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Vibration Analysis of Centrifugal Fans

RBMWare AMS Machinery Manager

Vibration Analysis of Centrifugal Fans

by Robert J. Sayer, P.E. Principal Engineer Sayer & Associates, Inc.

ABSTRACT:

Vibration of fans and the structural systems supporting same are a common problem in industry. Frequently, the excitation of a resonance in either the rotor (fan wheel & shaft) or the supporting structural system is the cause of the problem.

Identification of the source of a vibration problem is paramount to any root-cause vibration analysis. This paper includes a discussion of the dynamic forces produced by air handling systems containing fans , such as unbalance, blade pass pressure pulsation, belt forces, structural asymmetry, disk skew, static and dynamic misalignment, and aerodynamic forces (turbulence, stall and surge). The nature and frequency of these dynamic forces are summarized to assist the vibration analyst in the identification thereof.

Once the source of the vibration problem is identified, the dynamic characteristics of the structural/ mechanical system must be defined. Natural frequencies in either the rotor or the structural supporting system could lead to excessive vibrations and in some cases catastrophic failure.

This paper includes a discussion of the natural frequencies and mode shapes associated with the rotor (shaft critical, wheel wobble, umbrella modes, etc.) and structural supporting systems (pedestals, structural framework, isolator bases, and foundations).

DYNAMIC FORCES:

Mechanical systems containing centrifugal fans can be subjected to many types of dynamic forces, both mechanical and aerodynamic. Some of these dynamic forces are normal, such as rotor unbalance, blade pass pressure pulsation, and belt forces. Many others, such as rotating stall, surge, and disk skew are due to either poor mechanical or aerodynamic design.

The following includes a list and brief discussion of some of the possible dynamic forces developed in air handling systems containing centrifugal fans:

ROTOR IMBALANCE;

This is the most common dynamic force produced by a fan. It is impossible to balance a rotor perfectly. Therefore, rotor imbalance exists to some degree in all fans. Even a new fan rotor will contain some residual unbalance.

Many industrial fans operate in abrasive atmospheres resulting in the rotor wearing or particulate build-up on the fan wheel that increases the unbalance condition. In these cases, periodic cleaning and field balancing is required to minimize the dynamic forces and vibrations produced by the unbalanced rotor.

If a resonance in either the rotor or structural supporting system is excited by the unbalance force, then field balancing, if even possible, will provide only a short-lived temporary solution to the vibration problem. For resonance problems, the structural dynamic characteristics of either the rotor or structural supporting system should be modified so that the natural frequency does not coincide with the rotational frequency of the fan.

Figure 1 contains a typical frequency spectrum for vibration caused by an unbalanced rotor.

spectrum for vibration caused by an unbalanced rotor. FIGURE 1: Typical Spectrum (Unbalance) The frequency of

FIGURE 1: Typical Spectrum (Unbalance)

The frequency of the dynamic force caused by an unbalanced rotor will be equal to 1x the rotational speed of the fan. It is a pure harmonic force and, thus, will not contain any harmonic multiples unless some other condition, such as mechanical looseness is also present. The magnitude of the dynamic force produced by an unbalanced rotor will increase with the square of the rotational speed (F=mr2).

The above characteristics for rotor imbalance can be used to diagnose whether excessive vibration is simply caused by a large unbalance force or the result of the excitation of a resonance. Since the dynamic force produced by an imbalance is harmonic (sinusoidal), it remains constant at any given speed. It is a force vector that rotates with the fan wheel. Thus, the difference in phase between the maximum vibration in the horizontal and vertical directions should be nearly 90o. If the phase is either 0o or 180o, excessive vibrations are most probably due to resonance.

Since the magnitude of the dynamic force produced by the imbalance remains constant at any given speed, the magnitude of vibration in the vertical direction should not be significantly different than the horizontal direction. Differences in the directional stiffness (mechanical impedance) of supporting structures will result in a horizontal/vertical vibration ratio slightly different than unity (1.0). Large horizontal/vertical vibration ratios are indicative of resonance.

MECHANICAL LOOSENESS;

When the dynamic force produced by fan imbalance is applied to a mechanical system that contains a Looseness (broken or loose anchor bolts, cracked structures, excessive clearance), an impacting occurs once per revolution of the rotor. The FFT of a repetitive impact consists of a response at the primary frequency of repetition and responses at harmonic multiples thereof. Figure 2 contains a typical frequency spectrum for vibration caused by Looseness.

FIGURE 2: Typical Spectrum: (Looseness) Generally, the dynamic force produced at the primary frequency of

FIGURE 2: Typical Spectrum: (Looseness)

Generally, the dynamic force produced at the primary frequency of repetition will be the largest. The magnitude of the dynamic forces produced at harmonic multiples will decrease in magnitude as the order of the harmonic increases. This characteristic can be used to identify resonances in mechanical systems that are subject to dynamic forces developed as a result of mechanical Looseness or other repetitive impact forces. A resonance should be expected if the vibration at a harmonic multiple exceeds the vibration at the primary frequency. For the above example, the response @ 12x is greater than that at 1x rotational speed of the fan. A resonance in the supporting base was suspected at 12x rotational speed of the fan.

Mechanical Looseness can also be characterized by a truncation in the time waveform of the vibration signal. The harmonic distortion introduced by this truncation will also result in harmonic multiples in the frequency spectrum.

MISALIGNMENT;

There are several forms of misalignment including:

The pre-load from a bent shaft or improperly seated bearing.

An offset of centerline of the fan shaft relative to the shaft of the drive equipment (motor, gearbox, etc.).

Shaft Angular misalignment.

Figure 3 contains a typical frequency spectrum for vibrations caused by misalignment.

FIGURE 3: Typical Spectrum (Misalignment) Misalignment is generally characterized by elevated levels of vibration at

FIGURE 3: Typical Spectrum (Misalignment)

Misalignment is generally characterized by elevated levels of vibration at 2x the rotational speed of the fan accompanied by high axial vibration. A phase relationship between bearings of 180o in the axial direction is also indicative of misalignment.

These symptoms do not guarantee that the problem is related to alignment. For example, a high 2x vibration component can be developed as a result of the excitation of a resonance by a harmonic multiple developed as a result of mechanical Looseness. Also, large axial vibration levels could be due to the flexibility of bearing supports in the axial direction.

Misalignment can also produce dynamic forces at 1x the rotational speed of the fan. In these cases, it is commonly misdiagnosed as an unbalanced rotor.

BLADE PASS PRESSURE PULSATIONS;

Pulsation of dynamic pressure at blade pass frequency (number of blades x fan speed) is always present. Levels can vary markedly with load. Usually blade pass pressure pulsation is not a problem. However, the higher order natural frequencies of the fan wheel and the local natural frequencies of the fan blades can be very sensitive to blade pass pressure pulsation. Excessive vibration of fan wheel components by pressure pulsation is very difficult to diagnose. It cannot be measured directly with an accelerometer since the vibrating mechanical component is rotating. Strain gages mounted to the fan wheel are generally used to detect problems associated with the excitation of natural frequencies by blade pass pressure pulsation. Data is transmitted from the strain gage to data acquisition equipment via telemetry or slip rings.

The magnitude of pressure developed at blade pass frequency can be changed by adjusting the distance between the cut-off, located in the housing, and the fan blades.

DYNAMIC MISALIGNMENT;

Dynamic misalignment is a term given to a condition wherein secondary dynamic forces are developed due to the

deformation of the supporting system that causes the motor to vibrate out-of-phase with the fan. This usually occurs in either very flexible supporting structures or due to resonance. Dynamic misalignment is usually totally unrelated to static misalignment and, thus, cannot be identified by standard alignment techniques. An operating deflection shape (ODS) animation can be used to identify this condition.

The dynamic misalignment forces will cause an increase in the dynamic forces produced at 1x rotational speed of the fan and can also produce a component of dynamic force at 2x fan speed.

ROTATING STALL;

Rotating stall is an aerodynamic condition, usually the result of poor inlet and/or outlet conditions. For example, fan wheels oversized to meet future expansion plans may operate with dampers nearly closed. It is not a very common condition for centrifugal fans, but has been identified several times by this Author.

Another condition that can initiate a rotating stall is an inlet damper that is installed backward. This will introduce a swirl that opposes the rotational speed of the fan. At lower flow rates, this can cause a rotating stall condition to develop.

this can cause a rotating stall condition to develop. FIGURE 4: Rotating Stall Cell Propagation Figure

FIGURE 4: Rotating Stall Cell Propagation

Figure 4 illustrates the mechanism for the development of a rotating stall condition in a centrifugal fan.

The boundary layer on the suction side of the fan blade in Passage #1 separates due to a reduction in air flow

caused by increased system resistance and/or unfavorable inlet conditions. This results in a backflow of air along

the suction side of the blade.

The flow condition in Passage #1 results in a total reversal of flow in the next passage. (Passage #2)

The flow pattern creates a relative vortex in the rotating system that causes another change in the direction of air flow in Passage #3. Now a more favorable entry condition is established and the cycle is repeated in Passage #4.

The frequency of a dynamic force produced by a rotating stall condition can vary between .67x (full stall condition) and 1.0x (partial stall) fan speed. Rotating stall does not produce a pure harmonic force and, thus, dynamic forces at harmonic multiples of the primary stall frequency are also produced. A fan wheel experiencing a full rotating stall

condition will produce dynamic pressures @ .67x, 1.33x, 2.0x, 2.67x, 3.33x,

the rotational speed of the fan.

The magnitude of the pressure pulsation produced by a rotating stall condition is usually very low. However, the

resultant dynamic force on the ductwork of an air handling system can be very large due to the large surface area upon which the pressure pulsation is applied. Therefore, rotating stall can best be identified by acquiring vibration data from the ductwork.

The Author has identified rotating stall as the cause of structural failure of ductwork in several air handling units. If the natural frequency of the ductwork matches any of the harmonic multiples of the stall force, then dynamic magnification of vibration can lead to the fatigue failure thereof.

SURGE;

Surge is a low frequency condition that occurs when a fan operates near the peak of the characteristic curve. Low frequency noise and vibration accompany this condition. The fan surges as it moves back and forth along the characteristic curve, constantly attempting to achieve a stable operating condition, but unable to do so due to the instability at which it is forced to operate.

DISK SKEW;

Dynamic forces can be developed as a result of a fan wheel being skewed relative to the shaft. The backplate of a fan can be skewed due to either installation or fabrication error. A skewed backplate is one that is not perpendicular to the theoretical axial centerline of the shaft.

A skewed disk or backplate can also be the result of the deflection of the shaft that causes the backplate of the

wheel to tip away from the plane established by a line perpendicular from the theoretical shaft centerline. This condition can occur for fan wheels that are eccentrically mounted on very flexible (small diameter) shafts.

The flexural deformation of the backplate itself can also contribute to disk skew forces. All backplates will distort to some degree due to the weight of the blades & shroud.

A skewed fan wheel can result in harmonic distortion of the rotational response of the fan wheel. Significant

vibration at 2x rotational speed can result in the rotor, although this vibration does not always translate as a large vibration component at the bearings. Thus, it is difficult to detect.

ASYMMETRIC STIFFNESS;

In certain cases, the stiffness of a rotor can be dependent upon the rotational position (phase) of the rotor. An

example would be a small shaft with a large keyway. The flexural stiffness of the shaft would be dependent upon

whether the keyway was at the top, side or bottom of the shaft.

As the shaft turns, a rotating impedance vector is established. The weight of the rotor acting upon the changing impedance (stiffness) will result in the deflection of the shaft to change twice per revolution. The frequency of the dynamic force produced by the structural asymmetry of the shaft will be equal to 2x fan speed.

Asymmetric stiffness problems typically occur in fan rotors containing a small diameter shaft and a relatively large keyway located mid-span between the bearings (center hung DWDI fans).

FORCES FROM BELTS, MOTORS & GEARBOXES;

In addition to the dynamic forces produced by the centrifugal fan, any vibration study should also consider the

response of the fan and/or supporting structures to dynamic forces produced by the drive equipment including motors, gearboxes and belts. An in-depth discussion of these other forces is beyond the scope of this paper.

LOOSE ROTORS;

Differential thermal expansion between the fan wheel hub and the shaft, in high temperature applications, can lead to looseness of the wheel on the shaft. The frequency spectrum for this transient condition commonly contains

high 1x response accompanied by significant broad band responses.

DYNAMIC FORCES (CONCLUSION);

The presence of any of the dynamic forces summarized above can be detected by frequency analysis of vibration data. In some cases, excessive vibrations resulting from any of these dynamic forces can either be minimized or eliminated by changing the mechanical and/or aerodynamic characteristics which lead to the production of the dynamic force. However, in many cases the dynamic forces are the result of the normal operation of the fan and the excessive vibrations are the result of the excitation of a natural frequency (resonance). RESONANCE (ROTORS);

WHEEL WOBBLE MODE;

The basis for the terminology used for the mode shapes associated with the natural frequencies of a fan wheel is obvious. For example, the principal mode shape for the fan wheel is generally referred to as the wobble mode. This mode is characterized by a flexural deformation of the backplate. The axial displacement at the top of the fan wheel is out-of-phase with the bottom of the fan wheel. This gives the appearance of the fan wheel wobbling as it rotates.

An impact test can be used to identify this natural frequency. The impact force should be applied to the extreme edge of the backplate, near the trailing edge of a blade. The response transducer should be attached to the backplate, 1800 from the impact force.

The wheel Wobble mode can be very sensitive to dynamic forces produced as a result of imbalance, misalignment, impacting and disk skew.

PRINCIPAL SHAFT CRITICAL MODE;

The principal critical mode of a shaft is characterized by simple flexural deformation. The magnitude of this natural frequency is dependent upon the stiffness of the shaft, weight of the fan wheel, and stiffness of the bearings and supports. Also, as discussed below, this mode is also dependent upon the type of fan wheel and the placement of the fan wheel relative to the bearings.

An impact test can be used to identify this natural frequency. The impact force and response transducer should be placed at mid-span of the shaft.

COMBINATION (WHEEL WOBBLE/SHAFT CRITICAL) MODE;

It is important to note that the wheel Wobble and shaft critical modes will be independent of each other only for cases where the center of gravity of the wheel coincides with that of the shaft, such as a DWDI fan wheel located at mid-span between bearings. For all other cases, the wheel Wobble and shaft critical modes combine into a single mode shape.

FIGURE 5: Wheel Wobble Mode Shape Figure 5 contains an illustration of the combined mode

FIGURE 5: Wheel Wobble Mode Shape

Figure 5 contains an illustration of the combined mode for a SWSI fan wheel located eccentric of the mid-span of the shaft.

fan wheel located ec centric of the mid-span of the shaft. FIGURE 6: Wheel Wobble Mode

FIGURE 6: Wheel Wobble Mode Shape

Figure 6 contains an illustration of the combined mode for an overhung SWSI fan wheel. The flexural deformation of the fan wheel and shaft participate in both mode shapes

The magnitude of this natural frequency is dependent upon the weight and stiffness of the wheel, especially the stiffness of the backplate, and the weight and stiffness of the shaft.

The magnitude of the combined wheel Wobble/shaft critical mode will always be less than the natural frequency of the individual components.

Excitation of this mode of natural frequency commonly results in the structural fatigue failure of components in the rotor. Many catastrophic failures have been attributed to the excitation of this natural frequency.

Many rotor dynamics programs estimate the critical frequencies of a shaft assuming that the mass of the fan wheel

is concentrated at the centerline of the shaft.

This type of calculation assumes that the shaft critical is not dependent upon the stiffness of the fan wheel and, in effect, provides an estimate which is valid only for those cases where the wheel Wobble mode is independent of the shaft critical mode.

Since the shaft critical and wheel Wobble modes are combined for most industrial and commercial centrifugal fans, the estimates for natural frequencies provided by many rotor dynamics calculations will overestimate the magnitude of the principal natural frequency for most fans.

2ND ORDER WOBBLE MODE;

For cases where the wheel wobble and shaft critical modes couple together to form a single primary mode of the rotor, another mode (2nd order wobble mode) will also be formed. Figure 7 illustrates this mode for an overhung fan wheel. The wobble of the fan wheel opposes the flexural deformation of the shaft.

The magnitude of the natural frequency associated with the 2nd order Wobble mode will always be greater than the natural frequency of the principal Wobble mode.

Since this mode shape requires the coupling of the wheel wobble and shaft critical modes, it will not be present for the case of a DWDI fan wheel located between the bearings and at the mid-span of the shaft.

between the bear ings and at the mid-span of the shaft. FIGURE 7: 2nd Order Wobble

FIGURE 7: 2nd Order Wobble Mode Shape

UMBRELLA MODE;

This mode is commonly referred to as the umbrella mode since the flexural deformation of the backplate gives the appearance of an Umbrella opening and closing.

FIGURE 8: Umbrella Mode Figure 8 contains an illustration of this mode shape. The axial

FIGURE 8: Umbrella Mode

Figure 8 contains an illustration of this mode shape. The axial motion of the blades and inlet shroud are in-phase.

This mode of natural frequency can be identified with the same impact test setup used for the principal Wobble mode. The magnitude of the natural frequency associated with this mode is almost always greater than the natural frequency associated with the principal Wobble mode.

Due to the characteristics of this mode shape, it is very sensitive to dynamic pressures applied to the surface of the backplate (i.e. blade pass & rotating stall pressure pulsation). Therefore, the natural frequency associated with the Umbrella mode should not be close to the frequencies of any dynamic pressure pulsation.

BUTTERFLY MODE;

This mode is commonly referred to as the butterfly mode since the flexural deformation of the backplate gives the appearance of a butterfly opening and closing it's wings.

si nce the flexural deformation of the backplate gives the appearance of a butterfly opening and

FIGURE 9: Butterfly Mode

Figure 9 contains an illustration of this mode shape. It is actually a 4-nodal point mode shape, containing four (4) flexural infection points around the circumference of the wheel. This mode shape is also referred to as the chip mode, since it resembles a potato chip.

The Butterfly or Chip mode can be sensitive to pressure pulsations developed in the air stream, if the frequency of the pulsation approaches the natural frequency.

OTHER HIGHER ORDER MODES;

The other wheel modes are similar to the Butterfly mode except these mode shapes contain more flexural inflection points around the circumference of the wheel. The magnitudes of the natural frequencies associated with these higher order modes are always greater than the lower order modes.

order modes are always greater than the lower order modes. FIGURE 10: Higher Order Mode Shape

FIGURE 10: Higher Order Mode Shape

Figure 10 contains an illustration of a higher order mode shape of a fan wheel. The magnitudes of these higher order natural frequencies are generally not affected by the stiffness of the shaft.

The magnitude of the natural frequency associated with the higher order mode shape containing a number of flexural inflection points equal to the number of blades should never be near the frequency of the blade pass pressure pulsation.

For example, a fan wheel containing eight (8) blades operating at 900 rpm (15 Hz) will develop a blade pass pressure pulsation at a frequency of 8x15=120 Hz. Therefore, the eighth nodal point mode of natural frequency of this fan wheel should not be near 120 Hz.

Many fan manufacturers design fan wheels with an odd number of blades to minimize the sensitivity to this type of natural frequency excitation.

FAN BLADE MODES;

All of the mode shapes described heretofore deal with the natural frequencies of the entire rotor. Each fan blade will have local modes of natural frequencies. Generally, the magnitudes of the natural frequencies of fan blades are greater than the principal natural frequency of the rotor.

The natural frequencies of the blades are very sensitive to dynamic forces applied to the surface of the blade (i.e. pressure pulsation). Therefore, the magnitude of any of the natural frequencies of the blades should not be close to blade pass frequency.

GENERAL;

It is not always easy to discern which mode shape is associated with every natural frequency identified during impact testing. Generally, the lowest natural frequency will belong to the principal Wobble mode.

The 2nd order Wobble and Umbrella modes follow the principal Wobble mode. The Butterfly mode usually is the 4th mode. The higher order modes follow the Butterfly mode. A complete experimental modal analysis is frequently required to develop the mode shapes for all of the natural frequencies.

Due to the nature of the mode shapes associated with the natural frequencies of the fan rotor (wheel and shaft), it

is frequently difficult to obtain an indication of the excitation of any fan wheel resonance by measuring vibrations at

the bearings. Generally, when a natural frequency of the rotor is excited, the vibration at the bearings will not be large, even though the vibration of the rotor can be excessive.

Excitation of these natural frequencies usually results in the fatigue failure of the rotor. The nature and location of the failure can be used to identify the mode of the natural frequency that is excited.

For example, a failure in the backplate could be caused by excessive flexural deformation of the backplate, which would indicate the excitation of either a Wobble or Umbrella mode. A cracked shaft would indicate a possible excitation of a shaft critical or combined Wobble mode. A fatigue failure of a blade would indicate the possible excitation of a local blade natural frequency by a pressure pulsation (blade pass or stall frequencies).

Failure of a fan rotor is not always the result of the excitation of resonance. Low-cycle, high stress cyclic fatigue failures can be the result of excessive start-stop cycles. Most fan wheels operate at high centrifugal stress levels. Every shutdown represents a significant stress excursion.

CENTRIFUGAL STIFFENING;

It is important to note that the natural frequencies of a fan rotor will increase due to centrifugal stiffening and

gyroscopic effects. The natural frequencies of the rotor in operation will be different from the natural frequencies obtained from an impact test in the at rest condition.

The amount of change in the natural frequency due to either centrifugal stiffening or gyroscopic effects is dependent upon many factors including rotational speed, mechanical impedance, fan wheel location on shaft, and flexibility of the shaft. The wheel wobble modes are typically affected more than the other modes.

RESONANCE (Supporting Structures):

BEARING PEDESTALS & FLOOR FRAMING;

In cases were the natural frequency of the structural system matches any of the dynamic forces produced by the fan, a resonant condition will result in the dynamic magnification of vibrations. The excitation of these resonances will adversely affect the life of a bearing and, thus, should be avoided.

Natural frequencies of the structural supporting system can be identified with either an impact or shaker test. The fan should not be operating during either test.

Coastdown data can also be used to identify natural frequencies. Sensitivity to vibration, as the fan coasts through

a frequency is indicative of a resonance at that frequency.

Since the structural system supporting the fan remains stationary and does not rotate, these structural components of the mechanical system are not subjected to stress stiffening effects. Therefore, the natural frequency determined by either an impact or shaker test will be the same during operation of the fan.

FOUNDATIONS;

Foundations are classified as either being shallow (footings and mat type foundations) or deep (caisson or piles). The natural frequency of shallow foundations depends upon the stiffness of the soil under the mat. The natural frequency of a deep foundation is dependent upon the stiffness of the pile group. The rocking mode of the foundation is generally the most sensitive mode of natural frequency.

The soil-foundation interface is the most important factor in determining the natural frequencies associated with the rocking modes of shallow foundations supporting large centrifugal fans. Generally, the stiffness of the soil- foundation interface is much less than the stiffness of the concrete mat. Thus, the deformation characteristics of the soil-foundation interface dictates the magnitude of the natural frequencies associated with the rigid body rocking modes of the foundation.

The dynamic stiffness of the soil-foundation interface is generally greater than the static stiffness. In cases where sub-surface information is limited (which is the norm and not the exception) the Author uses the following relationship for the dynamic stiffness of the soil-foundation interface:

k? = 2.0[ku]

where: ku = modulus of sub-grade reaction

The dynamic stiffness of piles is very difficult to estimate. It is dependent upon the type of pile, length of pile, and soil conditions over the entire length thereof. References are available that provide methods of estimating dynamic pile stiffness.

The center-of-gravity of most large centrifugal fan wheels is typically a significant distance from the plane of the soil-foundation interface. This results in the dynamic forces produced by an unbalanced fan wheel developing significant dynamic overturning moments. The natural frequencies associated with the rigid body rocking modes of a foundation are very sensitive to these dynamic overturning moments. Therefore, it is imperative to design foundations such that these natural frequencies are not close to the rotational speed of the fan.

Foundations for large centrifugal fans usually support the motor and fan housing in addition to the rotor. Large flexible fan housings and/or motor shrouds can effect the magnitude of the principal rocking mode of a foundation. Additionally, these mechanical components can also result in the development of a second order rocking mode of natural frequency, wherein the vibration of the flexible mechanical component opposes the rocking motion of the remainder of the structural/mechanical system. In other words, the flexible mechanical component is out-of-phase with the rest of the system.

ISOLATOR BASES;

The vibration characteristic of an air handling unit on isolator springs is quite different from a fan that is rigidly mounted to a foundation. The springs under the isolator base are generally much more flexible than the base unit. This approximates a nearly free-free vibration state. In other words, the modal characteristics (natural frequency and mode shapes) of the mechanical system approximate that of a totally unsupported structure.

MODAL ANALYSIS OF FANS:

EXPERIMENTAL MODAL ANALYSIS:

Experimental Modal Analysis (EMA) software can be used to curve-fit impact test data to provide estimates of the modal parameters (natural frequencies and damping constants) of a fan rotor and supporting system. Experimental modal analysis provides an animation of each mode shape.

Structural Dynamics Modification (SDM) subroutines are available with the modal software which can be used to evaluate the effect of modifications such as the addition/deletion of mass, stiffness and dynamic vibration absorbers.

FINITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS:

Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a numerical technique which can be used to estimate the natural frequencies and mode shapes of a fan rotor, pedestal or foundation. The figures contained herein as Figures 5-10, which illustrate the various mode shapes of a fan rotor are all the result of finite element analyses.

A finite element model contains much more detail than an experimental model. Because of this, it is generally a

better tool for the evaluation of structural dynamics modifications.

for the evaluation of st ructural dynamics modifications. FIGURE 11: FEA Model of Fan/Pedestal The finite

FIGURE 11: FEA Model of Fan/Pedestal

The finite element method is an approximate numerical technique. Accurate information pertaining to dimensions, plate thickness and material properties are paramount to the accuracy of the finite element estimation. Also, the accuracy of the analysis is dependent upon the proper definition of boundary conditions.

Correlation of finite element analysis to the results of an experimental modal analysis will increase the accuracy of the numerical prediction. Experimental data can provide good estimates for actual bearing stiffness, foundation soil stiffness, mechanical non-linearities, etc.

Since the finite element method is a numerical technique, the modal characteristics of a fan can be estimated prior

to fabrication. This makes the finite element method an extremely valuable tool for product development. Potential

resonant problems can be identified and eliminated in the design stage, thus, eliminating potential costly field

modifications.

The finite element method can also estimate the effect of centrifugal stress stiffening on the natural frequency of a fan wheel.

CASE HISTORY #1:

(wobble Mode Excitation):

A variable speed over-hung centrifugal fan, designed for a maximum speed of 3600 rpm (60 Hz), vibrated

excessively as the fan approached 3200 rpm (53 Hz) Vibration levels, measured at the fan-side bearing, exceeded

2 ips.

An impact test was performed to determine the natural frequencies of the fan wheel. Figure 12 contains the transfer function from the impact test that identified an At rest natural frequency at around 40.5 Hz.

FIGURE 12: Impact Test Results A complete experimental modal analysis determined that this natural frequency

FIGURE 12: Impact Test Results

A complete experimental modal analysis determined that this natural frequency was associated the principal

Wobble mode of the wheel. Initially it appeared that the excessive vibrations were not a resonance problem, since

the natural frequency was 40.5 Hz and the vibration problem occurred at 53 Hz.

A finite element analysis of the wheel was performed to estimate the effects of stress stiffening during operation.

The FEA study showed that the natural frequency increased to around 53 Hz as the fan speed increased to 3200 rpm due to centrifugal stiffening.

The natural frequency continued to increase with fan speed as the centrifugal stiffening effects also increased. This resulted in a wide range of speeds at which the natural frequency was excited. The only solution was to redesign the fan wheel to eliminate the resonance.

CASE HISTORY #2:

(Finite Element Analysis of Pedestal & Wheel Prior to Fabrication & Installation)

An existing fan unit was scheduled for redesign and replacement due to many vibration problems relating to resonance. The support pedestal was resonant near fan speed resulting in an amplification of vibrations at the bearing which lead to constant failures. Also, fan wheel resonance problems resulted in the development of fatigue cracks in the wheel.

The replacement fan wheel was a double-wide, double-inlet (DWDI) type. The fan wheel was located at mid-span

of

the shaft, between the bearings. A finite element analysis was performed to estimate the modal characteristics

of

the fan wheel and pedestal prior to fabrication.

Figure 13 contains a three-dimensional view of the finite element model developed to study the support pedestal.

view of the finite element model developed to study the support pedestal. FIGURE 13: Finite Element

FIGURE 13: Finite Element Model of Pedestal

A top view of the 1st mode shape of the support pedestal is shown in Figure 14. The flexural deformation of the

side panels dominate the mode shape. This mode of natural frequency has been identified, by the Author, as a

problem area on several other fan pedestals.

The FEA estimated the lowest natural frequency of the pedestal to be 36 Hz, which is greater than the 1500 rpm (25 Hz) operating speed of the fan by more than 40%. This was considered acceptable.

the fan by more than 40%. This was considered acceptable. FIGURE 14: Pedestal Mode Shape @

FIGURE 14: Pedestal Mode Shape @ 36 Hz

Another finite element model was developed to study the modal characteristics of the rotor. Figure 15 contains the mode shape predicted by the analysis for the principal wobble mode of the fan wheel.

the analysis for the principal wobble mode of the fan wheel. FIGURE 15: Wheel "Wobble" Mode

FIGURE 15: Wheel "Wobble" Mode @ 39 Hz

It is interesting to note that the flexural deformation of the shaft does not participate in this mode shape. This is

due to the fact that the center of mass and stiffness of the fan wheel coincide with that of the shaft. This is one condition where the 1st flexural critical speed of the shaft separates from the principal "wobble" mode of the wheel.

The natural frequency for this principal wheel mode (stress stiffened) was estimated by the finite element analysis to be 39 Hz, which was greater than the rotational speed of the fan by more than 55%.

FIGURE 16: Shaft Critical Mode @ 58 Hz Figure 16 contains the mode shape predict

FIGURE 16: Shaft Critical Mode @ 58 Hz

Figure 16 contains the mode shape predicted for the 1st flexural critical of the shaft. The magnitude of this natural frequency was estimated as 58 Hz, which is over 2x the rotational speed of the fan.

The finite element analyses provided a confirmation of the design, relative to natural frequencies, prior to fabrication.

REFERENCES:

[1] The Simplified Handbook of Vibration Analysis, Volume 2", Crawford, Arthur R., Computational Systems, Inc., Knoxville, TN, 1992.

[2] Design and Specification Guidelines for Large Draft Fans and Systems, Electric Power Research Institute, EPRI CS-3431, Project 1649-8, Final Report, January, 1984.

[3] Dynamics of Bases and Foundations, Barkan, D.D., McGraw-Hill Book Company,1962.

[4] Finite Element Procedures in Engineering Analysis, Bathe, Klaus-Jurgen, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1982.

[5] Modal Testing: Theory and Practice, Ewins, D.J., Research Studies Press Ltd., Taunton, Somerset, England,

1984.

[6] Applied Modal & Operating Deflection Shape Analysis, Sayer, R.J., Class Notes, Computational Systems, Inc., Knoxville, TN.

AUTHOR'S BIOGRAPHY:

Robert J. Sayer, P.E. is the president of Sayer & Associates, Inc., a consulting engineering company specializing in experimental and finite element modal analysis of rotating equipment and structural supporting systems.

For the past 24 years, Mr. Sayer has been performing numerical simulations, experimental modal analysis, and operating deflection shape analysis to define the dynamic characteristics of many types of mechanical systems. He has provided testing and analysis services to a diverse range of industries including aerospace, automotive, defense, fossil fuel & nuclear power generation, fiberglass, food processing, pharmaceutical, pulp & paper, and mining & metals.

Mr. Sayer is a member of the Vibration Institute, American Society of Civil Engineers, and Tau Beta Pi (National Engineering Honor Society). His educational background includes a BSCE (Ohio University), MSCE (Purdue

University), and MSIE (Cleveland State University). © Copyright 1999, Computational Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved.

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