In a modern gas turbine power plant, the axial exhaust diffuser accounts for up to 10% of the generator power. An unshrouded rotor, due to its highly energetic tip clearance flow, improves the pressure recovery characteristic of the exhaust diffuser, while the power production within the blading suffers a loss as a result of the tip leakage flow. In this paper, these conflicting trends are thermodynamically investigated and nondimensional expressions are derived which facilitate the task of a gas turbine system designer. Conservatively, 1% thermal efficiency gain results from elimination of the last rotor tip clearance flow. The corresponding increase in thermal efficiency of a modern gas turbine power plant due to enhanced diffuser pressure recovery is less than one percent.

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