reconfiguration of the FE mesh both in the vicinity of the crack tip as well as over the entire discrete FE model. 519

When using SFEM at each of M steps of the problem solution the set of equations is solved by an algorithm that combines the block iteration method and the load-step integration,
j j 1 j 1 {U } = {U } + [ K ]1 ({Q} {R } ),


j j where {U }1 and {U } are the vectors of expansion coefficients for nodal displacements in the iterations j 1 j and j, respectively, is the relaxation parameter, {Q} is the external load vector, {R }1 is the vector of nodal

reactions, which is determined in the iteration j 1, and [ K ] is the stiffness matrix calculated at the mth step. Formula (4) describes an iteration cycle that incorporates an arranged cycle for the retained expansion terms ( = 0, ..., L). The convergence condition for the iterative process at a step is written as






j j where {u} and {u} are respectively the increment and accumulated values of amplitude displacements in the

iteration j, and is the adopted accuracy parameter for the solution of the nonlinear equation set, = 10 4 10 9 . To test the proposed procedure and study its efficiency, we considered a problem on propagation of a central crack in a square plate under cyclic loading (Fig. 2a). The plate material has the following characteristics: b = 4 and C = 1. 63 10 10 . A reference solution was obtained through direct integration of equation (1) by formula (3) with = 0. The SIF values were calculated by the formula K I = z l, where z = z ( l) are the refining coefficients determined at each integration step for a respective crack length [6]. Figure 2a illustrates the dependence of the crack length on the number of loading cycles for various steps of the SFEM solution versus the reference solution. The present findings demonstrate that for the purpose of modeling a crack growth with an accuracy within 2% the loading process should be split into at least 60 steps. In assessment of service life for real objects, this number may be increased one order of magnitude or more. For discrete models containing 100,000 unknown quantities and up, the modeling of the fracture process is computationally intensive. The scope of computations can be reduced by means of the approaches that allows for an evolutionary trend of SSS variations in the course of crack propagation due to cyclic loading. Since a crack increment per one step of the problem solution is small, so is the SSS variation at two successive steps. Therefore, the stressed state at the next step can be extrapolated by setting it equal to the previous one. Moreover, variations of the stiffness matrix coefficients are also insignificant and thus do not have to be computed at every step. Hence, when solving the set of equations by SFEM, at each step one can use the values of SSS parameters and stiffness matrix coefficients as obtained at preceding steps. The use of these two techniques reduces the computation costs by more than one order of magnitude (Fig. 2b). Furthermore, the number of problem steps can be reduced by half for = 0. 5. The reliability of the proposed algorithm has been verified through the solution of a problem on the growth of an elliptically shaped crack in an infinite body (Fig. 3a). The material characteristics were as follows: b = 4 and C = 1. 63 10 10 . The resulting circular contour (Fig. 3b) of the propagating crack is consistent with the stable form of growth of an elliptically shaped crack as mentioned by G. P. Cherepanov. The blade at hand is an intricately shaped space body whose characteristic dimensions in height are much larger than the cross-sectional dimensions. The blade is twisted about its vertical axis, has a cross-sectional area variable in height, and is subject to a centrifugal load. Based on the data obtained by a 3D FEM, we located the weakest section of radius R 0 , where the crack initiation can be expected. In the vicinity of this section a fragment measuring 0. 94R 0 < R < 1. 06R 0 (Fig. 4a) was singled out, where the stress distribution was the most nonuniform. 520

l, cm

a , %

N 10 8 , cycles

b Fig. 2. Curves of crack growth in a plate (a) [(1) reference solution; (2) 3 steps; (3) 6 steps; (4) 15 steps; (5) 30 steps] and the effect of using techniques to reduce computation costs (b) (solid line initial approximation method; dashed line reduction of computations of the stiffness matrix). The stress distribution under elastic deformation, which was obtained by discretization of the blade fragment with heterogeneous prismatic finite elements with a variable cross-sectional area and using the proposed techniques to allow for the blade twist, is identical to that calculated by 3D FEM [1]. To determine the blade additional life under cyclic loading, the initial crack-like defect was considered as a semielliptical crack with the following dimensions: a = 0. 3 mm and c = 0. 5 mm (Fig. 4b). The initial crack location in the cross section was defined earlier [1] based on the results of solution of the continuum fracture problem. The convergence of the SIF distribution along the initial crack front depending on the discrete-model parameters is achieved by approximating the crack with 12 finite elements (Fig. 4b). To describe the crack growth we used the following constants for the Paris formula: C = 2. 2 10 10 (m/cycle) and b = 5. 6. The parameter K is 5% K max . The convergence of the results of the crack growth modeling in terms of the number of cycles N per step was studied a FE mesh (Fig. 4b). Figure 5a shows the dependence of the crack characteristic size along the ellipse minor semiaxis on the number of cycles N for various N . It is evident that the convergence is achieved when taking a load step N = 0. 5 10 7 cycles. A further decrease in N leads to refinement of life time by less than 1%. 521

a b Fig. 3. An infinite body with an elliptical crack: (a) FE model; (b) upon N 10 8 loading cycles.

Fig. 4. Analytical model of the blade (a) and discrete model of the blade in horizontal projection (b). To study the solution convergence in mesh models, we solved the problem by means of meshes of 24 and 48 finite elements along the crack front, the step in the number of cycles being identical. It turned out that a mesh of 12 finite elements along the crack front would suffice for modeling a crack growth with the number of loading cycles smaller than 8 10 7 . To model a further crack growth one will need a mesh of 24 finite elements along the crack front. The crack grows with an acceleration, with its characteristics dimensions along its semiaxes are almost doubled in the range N = 8. 0 10 8 8. 5 10 8 cycles and increased by almost one order of magnitude throughout the entire loading process. Upon 8. 5 10 8 loading cycles, the crack has propagated to more than half the thickness of the blade airfoil (Fig. 5b). It takes the crack less than 0.125 10 8 cycle to run through the remaining portion of the airfoil thickness. * The results obtained show that the additional life t II = 8 10 7 , which is 12% of the basic operating life which is defined as a time period till the formation of an initial macroscopic defect. Considering that solving a crack growth modeling problem is a cumbersome procedure, some simplified models are used in practice for the life assessment of a cracked body. In our particular case, the life of a cracked blade can be approximately evaluated based on the results of solution of a crack growth problem for a plate with an 522

N 10 7 , cycles

a, cm

Fig. 5. Convergence of results of the crack propagation modeling in terms of the number of cycles per step (a) and variation (in cm) of the crack front configuration (b): (1) N = 1 10 7 cycles; (2) N = 0. 5 10 7 cycles; (3) N = 0. 25 10 7 cycles. K, MPa m

lcr , cm Fig. 6. A comparison of SIFs in the elliptical crack and in the plate with an edge crack: (1) K I (c); (2) K I ( a ); (3) K I (2D ). edge crack: the initial crack length is equal to the initial size of the minor semiaxis of the elliptical crack a 0 = 0. 3 mm, and the plate width to the blade airfoil thickness t = 5. 3 mm. The data of solution of this problem in the two-dimensional statement demonstrate that the life time is more than one order of magnitude shorter than that calculated in the 3D statement. The results were analyzed based on a study of the SIF variation vs. the crack length (Fig. 6). The SIF values obtained in the 2D statement are much larger than K I ( a ) on the major semiaxis and K I ( c) on the minor semiaxis of the elliptical crack, which were calculated in the 3D statement. This discrepancy is attributable to the stress redistribution during the elliptical crack growth and to the related decrease in stress concentration in the vicinity of the elliptical crack front in comparison to the edge crack tip zone in a plate. To solve 3D crack-growth problems by FEM calls for the use of discrete models with about 300,000 unknowns, the number of solution steps runs into the hundreds and each step has to deal with respective sets of equations. It takes a long time to perform this scope of computation by means of currently available software packages, while the use of the FE base of SFEM reduces the computation time almost by half, thus demonstrating the efficiency of the iteration algorithms involved. 523

Conclusions. The algorithms developed allow modeling of a crack growth to the dimensions that exceed the initial crack size by almost than one order of magnitude. A combination of the proposed techniques and the efficient iteration algorithms for solving SFEM sets of linear equations makes it possible to solve similar problems, with a computation time being one order of magnitude shorter than that taken the currently available software packages. REFERENCES 1. 2. 3. 4. V. A. Bazhenov, O. I. Gulyar, S. O. Pyskunov, and O. S. Sakharav, Semianalytic Finite-Element Method in Fracture Problems for Spatial Bodies [in Ukrainian], KNUBA, Kyiv (2005). L. B. Getsov, Materials and Strength of Gas Turbine Parts [in Russian], Nedra, Moscow (1996). P. Paris and F. Erdogan, A critical analysis of crack propagation laws, Tekhn. Mekh., Ser. D, No. 4, 6068 (1963). O. I. Gulyar, S. O. Pyskunov, O. S. Sakharov, and O. O. Shkryl, Determination of stress intensity factors for cracked prismatic bodies, in: Strength of Materials and Structural Theory [in Ukrainian], KNUBA, Kyiv (2003), Issue 73, pp. 7384. W. Lee and J. Lee, Successive 3D FE analysis technique for characterization of fatigue crack growth behavior in composite-repaired aluminum plate, Comp. Struct., 66, 513520 (2004). Fracture Mechanics and Strength of Materials. Handbook in 4 volumes. Vol. 2. Stress Intensity Factors for Cracked Bodies [in Russian], Naukova Dumka, Kiev (1988).

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