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Chen Wang

Laboratory of Aerodynamics and Acoustics,

HKU Zhejiang Institute of
Research and Innovation and
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Hong Kong,
Pokfulam, Hong Kong
e-mail: chadwong@hku.hk

Lixi Huang
Laboratory of Aerodynamics and Acoustics,
HKU Zhejiang Institute of
Research and Innovation and
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Hong Kong,
Pokfulam, Hong Kong
e-mail: lixi@hku.hk

Passive Noise Reduction

for a Contrarotating Fan
There has been renewed interest in the contrarotating (CR) fan configuration in aviation
and other applications where size and weight are important design factors. Contrarotation recovers swirl energy compared with the single-rotor design, but this advantage
is not fully harnessed due to, perhaps, the issue of noise. This study explores passive noise
reduction for a small, axial-flow, CR fan with perforated trailing-edge for the upstream
rotor and perforated leading-edge for the downstream rotor. The fan is designed with
simple velocity triangle analyses, which are checked by 3D flow computations. The aerodynamic consequence and the acoustic benefit of such perforated blading are investigated
experimentally. The results show that there is a reduction of total pressure compared
with the baseline CR fan at the same rotating speeds, but this is easily compensated for
by slightly raising the rotating speeds. A reduction of 67 dB in overall noise is achieved
for the same aerodynamic output, although there is a moderate noise increase in the high
frequency range of 12.515.0 kHz due to blade perforations. The effect of inter-rotor separation distance is also investigated for the baseline design. A clear critical distance
exists below which the increased spacing shows clear acoustic benefits.
[DOI: 10.1115/1.4028357]


The aviation industry has been continuously trying to increase

the efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of aeroengines in order to cope with the increasing fuel prices and risk of
oil shortage and meet the requirements of ever more stringent
legislation on emitted pollutants and noise. The fuel consumption
of jet engines has decreased about 40% since 1960s. This reduction has been accomplished by the continuous improvement of
engine technology, leading to increased component efficiencies
and the change from turbojet to turbofan engines with increasing
bypass ratios [1].
1.1 CR Turbomachinery. With respect to the future engine
configuration, there has been renewed interest in the CR turbomachinery components including propellers, fans, compressors, and
turbines since such configuration has potential advantages over
the conventional design. A CR configuration can decrease the size
and weight of an aero-engine by eliminating stators, thus leading
to an increased efficiency and thrust-to-weight ratio. In addition,
the gyroscopic moment of the aero-engine can be decreased by
utilizing CR shafts. Furthermore, the ability to achieve high pressure ratios with decreased rotating speeds can reduce engine noise
and this can be significant in the case of CR fans [2]. The main
aerodynamic advantage of CR configuration stems from recovery
of the swirl velocity losses of the front rotor by the aft rotor. The
front rotor imparts a tangential velocity to the air as it passes by.
This swirl velocity acts as an additional angular velocity for the
aft rotor, without the power plant having to drive the aft rotor at a
higher angular velocity [3].
The review of Mitchell and Mikkelson [4] suggested that propulsive efficiency could be increased by 711% by introducing
CR propeller compared with an equivalent single-rotating propeller. Strack et al. [5] substantiated this suggestion through an analytical study which took into account performance, acoustics,
vibration, weight, cost, and maintenance. Study by Bradley [6]
showed that turboprops with these CR propellers can give specific
Corresponding author.
Contributed by the International Gas Turbine Institute (IGTI) of ASME for
publication in the JOURNAL OF TURBOMACHINERY. Manuscript received July 30, 2014;
final manuscript received August 6, 2014; published online September 30, 2014.
Editor: Ronald Bunker.

Journal of Turbomachinery

fuel consumption improvements of 2530% over an equivalent

technology turbofan.
Young [7] proposed the CR configuration for compression systems in early 1950s through studying a fan stage comprising of
CR rotors, which showed higher pressure rise and swallowing
capacity. The potential benefits of CR fans were also recognized
and explored in the work of other scholars [811]. Shigemitsu
et al. [1214] studied the performance and the internal flow condition of a CR small-sized axial fan at the designed flow rate and
the partial flow rate. They also clarified the unsteady flow conditions at the inlet and the outlet of each rotor with unsteady numerical results [15]. An experimental study on CR axial-flow fans
was carried out by Nouri et al. [16,17]. The results showed that
the efficiency was strongly increased compared to a conventional
rotor or to a rotorstator stage. The effects of varying the rotating
speed ratio and inter-rotor axial distance on the overall performances were also studied. The performance and detailed flow structure of a CR compressor under different rotating speeds and
typical working conditions were experimentally and numerically
investigated by Chen et al. [18]. For fans and compressors, the
high diffusion and issues with turbulence encountered in CR
designs is one of the reasons why most recent works employ flow
control mechanisms, such as boundary layer aspiration and splitters in order to have acceptable losses [2].
CR turbines represent the state of the art of actual and future
aero-engines, built for a considerable reduction of weight and fuel
consumption. In the 1950s, Wintucky and Stewart [19] predicted
an overall efficiency increase due to the elimination of the interstage stators through studying a two-stage CR turbine. Louis [20]
compared CR turbines with a conventional high reaction turbine
and revealed that similar stage loading coefficients can be
achieved with higher efficiency when utilizing the CR concept.
Lengani et al. [21] conducted an experimental investigation on the
unsteady interactions in a two-spool CR transonic turbine, which
was of limited number in the open literature. The test setup consisted of a high pressure stage, a diffusing midturbine frame with
turning struts and a shrouded low pressure rotor. Zhou et al. [22]
performed the aerodynamics design of a two-stage vaneless CR
turbine and discussed the optimal selection of velocity triangles
based on theoretical analysis. Besides, the CR concept was also
applied in wind turbines in order to extract more energy than the
theoretical Betz limit from wind. Appa and Forest [23] suggested

C 2015 by ASME
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that using a CR rotor system could increase power conversion efficiency of wind turbine by 40%.
1.2 General Rotor Noise Mechanism. A general expression
for the sound field of a point force in arbitrary motion was found
by Lowson [24] in 1965, followed by the expressions for the
sound fields of a point acoustic stress in arbitrary motion. The
research on small fan aero-acoustics was reviewed by Huang [25].
The general field of fan aero-acoustics spans from Gutins effort
in quantifying the steady loading noise in 1936, later known as the
Gutin noise, Lighthills acoustic analogy for aerodynamic sound
in 1952, to Ffowcs Williams and Hawkings equation (1969)
accounting for the effect of solid boundaries in arbitrary motion.
According to Blake [26], sound from rotors may be usefully
classified as self-noise and interaction noise. Interaction noise
means all sounds that result from the encounter of a rotating blade
with a time-varying disturbance in a reference frame moving with
the blade element. Self-noise means sound resulting from flow
over the blades themselves requiring no steady or unsteady inflow
distortions. Gutin noise is a form of self-noise, which is proportional to the steady loading on the rotor. Important causes of interaction noise are: rotorstator interaction in turbomachinery; blade
tip vortex interaction in helicopter acoustics; inlet flow disturbances caused by vortical flows and large-scale turbulence in forward
stators, rotors, and grilles; the interaction of rotor blades with
annular boundary layers in ducted rotors. Blake deduced the general form of acoustic spectrum formula of rotor blade forces
resulting from inhomogeneous inflow from theoretical free-field
acoustics of rotors. For example, concerning the sound radiation
due to the interaction of moving blades with the upstream blades,
their interaction can be regarded as the incident gust of velocity
(velocity defect or wake) caused by the viscous and potential
wakes of the upstream blades impinging on the downstream
blades. In general, this incident flow consists of a steady component on which both periodic (deterministic) and turbulent components are superimposed. A theory was also presented for the
discrete-frequency sound radiated by axial-flow fans and compressors in the work of Lowson [27] in 1970. The theory was based on
the noise radiation from the fluctuating forces on either a rotor or
a stator stage due to interactions with upstream components. Once
the wake geometry was defined, the theory enabled one to perform
calculations of the noise observed at any point and the result
agreed well with experiment. An analytically based model was
developed by Cooper and Peake [28] to study and predict rotor
stator interaction noise in aero-engines, in particular upstreamradiated noise, which included the important effect of mean
swirling flow on both the rotor wake evolution and the acoustic
The prediction of noise of traditional turbomachinery configuration characterized by the rotorstator stage has reached a relatively high standard as a result of much theoretical work and noise
tests of models. In contrast, the theoretical research into the noise
of CR turbomachinery can only date back to the 1980s. However,
in spite of the late start, there is a significant amount of literature
on that subject until now perhaps due to the revived interest in CR
configuration led by the increasingly stringent environmental regulation. A theoretical prediction scheme was developed for the
tone noise generated by a CR propeller with asymptotic approximation techniques in Parrys Ph.D. thesis [29] in 1988. In addition
to the theoretical formula, other literatures include experimental
measurement, numerical computation, and empirical prediction
results to address the noise of CR turbomachinery. Bradley [6]
performed a series of noise measurements on a CR propeller
driven aircraft. Both near and far-field data were obtained from
which it is possible to extract the tonal noise, resulting from the
aerodynamic interaction between the two propeller rows by a tone
splitting technique. Shin et al. [30] investigated the rotor wake/
vortex flow field generated in a CR unducted fan engine using
three-dimensional hot-wire anemometry. Their work provided a
031007-2 / Vol. 137, MARCH 2015

set of benchmark experimental aerodynamic data defining the

rotor wake and vortex structure, particularly in the tip region,
which can relate this observed flow structure to its acoustic signature. Polacsek and Barrier [31] performed an aero-acoustic simulation of interaction noise generated by a CR fan model, whose
main objective was to check the ability of advanced computations
to give a reliable evaluation of noise generation, propagation and
radiation. An original and fast semi-empirical method was proposed by Lewy [32] to predict radiated sound levels for CR open
rotors. Envia [33,34] summarized the recent results from the
NASAs effort to validate an open rotor noise prediction code
which is based on a high-blade-count asymptotic approximation
to the FfowcsWilliamsHawkings equation with the unsteady
aerodynamic simulation results as the input. The results suggested
that the noise trends were reasonably well predicted by this
approach. Peake and Parry [35] reviewed current scientific and
technological issues in the quest to reduce aero-engine noise,
including modern turbofans and fuel-efficient open rotors and
they also described a number of novel design modifications in
open rotor engine design for low noise.
1.3 Interaction Noise Abatement. Progress in interaction
noise reduction of blade rows has been revolutionary in the past
few decades through the classical methods including an appropriate choice of rotorstator blade count and increase of the rotor
stator axial distance, which allows the wakes generated by the
rotors to decay and dissipate before impinging on the stators. Crigler and Copeland [36] conducted an experimental study of a
single-stage axial-flow compressor to investigate the effect of
inlet-guide-vanerotor interaction on the noise radiation patterns
with a view toward alleviating the noise at its source. The results
showed how the radiation patterns were affected by the relative
number of rotor blades and guide vanes. An increase in axial
spacing of rotor and inlet guide vanes gave large reductions in
noise levels while spacing had little effect on the overall noise
radiation directivity patterns. Dittmar [37] proposed a concept for
a CR fan with reduced tone noise. A CR fan with 106 blades in
each rotor was investigated in this report. Increasing the blade
number of the fan shifted the tones to a higher frequency where
they were not weighted as strongly in the perceived noise level
calculation. The additional concept in this report was to use a CR
fan to shift the cut-on tone at twice the blade passing frequency
(BPF) to a frequency outside the rated range.
New approaches were mainly boundary layer suction (BLS)
and trailing edge blowing (TEB) as two hot areas of research in
recent years, which were removal or addition of fluid to reduce
the velocity defect of blade wakes. Guillot et al. [38] tested four
different TEB designs including trailing edge jets, trailing edge
slots, vortex generating jets, and suction side jets on a twodimensional rotor geometry. The results showed that the wake
could be significantly decreased with trailing edge jets and suction
side jets while the other two did not perform as well. Carter [39]
incorporated both suction side jets provided by a single supply
pressure source and BLS from an ejector pump on a high-turning
compressor stator. His experiments proved that using 1.6% of the
total mass flow, the total pressure loss coefficient was reduced by
65%. Naumann and Corcorans tests [40] showed that discrete jet
blowing from the trailing edge was the most successful way to
attenuate the wake on a simulated blade after examining several
different configurations for TEB, including a continuous slot at
the trailing edge, a set of discrete jets, and a set of discrete jets
with vortex generators. Leitch et al. [41] assessed the effect of
TEB on four upstream stators, which achieved noise reductions of
8.9 dB, 5.5 dB, and 2.6 dB, respectively in the blade passing tone
at corresponding three test speeds of 30,000; 50,000; and
70,000 rpm. In addition, TEB reduced the overall sound pressure
level (SPL) in every case. The addition of TEB from the four
upstream stators did not change the operating point of the fan, and
the mass flow added by the blowing was less than 1% of the fan
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mass flow rate. But such new approaches have several problems.
First, the complex inner chamber structure for air flow makes the
processing much more difficult and requires a considerable blade
thickness. Besides, they require additional auxiliary equipment,
that is, an air flow jet for TEB and a pump for BLS, respectively.
It is worth mentioning a related piece of work conducted by
Bae and Moon [42]. They numerically investigated the noise suppression potential of structural perforation in the rear portion of a
flat plate with blunt trailing edge and vortex shedding. Interesting
results were obtained but the acoustic mechanism treated was the
scattering of boundary layer instead of the rotorrotor (stator)
interaction noise for the current study.

Design of the CR Fan

Fig. 1

A small axial flow CR fan was designed with the velocity triangle method. The design was initiated with traditional one- and
two-dimensional analyses. The overall design parameters and the
design parameters of each rotor are given in Table 1. This fan was
designed at standard atmospheric condition to produce 5 m3/min
airflow and a 50 Pa total pressure rise. The hub radii, tip radii, and
axial chords of both rotors were selected according to the size of
the existing available motors on hand. The blade numbers for
each rotor were appropriately chosen as 7 and 5, respectively,
based on Huangs [25] elaborate discussion about the effect of
strut number on radiated noise of small cooling fans. The selection
of other design parameters fully incorporated Talbotec and Vernets work [43], which discussed a few key design parameters of
CR fans, focusing on the difference in contrast with conventional
fans, including the rotating speed ratio of front rotor to rear rotor,
the axial spacing between two stages, solidity and blade count.
The velocity triangles of the midspan section were determined
by some important empirical parameters like reaction degree.
Then the simplified radial equilibrium equation was solved to
determine the velocity triangles of other designate sections. The
two-dimensional blade profile was defined with the camber curve
and two side curves, that is, suction and pressure side curves. The
side curves were designed with reference to the NACA four-digit
series airfoils. The three-dimensional blade was stacked in the
spanwise direction with the center of gravity as the stacking point.
Pictures of the two rotors are shown in Fig. 1.

3 Numerical Simulation and Experimental

3.1 Numerical Simulation. A three-dimensional, steadyflow, numerical simulation of the designed CR fan was carried out
with the computational fluid dynamics software FLUENT. The computational domain and the mesh details in the front rotor domain
are given in Fig. 2. The inlet (marked with boundary 1) was
about 5Ca from the leading edge of the front rotor while the distance between the trailing edge of the rear rotor and the outlet
(marked with boundary 2) was about 9Ca to prevent boundary
Table 1 Design parameters
Pt (Pa)

Tt (K)

Q (m3/min)

DPt (Pa)




Rt (mm)
Rh (mm)
X (rpm)
D (mm)
Work distribution
Ca (mm)
Other constraints

Front rotor

Rear rotor

Axial inflow

Nearly axial exit-flow

Journal of Turbomachinery

CAD pictures of front (left) and rear (right) rotors

reflection from contaminating the results. The axial separation distance between the two rotors was 30 mm. In consideration of the
complexity of the three-dimensional blades, unstructured mesh
cells were constructed by GAMBIT and the mesh was refined
near the regions of both rotors. The total number of the mesh elements was around 3  106. Only one passage was computed for
both rotors to save CPU time and memory. Thus, the two sides
(marked with 4) of the computational domain were set as rotational periodical boundary conditions. The inlet was given the
total pressure and total temperature as design point and the outlet
was set as static pressure, that is, back pressure. The interfaces
(marked with 3) between two rotors were treated as the mixing
plane model.
The fluid regions of the front and rear rotors were set in two different rotating reference frames, rotating at 3500 rpm along Z
direction and 3000 rpm along Z direction, respectively. The hub
and blade surfaces were set as no slip stationary walls relative to
the corresponding rotating reference frames. The tip clearances
for the two rotors were both 1.5 mm. The shroud surfaces were set
to be a stationary wall in the absolute frame.
First, the flow was computed for 3000 steps with the gauge
back pressure of 1000 Pa to obtain a relatively reasonable flow
field. Then, this result was used as the initial flow field for other
back pressure cases. Five different gauge back pressure cases, 0,
10, 20, 30, 40 Pa were performed with RNG ke turbulence model.
The residuals of all cases fell below 105.
Since the two rotors both stretched from 25 mm to 58.5 mm in
the spanwise direction, the relative velocity vectors on sections of
r 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, and 55 mm were checked, respectively. The
results showed that the flow field was organized well without flow
separation. Figure 3 shows the relative velocity vectors on the
blade surfaces colored by relative velocity magnitude (m/s) for
gauge back pressure 0 Pa.
Cases with higher gauge back pressure were also performed.
However, their computational results are not shown or discussed
here for the following reasons. When the gauge back pressure was
larger than 60 Pa, the residuals could only drop to between 102
and 103. The convergence curves of mass flow rate at outlet
showed dramatic fluctuations with the iteration count. Relative
velocity vectors and static pressure contours indicated that there
existed large flow separations in both domains of the front and
rear rotors. This turning point (near 50 Pa) was likely to be related
to the design pressure rise, which was 50 Pa.
It is known that all turbulence models have their own empirical
model constants. For RNG ke model used in the simulation
above, C1e 1.42, C2e 1.68, and Cl 0.0845. In order to test
the effect of their values on the simulation results, these three constants were adjusted in their own specific ranges (C1e: 1.321.52;
C2e: 1.581.78; and Cl: 0.07450.0945). Comparison of results
indicated that this simulation case was not sensitive to the variation of the model constants as long as they were kept in the reasonable range. In addition, the simulation results with different
turbulence models in FLUENT including SpalartAllmaras model,
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Fig. 2 (a) Computational domain and (b) mesh details in the front rotor domain

Fig. 3

Relative velocity vectors on blade surfaces

standard ke model, RNG ke model, realizable ke model, standard kx model, and SST kx model were compared as well. The
results showed that these models all have basically the same static
pressure contours, relative velocity vectors at the section of
r 40 mm, and almost the same mass flow rate and total pressure
3.2 Experimental Measurement. The aerodynamic performance of this designed CR fan was studied in a ducted fan test rig,
which was built strictly according to ANSI/AMCA 210 standard
031007-4 / Vol. 137, MARCH 2015

[44]. This standard provides rules for testing fans, under laboratory conditions, to provide aerodynamic performance rating
Among the methods provided in the standard, a simpler one
was selected as indicated in Fig. 4. The fan tested was installed at
the inlet of the tube whose inner diameter was the same as that of
the fan, which was D 120 mm. Otherwise, a transformation
piece was required to serve as a transition from the diameter of
the tested fan to that of the tube. A bell-mouth was flush-mounted
at the inlet of the fan which can ensure more uniform incoming
flow. In addition, a flow straightener was mounted at the position
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Fig. 6 General picture of rotorrotor interaction

between two CR blade rows, and the corresponding spinning circumferential mode m, are addressed by the following expressions:
f12 jm1 B1 X1 m2 B2 X2 j;

Fig. 4 Fan test rig

of 3.5D downstream of the fan outlet to eliminate the nonaxial

flow components and to homogenize the out-going flow. Thus, the
pitot tube, which was used to measure the dynamic pressure Pv
and static pressure Ps, can obtain more reliable results downstream. The pressure losses due to straightener and duct wall friction were also taken into consideration according to some
empirical expressions provided in the standard. At the other end
of the tube, a throttling device was adopted to adjust the back
pressure. Two thermometers were placed at the outlet of the fan
and near the position of the pitot tube, respectively, to measure
their local temperatures. Six blocks of different thickness (4, 9,
14, 19, 24, and 30 mm) were made to adjust the axial spacing
between the two rotors.
The characteristic curve (also called PQ curve) of the fan at
the design rotating speeds, measured with the fan test rig
described above, is shown in Fig. 5 marked with triangles. In addition, the three dimensional Reynolds-averaged numerical simulation results with RNG ke model of the fan are shown in this
figure as well, marked with circles. The five circles represent
cases of five different gauge back pressures, 0, 10, 20, 30, and
40 Pa, from right to left side as described in Sec. 3.1. The computation and experiment agreed well in the segment of 040 Pa.

Noise Reduction

4.1 Contrarotation Interaction Noise. Figure 6 illustrates

the general picture of rotorrotor interaction for a CR fan. According to Polacsek and Barrier [31], the interaction frequencies f12

Fig. 5 The


Journal of Turbomachinery





m m2 B 2  m 1 B 1

where m1 and m2 are positive or negative integers, X1 and X2 are

their rotating speeds, respectively. The sign of m is determined
with the second row as the reference. Lewy [32] pointed out that
m1 and m2 always have the same sign because the key parameter
for sound radiation efficiency, the tip phase rotation Mach number
M/, is much larger than the tip rotational Mach number Mrot if
they have the same sign and is much smaller than Mrot if they are
of opposite sign.
In fact, the conventional expression of f12 and m for rotorstator
interaction can be generated by setting X2 0,
f12 jm1 B1 X1 j;

m m2 B2  m1 B1

From the comparison, we can see that rotorstator interaction

can be just regarded as a special case of contrarotation interaction.
They have the same spinning circumferential mode. The difference lies in the upstream blade row encounter with the downstream one with a higher frequency for the contrarotation
interaction due to their counter rotation against each other. Therefore, despite late start of theoretical research into noise of CR turbomachinery, it can be understood as a general case of the
mechanism of rotorstator interaction.
Blake [26] described the general qualities of rotorstator interaction noises in his book. It may be regarded as arising from circumferential spatial filtering in which samples of wake harmonics
from the upstream components are made by the downstream blading system at integer multiples of the downstream blade number.
By such filtering, the downstream blading selectively responds to
particular circumferential harmonics in its flow. The circumferential variations may be called velocity defects. Tinetti et al. [45]
elaborated the mechanism of rotorstator interaction noise. As a
rotor wake passes by and impinges on a stator, the effective angle
of attack and the velocity of the relative flow change, producing
transient fluctuations in the pressure field acting on the stator vane
surfaces. This unsteady pressure field generates a lift force that
fluctuates with a frequency equal to the blade passing rate, which
gives rise to a dipole-type noise source. They also mentioned that
fan noise reduction can be achieved either by reducing the amplitude of the wakes shed by the upstream rotors or by reducing the
response of the downstream stators to impinging wakes.

4.2 Blade Perforation. As discussed in Sec. 1.3, two recent

hot topics for interaction noise reduction, TEB and BLS, are both
based on reducing the velocity defect of upstream blade wakes
through wake filling with additional high-velocity fluid or removal
of the low-velocity fluid in the boundary layer. But they both have
their own complications and limitations, which have been discussed before. In the following work, we explore the effectiveness
of using blade perforation to suppress the unsteady interaction
force and hence noise radiation. We use perforated trailing edge
for the upstream rotor and perforated leading edge for the downstream rotor. Passive blade perforation can redistribute pressure
on the outer surface of blades by establishing communication
between the pressure and suction sides of the blade. For the
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caused by the coming wakes. It may also be understood as having

an effective separation distance larger than the baseline design
without blade perforation. Besides, it may move the possible transient flow-separation point to further downstream, which is equivalent to the BLS. This reduces the size of the separation zone, the
vortex strength and size; thus, the noise is also reduced. However,
high perforation ratio, large hole diameter, or inappropriate perforation position is likely to adversely influence or disturb the
steady-flow field and impair the aerodynamic performance.
The perforated rotors and a close-up of the perforated front
rotor are shown in Fig. 7. They are fabricated with the technique
of rapid prototyping. The diameter of the holes d is 0.7 mm, and
its perforation ratio r is about 3%. The perforation region of the
front rotor is distributed from its 85% chord to its trailing edge
while that of the rear rotor stretches from its leading edge to its
15% chord.

Fig. 7 CAD pictures of perforated front rotor (top left), perforated rear rotor (top right), and a close-up of the perforated
front rotor (bottom)

upstream rotor, trailing edge perforation may reduce the effective

blade chord length and smear the wake velocity defects impinging
upon the downstream blades. For the downstream rotor, proper
perforation at its leading edge region may reduce the gust loading

4.3 Separation Distance. Figure 8 shows the contours of relative velocity magnitude at the section of Z 2, 4, 9, and 14 mm
from the origin located at the trailing edge of the front rotor from
the previous computations, where Z denotes axial direction. It can
be easily found out that the wake was very strong within 9 mm
from the trailing edge of the front rotor. Beyond this distance, the
velocity defect decayed and dissipated quickly before impinging
on the downstream rotors. Note that the spanwise difference of
velocity defect was caused by the smaller axial chord on the tip
section in the design. Besides, the tip leakage vortex was also
noticed in Figs. 8(a)8(d). Figure 9 shows the contours of relative
velocity magnitude at the section of r 40 mm. The axial separation distance between the two rotors was 30 mm and the axial
chords of them were both 22 mm at this section. Since the fluid

Fig. 8 Contours of relative velocity magnitude (m/s) for axial positions of (a) Z 5 2 mm, (b)
Z 5 4 mm, (c) Z 5 9 mm, and (d) Z 5 14 mm, Z 5 0 being the trailing edge of the front rotor

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Fig. 9 Contours of relative velocity magnitude (m/s) for r 5 40 mm, with mixing plane at 16 mm
from the trailing edge of the front rotor

Fig. 10 Variation of SPL with axial spacing

Fig. 11 Spectra comparison of the side noise

regions of the front and rear rotors were set in two different rotating reference frames as described in the Sec. 3.1, the dividing
plane (also the mixing plane) was located at Z 16 mm from the
origin. We can clearly see how the wakes of the front rotor
decayed and dissipated downstream.
The acoustic experimental results are shown in Fig. 10, and
they indirectly validate the computational predictions. It gives the
measured noise at the fan inlet and the lateral side in the anechoic
chamber for different axial spacing between the trailing edge of
the upstream rotor and the leading edge of the downstream rotor,
here denoted as S. We can see that the SPL decreased exponentially with S. When S was larger than 9 mm, it has little effect on
the noise level. On the contrary, the interaction noise was very
sensitive to S in the range of 09 mm. From the spectral comparison of the lateral noise given in Fig. 11, the most prominent peak
(1567 Hz) was greatly reduced when S increased from 4 to 9 mm.
In fact, the fan generated very unpleasant sharp noise, which was
related to the most prominent interaction frequency in its spectrum when S 4 mm. In contrast, the spectrum of S 9 mm was
more broadband. Therefore, the axial spacing of the following

study was fixed at 4 mm for the purpose of suppressing such

unpleasant interaction noise with the important gain in spacing.

Journal of Turbomachinery

4.4 Noise Comparison. Since the noise comparison would be

meaningful only under the same working condition, the aerodynamic unloading effect of the blade perforations is studied first. In
the initial design, apertures of diameter 0.7 mm were used and further adjustment and optimization are left to future studies. The
design without blade perforations at the design rotating speeds is
regarded as the baseline design. The characteristic curves of the
baseline design and perforated blades at the design rotating speeds
are given in Fig. 12, marked with triangles and circles, respectively. It can be seen that there was a less than 8 Pa reduction of
total pressure in the whole measurement range by blade perforations, which was expected. The dotted curve marked with squares
was the improved characteristic curve of perforated blades after
the voltage of the front rotor was increased by around 0.6 V, thus
increasing its rotating speed from 3500 rpm to 3600 rpm. From
Fig. 12, we can see that the aerodynamic performance of the
MARCH 2015, Vol. 137 / 031007-7

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Fig. 12 Characteristic curves of baseline and perforated


Fig. 14 Spectral comparison of baseline and perforated blades

at 330 deg

Fig. 13 Comparison of SPL directivity for baseline and perforated blades

Fig. 15 SPL distribution in different frequency range

perforated blades was improved to the same level as that of the

baseline design when the rotating speed of the front rotor was
raised to 3600 rpm.
The noise of the baseline design and the design with perforated
blades, whose axial spacing S were both 4 mm, was measured in
the anechoic chamber with a sound level meter under the condition of the same aerodynamic performance but different rotating
speeds. The sound was measured at an interval of 30 deg along a
circle of 1 m in diameter on the central horizontal plane with the
fan at the center. A noise time sequence of 30 s was recorded for
each direction with the sampling frequency of fs 48 kHz. For
better comparison, the results, rendered as a polar plot of SPL in
dB versus angle, are shown in Fig. 13. Here, 0 deg represented the
fan inlet while 180 deg denoted the outlet. We can see the two fan
designs almost had the same noise directivity and the perforated
blades had over 67 dB reduction in all directions.
The spectra at 330 deg for the two cases were given in Fig. 14.
The first BPF of the front rotor at design rotating speed was 3500/
60  7 408.3 Hz denoted as f1 while that of the rear rotor was
3000/60  5 250 Hz denoted as f2. When the rotating speed of
the front rotor was raised to 3600 rpm, its first BPF became
f1* 3600/60  7 420 Hz. The most prominent peaks for baseline design and perforated blades appeared at 2f1 3f2 1567 Hz
and 2f1* 3f2 1590 Hz, respectively. The SPL dropped by more
031007-8 / Vol. 137, MARCH 2015

than 7 dB at the prominent peaks. It should be noted that there

was an obvious noise increase in the frequency range near
15 kHz.
Figure 15 shows the noise comparison in different frequency
ranges at the 330 deg position. It can be seen that the noise was
reduced mainly in the frequency range below 5 kHz through blade
perforation. The reduction magnitude was 8 dB for 02.5 kHz and
5.6 dB for 2.55.0 kHz. The phenomenon of noise increase mainly
happened in the range of 12.515 kHz, whose magnitude is
6.8 dB. This SPL increase was related to the increased turbulent
flow caused by the perforation. In other frequency ranges, the
SPLs were basically unchanged.


The reported idea of perforated trailing edge for the upstream

rotor and perforated leading edge for the downstream rotor for CR
fans was experimentally studied, which indicated a good result of
noise reduction under the condition of the same aerodynamic performance. The design of the blade perforations was very preliminary without any optimization. Nevertheless, the following
conclusions can be drawn from the initial studies:
(1) The acoustic design of perforated trailing edge for the
upstream rotor and perforated leading edge for the
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downstream rotor had aerodynamic penalty as expected,

which was a less than 8 Pa reduction of total pressure, the
baseline pressure rise being 50 Pa.
The perforated blades had over 67 dB overall noise reduction at all directions around the fan center compared with
baseline design under the same working condition and such
perforation did not change the radiated noise directivity.
The spectrum at position of 330 deg indicated a most prominent peak at 2f1 3f2 and the SPL of this peak dropped by
more than 7 dB through blade perforation.
The magnitude of noise reduction through blade perforation
was different in different frequency ranges. The noise was
reduced mainly in the frequency range below 5 kHz, 8 dB
reduction for 02.5 kHz, and 5.6 dB reduction for
2.55.0 kHz. A phenomenon of noise increase was encountered mainly in the range of 12.515 kHz probably related
to the increased turbulent flow through perforations.
The overall SPL decreased exponentially with the separation distance between the two rotors. When it was larger
than 9 mm, the axial spacing had little effect on the noise

The project was supported by a China National Key Basic
Research Scheme, or 973 scheme (2012CB7202). The first
author also acknowledges the support of the Ph.D. studentship
from the University of Hong Kong.


blade count
axial chord
diameter of the blade aperture
diameter of flow passage
sampling frequency
interaction frequency
spinning circumferential mode
static pressure
inlet total pressure
dynamic pressure
volume flow rate
given radius
hub radius of blades
tip radius of blades
axial spacing between two rotors
inlet total temperature
total pressure rise
perforation ratio
rotating speed

1 parameters of front rotor
2 parameters of rear rotor

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