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Design Strategy for Axial Fans

Modern Layout and Design Strategy for Axial Fans

Axialventilatoren

DOKTOR–INGENIEUR

vorgelegt von

Erlangen, 2009

Als Disseration genehmigt von der Technischen Fakultät

der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Tag der Promotion: 24.04.2009

Berichterstatter: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. F. Durst

Prof. Dr. M. Wensing

ii

Acknowledgements

This work received financial support from the Bavarian Science Foundation in the form

I would like especially to thank my supervisor, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. F. Durst, who from the

first day we met, during the Summer Academy Kuşadasi 2004, captured my attention for

fluid mechanics research, and by supporting my diploma thesis at the Institute of Fluid

Mechanics LSTM Erlangen, brought me in close contact with the topic and stirred my

I would also like to thank Prof. Dr. M. Wensing for his kind acceptance to review the

present work.

Furthermore, I would like to thank Prof. Dr. A. Delgado, head of the Institute of Fluid

Mechanics LSTM Erlangen, who supported and encouraged the present work, always

LSTM, for his sustained moral support, to whom I dedicate the successful turnout of the

I would also like to express my gratitude to Alu Automotive GmbH for the kind support

offered to the present work, and especially to the company manager, Mr. Felix Hellmuth.

I would especially like to thank Dr. Ph. Epple, head of the Turbomachinery Optimization

research group at LSTM Erlangen, for his constant supervision and strong commitment to

iii

My warm acknowledgement also goes to Dipl.-Ing. M. Miclea-Bleiziffer for his support

and numerous brainstorming sessions that led to the present layout of the work.

I warmly acknowledge the technical department of the institute for their continual

Finally, I would like to thank all my colleagues at LSTM for the wonderful and friendly

working atmosphere, to the workshop and administration, who all contributed to the

Şi cel mai important, doresc să îi mulţumesc familiei mele, pentru sprijinul necondiţionat

iv

List of Contents

1

5H 6H Introduction and aim of work 11

7H

1.1

8H General introduction

9H 11

10H

1.2

1H Classification of turbomachines

12H 11

13H

1.3

14H Aim of work

15H 11

16H

2

17H 18H Basic equations of fluid mechanics as applied in turbomachines 11

19H

2.1

20H 21H Navier–Stokes equations in rotating systems 11

2H

2.2

23H Energy transfer in turbomachines

24H 11

25H

3

26H 27H Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers 11

28H

3.1

29H Basic features of turbomachinery design

30H 11

31H

3.2

32H Two – dimensional cascade theory

3H 11

34H

3.2.1

35H Aerodynamics forces and governing equations

36H 11

37H

3.3

38H Design methods based on the airfoil theory

39H 11

40H

3.3.1

41H Airfoil families. Mean-line and thickness distribution

42H 11

43H

3.3.2

4H Design parameters

45H 11

46H

3.3.3

47H Cascade losses. Diffusion factor

48H 11

49H

3.4

50H Three-dimensional character of the flow in axial turbomachines

51H 11

52H

4

53H 54H Proposed design strategy for axial fans 11

5H

4.1

56H Mean-line calculation

57H 11

58H

4.2

59H Outlet conditions

60H 11

61H

4.3

62H Meridional flow analysis for axial fans

63H 11

64H

4.4

65H The indirect design problem

6H 11

67H

4.5

68H Parameterization of the total pressure in the span-wise direction for an

69H

70H

4.6

71H Blade shape computation

72H 11

73H

4.7

74H Further design assumptions based on profile analysis

75H 11

76H

4.7.1

7H Static-to-static cascade efficiency

78H 11

79H

4.7.2

80H Total-to-total cascade efficiency

81H 11

82H

4.7.3

83H Profiling the camber line

84H 11

85H

4.8

86H Design Solver (DS)

87H 11

8H

v

4.9

89H DS output

90H 11

91H

5

92H 93H Numerical flow analysis 11

94H

5.1

95H Mathematical model

96H 11

97H

5.2

98H Mesh generation

9H 11

10H

5.3

10H Numerical models and boundary conditions

102H 11

103H

5.4

104H Appropriate performance indicators

105H 11

106H

5.5

107H Optimum span-wise pressure distribution

108H 11

109H

5.6

10H Profile analysis

1H 11

12H

5.6.1

13H Flow domain around the profiles

14H 11

15H

5.6.2

16H Mesh generation

17H 11

18H

5.6.3

19H Numerical results

120H 11

12H

6

12H 123H Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy 11

124H

6.1

125H Investigated impellers

126H 11

127H

6.2

128H Experimental facility

129H 11

130H

6.3

13H Measured parameters

132H 11

13H

6.4

134H Measuring equipment

135H 11

136H

6.5

137H Experimental results

138H 11

139H

6.6

140H Validation of the results

14H 11

142H

7

143H 14H Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans 11

145H

7.1

146H The Cordier diagram

147H 11

148H

7.2

149H Ideal efficiency for axial fans

150H 11

15H

8

152H 153H Conclusions and outlook 11

154H

vi

Index of Symbols

A [m2] area

M [N m] torque

P [W] power

b [m/s2] acceleration

r [m] radius

Greek symbols

[–] efficiency

[–] pressure ratio between the fan outlet and the inlet static pressures

[kg/m3] density

vii

[o] camber turning angle

[–] temperature ratio between the fan outlet and inlet temperatures

[–] circulation

[–] vorticity

Subscripts

1 blade inlet

2 blade outlet

h hub

t tip, total

s static

d dynamic

viii

Abstract

The present work addresses the application of computational fluid dynamics in the

research and development process of axial fans of the kind used in numerous fields of

engineering and in daily life. In this sense, a modern layout and design strategy for axial

impellers are proposed, as basis for optimization in this engineering field.

Essentially, the strategy is a combined inverse-direct method, based on a design solver

which computes the optimum blade profile according to the flow conditions in the fan,

and does not make use of any predefined profiles.

When applied in a rigorous manner, the proposed design strategy delivers high-

performance design solutions for axial fans, and this is thoroughly confirmed by both

numerical and experimental results.

The design calculation scheme starts with the one – dimensional hypothesis of the mean

streamline, based on which the blade inlet (at all sections) and outlet (at the hub)

conditions are determined. Then, by computing the blade as a succession of several

cascades, the two-dimensional nature of the flow is considered. Finally, the blade profile

is fully resolved by implementing a three-dimensional (meridional) analysis into the

design process. By assuming an arbitrary vortex flow, the optimum pressure distribution

in the span-wise direction is determined and the parameterization of the outlet blade

angle is achieved, as a function of one of the most important constructive characteristics

of an axial fan, i.e. the hub ratio.

The advantages of employing the suggested design strategy as an optimization tool are

first emphasized by fully converged CFD solutions, which show the substantial

improvements in efficiency achieved by the new designs over the reference model, i.e. an

engine cooling fan currently used in the automotive industry. Moreover, the employment

of the non-free vortex assumption at the design stage is proved to be beneficial for the fan

performance, since the design obtained accordingly performs efficiently through a wider

flow range.

Even though modern CFD nowadays achieves excellent flow predictions, phenomena

with impact on the performance are neglected, hence the motivation for the experimental

confirmation of the proposed designs. The performance curves of the non-free vortex

ix

flow design against the reference impeller show an absolute increase in the measured

(total-to-static) efficiency of 10% for the proposed design.

Finally, the present work proposes an analytical computation of the integrated ideal

efficiency for axial fans, a concept which was derived as a response to the incapacity of

the classical Cordier diagram to predict the actual performance of axial impellers

operating in the low-pressure regimes, due to proven inconsistencies for this type of

turbomachine with regard to the definitions of the parameters employed. It is shown that

the proposed design strategy delivers an axial fan whose performance comes very close

to that of the ideal machine.

x

Zusammenfassung

Die vorliegende Arbeit beschäftigt sich mit der Anwendung von numerischen

Strömungssimulationen in der Forschungs- und Entwicklungsarbeit axialer Gebläse, die

im Ingenieursbereich und täglichen Alltag vielfältig zu finden sind. In diesem Sinne wird

für diesen Bereich des Ingenieurwesens eine moderne Auslegungs- und Designstrategie

für axiale Gebläse vorgeschlagen.

Die entwickelte Auslegungsstrategie ist hauptsächlich eine kombinierte inverse–direkte

Methode, die sich auf einen Design-Löser stützt, der in Abhängigkeit der

Strömungsbedingungen im Laufrad, ein optimales Schaufelprofil berechnet, ohne andere

vorgegebene Profile zu nutzen.

Die vorgeschlagene Auslegungsstrategie liefert, wenn sie richtig angewendet wird,

Hochleistungslösungen für das Design axialer Gebläse, die von numerischen und

experimentellen Ergebnissen bestätigt wurden.

Das Auslegungsschema beginnt mit der ein-dimensionalen Hypothese der

Hauptstromlinie, auf der die Bedingungen am Schaufeleintritt (auf allen Querschnitten)

und Schaufelaustritt (an der Nabe) bestimmt werden. Die Zwei-dimensionalität der

Strömung wird mithilfe der Berechnung zwei-dimensionaler Kaskaden berücksichtigt.

Das Schaufelprofil wird im Designverlauf über die Einführung einer drei-dimensionalen

(Merdidionalen) Analyse vollständig berechnet. Nach der Einstellung einer freien

Wirbelströmung werden in der Spannweitenrichtung die optimale Druckverteilung und

die Parametrierung des Austrittwinkels als Funktion der wichtigsten Eigenschaft eines

Axialgebläses - dem Nabe-Gehäuse-Verhältnis - berechnet.

Der Vorteil der vorgeschlagenen Auslegungsstrategie als Optimierungswerkzeug wird

erst durch vollständig konvergierte CFD-Ergebnisse unterstützt. Die neuen Gebläse, zum

Beispiel Lüftungsgebläse der Automobilindustrie, zeigen im Vergleich zum

Referenzmodell erhebliche Verbesserungen des Wirkungsgrads. Außerdem erweist sich

die Anwendung der „Nicht-freien Wirbel“ Annahmen vorteilhaft für das

Leistungsverhalten des Gebläses, da das neue Design über einem weiten Bereich der

Durchfluss-Kennlinie effizienter arbeitet.

Obwohl moderne CFD heutzutage ausgezeichnete Strömungsvorhersagen erreicht und

somit erlauben, aus einer Serie von Auslegungen die beste auszuwählen, wurde die beste

xi

Auslegung am Prüfstand verifiziert. Damit konnte das Auslegungsverfahren

experimentell verifiziert werden.

Nach der Auslegung und Nachrechnung mit CFD, wurde für das beste Laufrad ein

Prototyp gebaut und am Prüfstand vermessen und somit die Auslegung verifiziert.

Ein Vergleich der Kennlinien der mithilfe der „Nicht-freien Wirbel“-Auslegungsmethode

ausgelegten Gebläse mit denen von Referenzgebläsen zeigen in der gemessenen Effizienz

(total -zu- statisch) eine 10 %-ige absolute Erhöhung.

Die vorliegende Arbeit schlägt abschließend eine analytische Berechnung der

integrierten-idealen Effizienz von Axialgebläsen vor. Dieses Konzept wurde als eine

Ergänzung zum klassischen Cordier-Diagramm abgeleitet, da dieses wegen schon

bekannter Widersprüche in den eingesetzten Parametern für diesen Typ von

Turbomaschinen nicht in der Lage ist, die Leistungen von axialen Gebläsen

vorherzusagen. Es wird gezeigt, dass die vorgeschlagene Auslegungsstrategie axiale

Gebläse liefert, deren Wirkungsgrad einer idealen Maschine sehr nahe kommen.

xii

1. Introduction and aim of work

0B

0B

Fluid mechanics is a subject that has developed over centuries to become an independent

field of science, based on laws that are generally accepted, such as conservation of mass,

momentum, and energy, and the basic laws that describe the thermodynamic properties of

the fluids. These laws are best and most condensed written down in terms of tensor

notation:

Conservation of mass (continuity equation) for Newtonian fluids

U i

0 (1.1)

t xi

Momentum equation

U j U j P ij

Ui gj (1.2)

t xi x j xi

U j U i 2 U k

ij ij (1.3)

xi x j xk

3

Thermal energy equation

e e qi U j U j

Ui P ij (1.4)

t xi xi x j xi

e CvT (1.5)

T

qi (1.6)

xi

1

1. Introduction and aim of work

0B

P RT (1.7)

The above equations describe the ideal gas as a medium, and the different types of flows

are given only by different initial and boundary conditions. These equations are therefore

used nowadays to solve flow problems which occur in different areas of engineering,

science and medicine, and also in nature and daily life, Durst [31]:

15H

Reaction technology and reactor layout

Aerodynamics of vehicles and airplanes

Semiconductor-crystal production, thin-film technology, vapor-phase deposition

processes

Layout and optimization of pumps, valves and nozzles

Development of measuring instruments and production of sensors

Ventilation, heating and air-conditioning techniques, layout and tests, laboratory

vents

Problem solutions for roof ventilation and flows around buildings

Production of electronic components, micro-systems analysis engineering

Layout of stirrer systems, propellers, and turbines

Sub-domains of biomedicine and medical engineering

Layout of combustion units

Among the numerous fields, the above equations are used to solve fluid flow problems in

the field of flow machinery in general and turbomachines, in particular. It is the latter

field to which the present thesis attempts to make a contribution.

The flow in turbomachines is turbulent, and there is a crucial difference when modeling

the physical phenomena between laminar and turbulent flow. For the latter, the

appearance of turbulence eddies occurs on a wide range of length scales and typical flow

domains in this case would require computing meshes of 109–1012 grid points, Tu et al.

[103]. With the present-day computing power, the computing requirements for a direct

156H

2

1. Introduction and aim of work

0B

turbulent flows at high Reynolds numbers are truly phenomenal. Engineers, however,

require computational procedures that can supply adequate information associated with

the turbulent processes, but wish to avoid the need to predict all the effects caused by

each individual eddy in the flow. This category of CFD users is almost always satisfied

with information about the time-averaged properties of the flow. Therefore, in order to

study the dynamics of turbulence in common engineering applications, Reynolds

turbulence decomposition, for the instantaneous velocity and pressure, and time

averaging of the Navier–Stokes equations are required, yielding in a system of equations

for the mean flow, Jovanović [55]: 157H

U j P U j

U i ui u j g j (1.8)

xi x j xi xi

In Eq.(1.8) the Reynolds equations for turbulent flows are written (for the incompressible

case), including the “Reynolds stresses” ui u j , which are caused by the turbulent motion.

In this way, new unknowns are introduced, which are in fact correlations of velocity

fluctuations. This yields a system of differential equations which is unclosed, and in order

to close this system, the application of turbulence models is required. Here, the standard

two-equation k- model should be mentioned, Launder and Spalding [64], which closes

158H

the above system of equations with two additional transport equations: one for the

turbulent kinetic energy k, and the other for the rate of dissipation of the turbulent energy

. This model is probably the most widely used and validated turbulence model, and its

performance has been assessed against a considerable number of practical flows.

However, despite the many successful applications in handling industrial problems, the

standard k- model demonstrates only moderate agreement when predicting unconfined

flows, hence numerous turbulence models have been developed recently in order to

obtain accurate solutions of the more complex flow situations, such as the flow in

turbomachines.

Solving such complex flow behaviors is addressed by most computational fluid dynamics

(CFD) commercial codes available today, and due to the proven robustness of the flow

solver for turbomachines, ANSYS CFX was intensively employed in the present work, and

excellent convergence, in terms of both computational time and resources, was obtained

by applying the Shear Stress Turbulence (SST) model, Menter [77]. A detailed 159H

3

1. Introduction and aim of work

0B

explanation of how this turbulence model works and why it is particularly applicable in

the case of turbomachines will be given in Chapter 5 of the thesis.

Essentially, the turbomachine is an energy conversion device, converting mechanical

energy to thermal/pressure energy or vice versa. The conversion is done through the

dynamic interaction between a continuously flowing fluid and a rotating machine

component, and both momentum and energy transfer are involved.

In turbomachines, the fluid flows freely between the inlet and outlet of the machine,

without any intermittency. All turbomachines have a freely and continuously rotation part

known as a runner, impeller or rotor, which allows uninterrupted flow through it.

Therefore, the energy transfer between the rotor and the fluid is continuous, as a result of

the rate of change in angular momentum, Aksel [3].

160H

Much has been written on classifying turbomachinery, Wright [112], and without

16H

books addressing this field, the author feels that a short summary of the different types

will be helpful for a clear statement of the aim of the present work within the large class

of flow devices to which the terminology refers. In most of the available literature, a

major subdivision can be achieved based on the power criterion, identifying whether

power is added (power absorbing) or extracted from the fluid (power producing). In this

respect, pumps can be assigned to the category of the power-absorbing turbomachines,

and they include liquid pumps, fans, blowers and compressors. Turbines are power-

producing machines and they include windmills, water wheels, modern hydroelectric

turbines, the exhaust side of automotive engine turbochargers, and the power extraction

end of an aviation gas turbine engine. They also operate with various types of fluids,

including gases, liquids, and mixtures of the two.

Another possibility to classify the turbomachines is from the perspective of the fluid

medium handled, either compressible or incompressible, Peng [84]. 162H

163H

4

1. Introduction and aim of work

0B

164H

According to the nature of the flow path through the passages of the rotor, the device is

termed an axial-flow turbomachine when the path of the through-flow is wholly or

mainly parallel to the axis of rotation, radial when the path is in a plane perpendicular to

the rotation axis, and mixed-flow turbomachines, when at the rotor outlet both radial and

axial velocity components are present in significant amounts, Dixon [29].

165H

With regard to the first criterion cited, i.e. that of whether power is being extracted from

or added to the working fluid, the present work addresses the category of power-

absorbing turbomachinery, namely fans. Since, as will be shown in the later sections, the

flow in the investigated fans, i.e. air, is characterized by Mach numbers below the

compressibility limit, a further placement in the general classification can be made,

according to the working fluid, i.e. fans operating with incompressible flow.

When considering the nature of the flow path with respect to the axis of rotation, the

present work addresses the axial flow machines, and thus, axial fans.

As a class, axial flow fans include high-capacity, low-head (pressure), single-stage

machines. In small sizes, motor-driven axial fans are sometimes built in two stages owing

to speed limitations but are classed essentially as low head machines, Thwaites [102].

16H

5

1. Introduction and aim of work

0B

The advent of the gas turbine engine during the Second World War demanded rapid

developments in aerodynamic design and analysis techniques linked to wind tunnel and

model testing, and in response, the field of “Internal Aerodynamics” was born and has

expanded with remarkable speed and complexity over the entire class of turbomachines,

Lewis [68], including axial fans. However, in the area of axial fans, a lack of test and

167H

design data in the early stages of their development is responsible for the attempt of most

designers in this field to make extensive use of airfoil profiles, Stepanoff [100].

168H

The main scope of the design process of axial fans, employing either airfoil theory or

other more direct design methods, is to deliver high-efficiency blades.

The same area is addressed in the present work, but with strong emphasis on developing a

new design strategy for axial fans, which does not make use of any predefined profiles,

such as airfoils, but instead computes high-efficiency profiles, according to the

operational requirements of the investigated impellers. Of course, designing an efficient

profile implies that the required shape has to be aerodynamically efficient and therefore,

the classical design considerations based on the airfoil theory will not be neglected.

However, the method presented is not limited only to such considerations, and even

though the airfoil theory method of axial impeller design is invariably associated with the

free-vortex energy distribution along the radius, variations from this well-known design

assumption are investigated and found more to be appropriate for fan design purposes.

Hence the proposed design method, addressing the field of low-pressure axial fans,

suggests an innovative blend of one-, two-, and three-dimensional flow considerations,

with the aim of delivering the best performing blade profiles, and thus fan models

approaching the ideal flow machine.

The concept of the ideal machine is quantified differently in the literature, and it seems

that there is really no standardized method to determine what the maximum achievable

performance of a specified class of flow machines, might be. Often, most designers refer

to the Cordier diagram in this sense, as presented in Figure 1-2.

169H

Essentially, this diagram delivers, for an optimum pair of rotor dimensions and operating

conditions (quantified by the so-called “diameter number” , and the “speed number” ,

respectively), the highest efficiency for the investigated impeller, Eck [33]. and are

170H

6

1. Introduction and aim of work

0B

derived based on the flow and pressure (head) coefficients, i.e. and , respectively.

and are essential for the dimensionless analysis in the field of turbomachinery, and

one can interpret them as the equivalent of the Nusselt number (Nu) and Euler number

(Eu) from the Navier–Stokes equations. Based on a given pair , , the flow type of the

investigated rotor is determined on the Cordier diagram: from radial (higher and

smaller ), to diagonal and finally, to axial (smaller and higher ).

17H

As stated in the above paragraphs, the present work addresses axial flow fans operating in

low-pressure ranges. When identifying the points corresponding to this type of impellers

on the diagram, it seems that they are mostly concentrated in the upper half of the chart,

7

1. Introduction and aim of work

0B

i.e. opt 0.3 , and when associating a trend-line to cover most of these points, a

“probable” curve of efficiency for low-pressure fans is obtained, as marked in Figure 1-2.

172H

Hence any axial fan, characterized by optimum dimensions and operating conditions,

should deliver its highest efficiency if placed on this curve. However, this concept of

ideal/maximum efficiency, as quantified by the Cordier diagram, is to some extent

inconsistent from the axial impeller point of view. As will be presented in later sections,

axial turbomachines are characterized by integral properties, and all the parameters

influencing the efficiency of the impeller ( and ) need to be integrated values of the

local ones. Hence the ideal efficiency of axial impellers should represent the result of the

integration of this local efficiency over the entire flow area. This matter is referred to in

the present work and an analytical, integrated expression of the ideal efficiency of axial

fans is proposed.

8

2. Basic equations of fluid mechanics as applied in turbomachines

1B

1B

turbomachines

In the previous chapter, a general statement of the essential laws which govern the flow

in turbomachines was made and it was emphasized that full solutions of these equations

are obtained based on the correct treatment of the turbulent Reynolds stresses. However,

before even considering the turbulent aspect of the flow in such machines, a thorough

understanding of these basic equations is required, as they are central for the

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) technique. CFD is fundamentally based on the

governing equations of fluid dynamics, which essentially represent statements of the

conservation laws of physics. The purpose of the present chapter is to introduce the

derivation of these fundamental equations and their employment for the CFD analysis of

turbomachines, where the following physical laws are adopted:

Mass is conserved for the fluid

Newton’s second law, the rate of change of momentum equals the sum of all

forces acting on the fluid

First law of thermodynamics, the rate of change of energy equals the sum of rate

of heat addition to the fluid and the rate of work done on the fluid

In this sense, the derivation of the continuity, momentum, and energy equations in

rotating reference systems will be addressed, as they are applicable to turbomachines, as

in the case of the axial fan depicted in Figure 2-1, where the rotation is about the x3-axis.

173H

9

2. Basic equations of fluid mechanics as applied in turbomachines

1B

Figure 2-1 Axial flow fan within the cartesian coordinate system

Let us consider, for the upcoming derivations, a control volume defined around the fluid

element of known mass m, as shown in Figure 2-2:

174H

The flow velocity (denoted U in the previous section) will be referred to as c, as it is the

common notation in the theory of turbomachines.

The rate of change in the mass is given by:

dm

c dA (2.1)

dt A

The continuity equation states that there is no change in mass with respect to time, hence

10

2. Basic equations of fluid mechanics as applied in turbomachines

1B

dm

0 (2.2)

dt

In the case of the an incompressible fluid, i.e. the fluid density is constant, (2.2) becomes

175H

dA 0

A

c (2.3)

176H

ci

0 , i 1, 2,3 (2.4)

xi

Equation (2.4) expresses the continuity equation for an incompressible, steady flow.

17H

The momentum equation (Newton’s second law) states that the rate of change in the

momentum equals the sum of all forces acting on the fluid element:

dM d

c c dA F (2.5)

dt dt A A

In (2.5), the sum of all forces acting on the fluid element includes: pressure forces,

178H

d

dt

c c dA Fp F fr Fg (2.6)

A

Written in tensorial form, for the cartesian coordinate system, the momentum equation

becomes

c j c j G 1 P 1 ij

ci (2.7)

t xi x j x j xi

gravity pressure friction

force force force

c j c j G P ij

ci (2.8)

t xi x j x j xi

180H

G

gj

x j

11

2. Basic equations of fluid mechanics as applied in turbomachines

1B

Equation (2.8) becomes

18H

c j c j P ij

ci gj (2.9)

t xi x j xi

For the fluid mechanically ideal case of inviscid flow, i.e. ij 0 , the momentum equation

in (2.9) becomes

182H

c j c j P

ci g j (Euler equations) (2.10)

t xi x j

The continuity equation in (2.4) and momentum balance equation, for the viscous flow

183H

case, in (2.9), form a system of four equations with ten unknowns: the flow

184H

According to Durst [31], the viscous term due to the momentum transport ij is a

185H

c j

function of and is described by the following relation:

xi

c j ci 2 c

ij ij k (2.11)

xi x j xk

3

Considering const and const , then

2 ci 2 ci ci

(2.12)

x j xi xix j x j xi

The continuity equation for the incompressible flow states that

ci

0 (2.13)

xi

Equation (2.12) becomes

186H

2 ci 2 ci

0 (2.14)

x j xi xix j

On inserting (2.14) into (2.11), then the viscous term in the momentum equation can be

187H 18H

written as

12

2. Basic equations of fluid mechanics as applied in turbomachines

1B

ij

2 ci

2 (2.15)

xi xi

Equation (2.9) becomes

189H

c j c j P 2 ci

ci gj

t xi x j xi2

(2.16)

ci 0

x

i

Equation (2.16), coupled with the continuity equation (2.13), form the Navier–Stokes

190H 19H

system of equations for incompressible flow, which is a system of four equations with

four unknowns, and hence a closed system. This system, however, in order to describe

accurately the flow in a rotating system, such as the rotor of a turbomachine, needs to be

solved with respect to a rotating (relative) system.

Let us consider a point P and its position with respect to two systems: the absolute

reference system (AS) and the relative reference system (RS), as depicted in Figure 2-3.192H

Its origin is at point OR, it rotates with angular velocity and its translation from the AS

is given by the vector a .

Figure 2-3 Absolute and relative reference systems at the same time step t. Adapted from Fister [40]

193H

At the same time step t, the position of the point P is given by the vector q with respect

to AS and by r with respect to RS. The rate of change in the position of P with respect to

AS represents the absolute velocity and is given by

d q

c OA (2.17)

dt

The rate of change in the position of P with respect to RS is the relative velocity:

13

2. Basic equations of fluid mechanics as applied in turbomachines

1B

d r

w OR (2.18)

dt

The rotation of RS with respect to AS creates the circumferential velocity, Fister [40], 194H

which is defined as

u r (2.19)

On writing the Navier–Stokes system in (2.16) with respect to RS, then two additional

195H

forces in the momentum balance appear: one due to the centrifugal force, and the other

due to the Coriolis force:

w w P

w g r 2 w (2.20)

t r r r

centrifugal Coriolis

force force

In tensorial form, (2.20) can be written for all three directions of the cartesian system, i.e.

196H

as indicated in Figure 2-1, whereas for the RS, the angular velocity vector indicates the

197H

w j w j P ij

wi

g j i xi j i2 x j 2 kij wk i (2.21)

t xi x j xi

wi

0 (2.22)

xi

In (2.21) and (2.22), the Navier–Stokes equations with respect to a relative system are

19H 20H

written for the case of the incompressible flow. These are the equations which describe

the rotating frames of reference and, in the case of the turbulent flow in turbomachines,

Reynolds decomposition is applied to this system.

The energy equation for the same relative reference system is obtained by multiplying

(2.21) with w j under the following assumptions: stationary flow, neglecting the molecular

201H

D w u2

2

p

j G 0

Dt 2 2

w2j p u2

wi G 0 (2.23)

xi 2 2

14

2. Basic equations of fluid mechanics as applied in turbomachines

1B

On integrating (2.23) according to Figure 2-2, then the following expression for the

20H 203H

w2j p u 2

wi G wi dAi

2

xi 2

A

1 2 2

W

2

c1 c2 u12 u22 w22 w12 (2.24)

Equation (2.24) is the energy equation for a relative system and in the theory of

204H

turbomachines this is referred to as the Euler equation for pumps and turbines (the

difference is made by the sign convention: positive work for turbines, negative for

pumps). This equation relates to the energy transfer in such flow machines and, since it is

essential for the analysis of turbomachines and central to the design process, it will be

treated separately in the following section.

1 2 2

The first term in (2.24), 205H

2

c1 c2 , represents the energy transfer due to the change in

the absolute kinetic energy of the fluid during its passage between the entrance and exit

1

sections. In a pump or compressor, the discharge kinetic energy from the rotor, c22 , may

2

be considerable. Normally, it is the static head or pressure that is required as useful

energy. Usually, the kinetic energy at the rotor outlet is converted into a static pressure

head by passing the fluid through a diffuser. In a turbine, the change in absolute kinetic

energy represents the power transmitted from the fluid to the rotor due to an impulse

effect. As this absolute kinetic energy change can be used to accomplish a rise in

pressure, it can be called a “virtual pressure rise” or a “pressure rise” which it is possible

to attain. The amount of the pressure rise in the diffuser depends, of course, on the

efficiency of the diffuser. Since this pressure rise comes from the diffuser, which is

1 2 2

external to the rotor,

2

c1 c2 is sometimes called the “external effect”.

The other two terms in Eq. (2.24) are factors that produce a pressure rise within the rotor

206H

itself, and hence they are called “internal diffusion”. The centrifugal effect, given by the

15

2. Basic equations of fluid mechanics as applied in turbomachines

1B

1 2

term

2

u1 u22 , is due to the centrifugal forces that are developed as the fluid particles

move outwards towards the rim of the machine, and this effect is produced if the fluid

changes the radius from the entrance to the exit of the impeller. This is not the case with

the axial-flow machines, where the flow particles enter and leave the rotor at the same

radius, and hence u1 u2 .

1 2

The last term,

2

w2 w12 , represents the energy transfer due to the change in the relative

kinetic energy of the fluid. If w2 w1 , the passage acts like a nozzle, and if instead

Figure 2-4 Meridional flow through a turbomachine and flow through an elementary stream tube: a)

meridional flow through a pump or a fan rotor; b) stream tube along the surface of revolution

mapped out by the meridional streamline 0 . Adapted from Lewis [68]

207H

The Euler pump and turbine equation as derived previously is a one-dimensional equation

in the sense that it is applicable to a unit mass of fluid flowing along the line mapped out

by the elementary stream tube illustrated in Figure 2-4b. The circumferential projection

208H

of such infinitely thin stream tubes on to the (x,r) plane leads to the definition of a family

of so-called meridional streamlines illustrated in Figure 2-4a, of which the hub and casing

209H

form the boundary streamlines. It is clear that one Euler equation must be derived for

each meridional streamline during the design phase of a turbomachine and these

equations will lead to a precise specification of the swirl velocity change from cu1 to cu2

required for a specified change in the work of the rotor, W. The Euler equation is thus

central to the design process.

16

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

2B

impellers

In the field of turbomachinery, multiple design methods and concepts can be identified,

and often important design choices are made based on the designer’s experience. Even

though such design choices appear to be numerous and developed for the particular class

of flow machines under consideration, the design process itself, no matter what its

content, can be laid out in simple steps that need to be followed if the resulting design is

to be a successful one.

Much of the established literature on designing flow machines makes valuable references

to the existent design methods, Balje [9], and accordingly three basic steps in the design

210H

The one-dimensional design or the so-called “mean-line design” method (or

critical path line) usually provides the first step in the design procedure

Two-dimensional and three-dimensional methods, including blade and vane

definition, supported by methods based on the potential flow analysis

Advanced viscous 3D calculations on the basis of the Reynolds equations,

including also complex structural calculations

The role of each of these steps needs to be clearly understood for a successful design and

the value of each must not be underrated compared with the others.

The first step includes the preliminary designs, and also some preliminary design

optimization studies, using a variety of one-dimensional design and analysis tools. These

tools attempt to model the basic flow physics at distinct stations through the

17

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

turbomachine where important events occur or where important thermodynamic and fluid

dynamic book-keeping must be carried out, Japikse and Baines [53]. Usually these 21H

analyses utilize the basic conservation laws (mass, momentum and energy) applied either

along a mean streamline through the machine or along a critical streamline.

Even though the description of this initial step sounds essentially simple, in reality, at this

level, most of the important design decisions must be made, and it is normally the case

that such decisions are entirely based on empirical data and the designer’s experience. It

is difficult, however, to predict, at this level, whether one or the other design choice is

better suited for the application of the machine, and therefore this process involves much

trial and error before a final decision is made.

The design solutions for a basic concept are normally derived for the design point (see

Figure 3-1), and several trial geometries are usually generated.

21H

After the basic one-dimensional configuration has been laid out (i.e. the typical passage

height and mean-line velocity triangles, flow rates, speeds, and power levels are

calculated through the one-dimensional analysis), the designer can proceed to the

specification of the two-dimensional problem, i.e. to specify the actual blade shapes.

Circular arcs, multiple circular arcs, arcs plus straight lines, and polynomials are the most

commonly employed design choices. Traditionally, the first and often most appropriate

tool is the two-dimensional inviscid flow-field analysis. Such calculations enable one to

confront the most essential elements of the flow process, from a physical standpoint, with

reasonably practical numerical calculations.

Equally important at this stage of the design is the choice of important constructive

parameters of the full rotor. In this respect, an excellent summary was presented by

Stepanoff [100], where empirical formulations for critical design parameters, such as the

213H

Finally, the design process is normally concluded with the performance evaluation of the

rotor, and usually one analyzes the so-called “system characteristic”, which is the map of

the system’s behavior at various operating points. All important parameters reflecting the

performance, i.e. head and efficiency, are observed before one or the other design is

chosen. A typical system characteristic of an axial fan is depicted in Figure 3-1.

214H

18

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

Figure 3-1 The “design point” (point of maximum efficiency) on a typical system characteristic for

an axial fan

The design point is the point of maximum efficiency on the efficiency curve depicted in

Figure 3-1, and the corresponding flow rate is the design flow, Qdesign . Most designs are

215H

normally evaluated in this manner and the best performing design is usually a blend

between good efficiency rates and pressure (or head) which can be achieved by the

impeller.

Most designs today require optimization to ensure good performance under diverse

operating conditions. Therefore, to carry out an optimization requires repeated analysis,

such as the ones mentioned above, under many different conditions, and the cost of the

two- and three-dimensional analysis flow field calculation is excessive for this approach.

Hence two- and three-dimensional tools are used for detailed refinement of a basic

concept that has been previously optimized with effective mean-line calculations.

The operation of any turbomachine is directly dependent upon changes in the working

fluid’s angular momentum as it crosses individual blade rows. A deeper insight into

turbomachinery mechanics may be gained from consideration of the flow changes and

forces exerted within these individual blade rows. The complex three-dimensional flow

can be treated as the superposition of a number of two-dimensional flows. This leads to a

more manageable blade design and profile selection techniques.

For an axial impeller with hub and casing, it is reasonable to assume that the stream

surfaces at the entry to the annulus remain cylindrical as they progress through the

19

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

machine. Each cylindrical meridional stream surface will then intersect the blade row to

form a circumferential array of blade shapes known as cascade, Lewis [68]. If one such

216H

to a cartesian one x, y , then it would have the aspect depicted in Figure 3-2.

217H

unwraping of the

cylindrical surface

from cylindrical to

cartesian coordinate

system through y=rθ

Figure 3-2 Development of a cylindrical blade-to-blade section into an infinite rectilinear cascade in

the cartesian coordinate system. Adapted from Lewis [68] 218H

The full three-dimensional flow could then be modeled by a series of such plane two-

dimensional cascades, one for each of the cylindrical meridional surfaces equally spaced

between hub and casing.

To obtain truly two-dimensional flow, one would require a cascade of infinite extent.

However, cascades must be limited in size, and careful design is needed to ensure that at

least the central regions (where the flow analyses and measurements are made) operate

with approximately two-dimensional flow.

In particular for axial-flow machines of high hub-to-tip ratio, radial velocities are

negligible and, to a close approximation, the flow may be described as two-dimensional,

Dixon [29]. The flow in a cascade is then a reasonable model of the flow in the machine.

219H

For impellers with lower hub-to-tip ratios, the blades will normally have an appreciable

amount of twist along their length, the amount depending upon the chosen design. Even

so, data obtained from two-dimensional cascades can still be of value to a designer

requiring the performance at discrete blade sections of such blade rows.

20

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

Considering the two-dimensional airfoil cascade depicted in Figure 3-2, the fluid

20H

approaches the cascade from far upstream with a velocity w1 at an angle 1 and leaves far

downstream the cascade with a velocity w2 at 2 . The following analysis assumes that the

fluid is incompressible and the flow is steady. The first assumption is valid since most of

the cascade tests and measurements, even for axial compressors, are made for low Mach

numbers, i.e. below 0.3, when the compressibility effects can be neglected. However, a

correlation between the compressible and incompressible cascades is possible and the

available literature offers detailed techniques on doing so, Csnady [22].

21H

With regard to the steady flow assumption, this is valid for an isolated cascade row, but at

the rotor level, relative motions between successive blade rows appear, causing

unsteadiness.

An explanatory scheme of a portion of an isolated cascade is depicted in Figure 3-3.

2H

with respect to w , which is the velocity of the undisturbed flow, far in front and far

behind the profile. In a cascade, the action of the fluid on the profile can be considered

similar to that taking place on an airfoil in a wind tunnel, provided that the velocity of the

undisturbed flow w is an average of the inlet and outlet relative velocities, Bohl [12]:

23H

21

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

2

w w2u wm

w w 1u

2

and tan (3.1)

m

2 w1u w2u

2

In this case, the velocity vectors diagram has the aspect depicted in Figure 3-4.

24H

Two forces can be recognized as acting upon the profile: one in the axial direction ( Fax )

and the other in the tangential direction ( Ft ). These forces are exerted by unit depth of

blade upon the fluid, exactly equal and opposite to the forces exerted by the fluid upon

the unit depth of blade.

If p1 is the pressure upstream the cascade and p2 is the pressure downstream, then

Fax p2 p1 bt (3.2)

When analyzing the velocity diagrams in Figure 3-4, then the following relations can be

25H

w12 wu21 wm2 1

(3.3)

w22 wu22 wm2 2

Because of the incompressibility assumption made in the previous paragraph, the

meridional component of the flow velocity is conserved along the profile, and thus

Q

wm1 wm 2 (3.4)

bt

The energy balance between the inlet and the outlet of the cascade results in

22

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

p1 w12 p2 w22

(3.5)

2 2

With Eqs. (3.3) and (3.4) inserted into Eq. (3.5), the following expression for the axial

26H 27H 28H

Fax

2

bt wu21 wu22

2

bt w12 sin 2 1 w22 sin 2 2 (3.6)

An expression for the tangential force can be obtained by means of the impulse equation:

Ft m wu1 wu 2 (3.7)

where m Q is the mass flow. The volume flow rate is determined from Eq.(3.4): 29H

Q wmbt

Further manipulation of Eq. (3.7) yields 230H

The resulting force acting on the profile, in the absence of friction (see Figure 3-3), is the 231H

lift, and after replacing expressions (3.6) and (3.8), this force can be written as:

23H 23H

Equation (3.9) defines the lift force acting upon a profile in an isolated cascade, in the

234H

ideal case of the frictionless flow. If one considers instead the real case of the flow with

friction, then also a drag force, D, can be included in the force balance.

Considering the unit depth of a cascade blade, the lift force acts perpendicular to the flow

direction, while the drag is parallel to the flow, as indicated in Figure 3-3, and both forces

235H

(3.10)

D Ft cos Fax sin

237H 238H

The aerodynamic properties of the airfoil are usually presented in terms of dimensionless

coefficients, i.e. the lift and drag coefficients, defined as

23

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

L

CL

w2 l

2 (3.11)

D

CD

w2 l

2

The calculation of the lift force acting on an airfoil can be achieved also by considering

the circulation in a large circuit enclosing the airfoil, and hence, the velocity far in front

the cascade:

L w (3.12)

Equation (3.12) expresses the Kutta–Joukowski theorem for a single isolated airfoil for

239H

The circulation is the contour integral of velocity around a closed curve and inserting Eq.

(3.9) into Eq. (3.12) yields:

240H 241H

bt wu1 wu 2 (3.13)

The Kutta–Joukowski theorem is directly related to the flow at the trailing edge of the

airfoil, Hughes and Brighton [52], and it can be reformulated as follows: for a given

24H

airfoil, at a specified angle of attack, the value of the circulation about the airfoil is such

that the flow leaves the trailing edge smoothly.

Apart from the Kutta–Joukowski theorem, the literature includes numerous methods and

further approximations for the calculation of the lift and drag, for particular families of

airfoils, and an excellent review was given by Thwaites, [102], in his chapter 5.

243H

There are two approaches to blade profile selection which are often referred to as the

direct (analysis) method and the inverse (synthesis) method, Lewis [68]. 24H

The direct method assumes the profile generation through systematic geometrical

techniques, and then series containing geometries generated as such are analyzed by

means of measurements or theoretical investigation, resulting in the determination of the

most efficient profiles and their detailed aerodynamic performance. In engineering

practice, the systematic procedures of the direct method offer a special attraction for

building up experimental and theoretical data for closely related families of cascades.

24

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

Several direct design methods for generating two-dimensional blade shapes, applicable

for the design of axial turbomachinery cascades, were developed by Korakianitis [60]. 245H

The first method specifies the airfoil shapes with analytical polynomials and it shows that

continuous curvature and continuous slope of curvature are necessary conditions to

minimize the possibility of flow separation and to lead to improved blade designs. The

second method specifies airfoil shapes with parametric fourth-order polynomials, which

result in continuous slope-of-curvature airfoils, with smooth Mach numbers and pressure

distributions. Finally, a third method is presented, in which the airfoil shapes are

specified by using a mixture of analytical polynomials and mapping the airfoil surfaces

from a desirable curvature distribution. This method provides blade surfaces with

desirable performance in very few direct-design iterations.

The inverse method allows the designer to specify the velocity or pressure distribution

along the blade surface and to calculate the profile accordingly.

When prescribing velocity distributions (PVD), two options are available for airfoil or

cascade design by the inverse design method.

The first method permits the designer to specify a prescribed velocity distribution (PVD),

and therefore pressure distribution, on both the upper and lower surfaces, resulting in

automatic synthesis of the entire profile to meet this specification. Although this sounds

attractive, the procedure has its drawbacks. At worst, the designer may choose an

impossible PVD for which there is no corresponding blade profile. At best, the chosen

PVD may lead to an unsuitable profile thickness distribution.

In view of the latter problems, Wilkinson [111] proposed another option for airfoil design

246H

whereby the PVD is limited to the more aerodynamically sensitive upper surface only,

but a profile thickness is also prescribed. In effect, the inverse method then involves

designing the camber line shape required to achieve the desired PVD on the upper

surface. The velocity distribution on the lower surface is simply accepted to adjust freely

to whatever it will. Such design techniques were developed by Ackert [2], Railly [89],

247H 248H

249H 250H

prescribed pressure distribution, have been the subject of many theoretical and

computational studies and have greatly matured in recent years. They are nowadays

25

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

reckoned to be a valuable alternative to the iterative use of direct methods, de Vito et. al.

[25]. Although the latter allow an easier control of various geometric parameters to meet

251H

the design requirements, they demand a lot of physical insight by the designer to predict

the changes required to reach a target pressure distribution. Hence inverse methods allow

a more direct interaction with the blade pressure distribution and require much less

computational effort. In this respect, Leonard and Van den Braembussche [66] and 25H

Demeulenaere and Van den Braembussche [26], made remarkable efforts to develop an

253H

efficient inverse design method based on Euler solvers. Their method allows the

definition of the 3D geometry required to obtain a prescribed pressure distribution on the

whole blade surface. Also, by prescribing the blade loading distribution (i.e. the

difference between the blade suction and pressure surfaces), the profile geometry can be

inversely computed, Dang et. al., [23] [105].

254H 25H

Since most of the parameters that are critical for the design process of axial fans rely

entirely on the airfoil theory and wind-tunnel measurements of such profiles, the author

feels that a brief explanation of the main characteristics of these airfoils is helpful.

An airfoil can be conceived of as a curved camber line upon which a profile thickness

distribution is symmetrically superimposed, Figure 3-5. 256H

The traditional approach to the aerodynamical design of axial-flow compressors and fans

is to use various families of airfoils as the basis for blade design, and probably the most

popular ones belong to the NACA family and the British C-series. The development of

26

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

the NACA profiles started in 1929 in the Langley variable-density wind tunnel. There

exists a huge data base on these profiles and their measured characteristics, and probably

the most comprehensive material on the topic is the summary of Abbot and Von

Doenhoff [1]. 257H

Several series of NACA profiles can be identified (commonly used in the design of axial

compressors and fans are the four and five digit series) and each of these series is

characterized by a different thickness distribution along the mean camber line. All airfoils

in the NACA 4-digit family were designed for the same basic thickness distribution and

the amount of camber (curvature) was systematically varied to produce the family of

related airfoils. By extending the investigation to airfoils having the same thickness

distribution, but moving the positions of the maximum camber far forward on the airfoil,

the 5-digit series was obtained.

The process of combining the mean-line and thickness distribution to obtain the NACA

airfoils is described in Figure 3-6.

258H

Figure 3-6 Sample calculations for the derivation of the NACA 65 series. Adapted from Abbot and

Von Doenhoff [1] 259H

Ordinates of the cambered airfoil are obtained by laying off the thickness distribution

perpendicular to the mean-line. If xU and yU represent the abscissa and ordinate,

respectively, of a typical point of the upper surface of the airfoil and yt is the ordinate of

coordinates are given by the following relations:

xU x yt sin

(3.14)

yU y yt cos

Analogous relations for the lower surface can be derived.

In Eq. (3.14), yt is the thickness distribution and detailed formulations of the applied

260H

thicknesses to all NACA families are presented in Abbot’s summary of airfoil data.

27

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

In the process of designing axial impellers, the initial analyses of the flow through the

blade rows assume that the velocity vectors along a blade are constrained to lie along the

mean camber line of the profile. Although this is true exactly on the surface of the profile,

the flow is not generally constrained completely by the blade shape through the entire

flow channel, Wright [112].261H

Since the flow pattern is highly dependent on the geometric characteristics of the channel,

i.e. blade-to-blade distance, it becomes obvious that whatever camber angle value is

prescribed through the design method, it will not coincide with the actual flow angle,

especially in the blade passage. To increase the accuracy of the angle prediction and the

design calculations, one needs to formulate a quantitative model of this flow behavior.

The most important geometric parameters, critical for profile design, are depicted in

Figure 3-5 and the differences between the designed blade angles and the actual flow

26H

The difference between the prescribed blade angle and the flow angle achieved at

the inlet section is called the incidence, i 1 1 .

The difference between the blade and flow angles, at the outlet section, is called

the deviation, 2 2 . The deviation reflects the failure to achieve the

expected level of turning of the flow vector from the ideal angle and it is a

function of the geometric and velocity properties of the blade cascade.

There are many empirical correlations available in the literature, which are focused on the

prediction of the flow pattern in the channel by applying various values for the incidence

and deviation angles.

As far as the incidence angle is considered, it frequently refers to the particular inlet angle

for which the leading edge (LE) stagnation point is situated precisely on the end of the

profile camber line, i.e. i 0 , and this is the particular case of the “shock- free” inlet (see

Figure 3-7b).

263H

28

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

For greater or smaller inlet angles, the stagnation point will move instead on to the lower

or upper surface respectively, as illustrated in Figure 3-7a and c. The so-called “shock-

264H

free” inlet flow condition ensures the smoothest entry conditions into the cascade and is

thus likely to be close to the “minimum loss” situation, Lewis [68]. In the present work, a

265H

Including in the design process correlations for the deviation angles accounts for a good

prediction, from the design stage, of the actual flow angles. In this respect, Lieblein [70]

26H

proposed corrections for the NACA 65 series and the British C4 profiles, in terms of

empirical formulations for the incidence and deviation.

Howell [51] developed an analytical method that allowed the modeling of the flow angles

267H

with excellent results: by fixing a “shock-free” entrance of the flow in the cascade, the

vector field can be resolved by expressing the trailing edge (TE) deviation as a simple

function of the channel proportions. Howell’s correlation can be written as follows:

m

1

(3.15)

2

where represents the cascade solidity and is defined as the ratio between the chord

l

length of the profile and the blade spacing (pitch): . is the camber turning angle:

t

1 2

The coefficient m is calculated according to the following expression:

29

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

m 0.41 0.2 1

100

Another empirical correlation for the deviation, derived also for the zero incidence

condition, was proposed by Carter and Hughes, [17]: 268H

1 2

(3.16)

4

The outlet flow angle predicted by Carter’s rule is then

2 2 (3.17)

Finally, McKenzie [76] also suggested an empirical formulation of the deviation angle:

269H

1

1.1 0.31 3

(3.18)

It can be concluded that, with respect to the prediction of the flow angles at critical

stations on the profile, such as the trailing edge, the literature offers numerous methods

(such as the ones presented above) to correct the design angles, so that the desired flow–

blade congruency is achieved. However, most of these methods are empirical and were

determined for a specified class of axial impellers, i.e. axial compressors, and it is the

choice of the designer which of the formulations should be included in the design

process. In the present work, the value of the deviation was assumed to be zero, since it

was found more appropriate for thin profiles; it will be shown in the following section

that, for the fan application of interest for the present work, thin profiles are better suited

rather than airfoils. However, the possibility to assume other values for the deviation is

incorporated in the mathematical routine used for the profile calculation and any of the

presented formulations in Eqs. (3.15), (3.16) and (3.18) can be employed.

270H 271H 27H

The total pressure loss of a cascade depends on many factors. Under normal operating

conditions, the boundary layer on the suction (upper) surface will be much thicker than

that on the pressure (lower) surface of the airfoil, and hence, to a first approximation, the

latter can be neglected. Then, the thickness of the wake (and therefore the total pressure

loss) will be primarily determined by that fraction of the suction surface over which the

velocity difference is negative, since that is where the majority of the boundary layer

growth occurs, Brennen [13] and Lakshminarayana [63]. In other words, the suction

273H 274H

30

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

surface has a large pressure rise which can cause the viscous boundary layer to separate,

and this is not desirable due to the associated higher losses of the total pressure.

One should visualize the deceleration (diffusion) of the fluid from wmax to w2, where wmax

is the maximum velocity on the suction surface. Hence, a direct correlation between the

total pressure loss and the diffusion (caused by the deceleration of the fluid) on the upper

side is useful. According to Lieblein et al. [72], the amount of diffusion is given by the

275H

wmax w2

DF (3.19)

wmax

Lieblein argued the momentum thickness of the wake, θ, should be correlated with the

diffusion factor. In this respect, several measurements were performed for the NACA65

and British C4 series profiles and it was found out that a value of DF = 0.6 imposes an

upper limit for the allowable diffusion factors, as indicated in Figure 3-8. Above this

276H

value, a dramatic increase in the diffusion in the boundary layer will occur.

Figure 3-8 Wake momentum thickness versus overall diffusion factor DF for NACA 65 and C4

airfoils at minimum loss incidence. Adapted from Lewis [68] 27H

278H

and offers valuable information, from the design stage, on the performance of the

prescribed profile, since a good design should be characterized by limited deceleration in

the flow velocity. Moreover, even though at the design stage a frictionless flow is

31

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

assumed, by calculating the DF and imposing limitations to its value one can assume that

the real flow with friction will cause fewer losses due to these preventive measurements

taken from the early design stage.

In the previous section, the most important design considerations in the field of axial

impellers were reviewed and it can be concluded that such methods have the benefit of

the simple two-dimensional flow modeling. However, the designer must not forget that in

truth, the flow in turbomachines is really three-dimensional and any design

considerations based on the 2D cascade theory result in a simplified flow prediction,

which overlooks the 3D character of the flow and its side effects, i.e. secondary flows.

Probably the most notable effort in this area was made by Wu [113], who recognized the

279H

truly three-dimensional nature of the flow in turbomachines and proposed the remarkably

sophisticated computational scheme illustrated in Figure 3-9.

280H

Figure 3-9 S-1 and S-2 stream surface according to Wu. Adapted from Lewis [68]

281H

subsonic and supersonic turbomachines having arbitrary hub and casing shapes and a

finite number of blades. The solution of the three-dimensional direct and inverse problem

was obtained by investigating appropriate combinations of flows on relative stream

32

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

surfaces whose intersections with a z-plane, either upstream of or somewhere inside the

blade row, form a circular arc or a radial line.

The fully 3D flow was treated by the superposition of a number of 2D flows, but in this

case located on the S-1 and S-2 stream surfaces. S-2 surfaces follow the primary fluid

deflection caused by the blade profile curvature and its associated aerodynamic loading.

Due to the variation of static pressure between the convex surface of the 1st blade and the

concave surface of the 2nd blade, the curvature of each S-2 stream surface will vary, thus

calling for the introduction of several surfaces for adequate modeling, Lewis [68]. 28H

The S-1 surfaces are equivalent to the meridional surfaces of revolution which are

allowed to twist in order to accommodate the fluid movements caused by the variations

of the S-2 surfaces.

The S-1 and S-2 surfaces represent, in fact, a selection of the true stream surfaces passing

through the blade row. By solving equations of motion for the flows on this adaptable

model, successively improved estimates of the S-1 and S-2 surfaces may be obtained,

allowing also the fluid dynamic coupling between them. The iterative approach to

achieve a good estimate of the fully three-dimensional flow was very comprehensively

laid out by Wu [113].

283H

The first major computational scheme based on Wu’s work dealt with axisymmetric

meridional flow located on an averaged S-2 surface, Marsh [74]. 284H

Also based on Wu’s treatment of the flow in turbomachines, Denton [27] developed a

285H

time-marching method, which practically initiated the path for design codes for

compressible three-dimensional flow analysis. Similar efforts were made by Potts [86], 286H

who also developed a time-marching method to study the twisting of the S-1 surfaces

within highly swept turbine cascades.

A second aspect of the three-dimensional character of the flow in turbomachines is the

appearance of the so-called “secondary flows”, which are of great importance in axial

turbomachinery aerodynamics, where boundary layer growth that occurred on the casing

and hub walls of the machine are deflected by the blade rows. Many studies have been

entirely dedicated to the investigation of the boundary layer on the annulus walls of axial

flow machines and it has been concluded that axial impellers operate at nominal

conditions with significant boundary layer separation, Lieblein [71] and Schlichting [94].

287H 28H

33

3. Survey of the available design methods for axial impellers

2B

The separation in the boundary layer is an important issue for the design of axial

turbomachinery blading and major attempts at understanding and solving the complicated

three-dimensional flows which appear due to this separation have been made, Horlock

and Lakshminarayana [49] and Hawthorne and Novak [46]. However, it is generally

289H 290H

agreed that classical boundary layer considerations alone are insufficient for capturing the

full 3D nature of the secondary flows, and full CFD calculations of the whole flow are

generally required, Horlock [50]. 291H

The presence of the 3D secondary flows impacts directly on the performance of the

impeller and therefore methods of controlling the separation phenomenon have to be

included in the design process. One such method is to predict, from the early design

stage, the location where the separation might occur. In this respect, Ramirez Camacho

and Manzanares Filho [90] developed a model for the cascade computation of axial

29H

impellers, able to predict the separation point near the TE and reattaching the flow by

introducing fictitious velocities to achieve the viscous effect of the attached flow.

Other possible methods to control the separation flows are either to introduce a tip

clearance, Gbadebo et al. [41], or through the suction (aspiration) of the boundary layer

293H

on the suction surface of the profile and at the end walls, Gbadebo et al. [42] and 294H

Kerrebrock et al. [59]. Even though both methods yield in immediate increase in the

295H

impeller performance, the first method appears more attractive, especially in the case of

axial fans, since the tip clearance is a design parameter that is fairly easy to control, due

to the general constructive simplicity of the fan casing, which dictates the size of the

clearance. However, an optimum tip gap has to be found and it is normally in the range of

a few percent of the chord length.

Finally, also accounting for the three-dimensional character of the flow, is the meridional

analysis, which is particularly focused on the flow prediction in axial machines. Since the

meridional analysis of axial fans is of major importance for the design strategy proposed

in the present work, a detailed explanation of the concept will be presented in the

following chapter.

34

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

3B

The layout and design strategy proposed in the present work is focused on the blade

design of axial fans that operate under low-pressure regimes, delivering high flow rates,

and thus deals with fans normally employed for cooling purposes.

This method involves a preliminary design stage, based on mean-line performance

calculations, and also a detailed design stage, which includes three-dimensional flow

considerations to generate the initial blade profiles.

Essentially, the design procedure presented below is a design-point method, meaning that

the runner blade is derived for a single point on the system characteristic depicted in

Figure 3-1, i.e. the point of maximum efficiency corresponding to the design flow

296H

rate, Qdesign .

method. However, the presented design strategy is a combined inverse–direct method

used in an iterative process to generate an actual geometry, where one can specify the

fluid dynamic boundary conditions and the governing equations, and then, effect

solutions for the geometry required to establish these conditions. The approach is very

appealing from the design point of view.

The goal of the design strategy is to deliver high-performance designs for direct industrial

applications. For this, the constructive dimensions and operating regime of an impeller,

currently manufactured in industry and used for engine cooling purposes, are employed

as a reference solution. These details will be referred to later.

As it was referred in the introduction to section 3.1, the first step in the proposed design

297H

strategy is the one-dimensional flow analysis, i.e. the mean-line calculation. The

advantage of this approach is that Euler’s equation for turbomachinery can be resolved

35

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

for each cascade independently. Consequently, the first design consideration is that the

impeller is a succession of such cascades, at different distances from the hub center, and

the mean-line calculations will be performed for each cascade individually.

In the case of axial impellers, the flow particles enter and leave the blade at the same

section, and therefore u1 u2 u . In this case, Euler’s equation states that the total

pressure difference accomplished by a profile assuming inviscid, incompressible flow has

a static and a dynamic component:

pt w12 w2 2 c2 2 c12

2

(4.1)

static dynamic

pressure pressure

The first design assumption (confirmed by both CFD and experiments) is that the fluid

has an axial entry in the cascade. This assumption remains valid as long as the entrance in

the impeller is not disturbed, and hence there are no stator vanes in front of the fan blades

which dictate the flow inlet in the rotor.

A simplified scheme of the mean-line calculation is presented in Figure 4-1.

298H

36

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

Figure 4-1 Mean-line calculation of the velocity diagram with axial entry

Assuming axial entry of the fluid simplifies the inlet velocity diagram (point 1 in the

above sketch). The tangential component of the absolute flow velocity is zero, i.e. cu1 0 ,

hence there is no pre-whirl induced in the cascade. This implies that

wu1 u (4.2)

With this assumption, Eq.(4.1) becomes

29H

pt

2

w 2

u1

wu22 cu22

2

u 2 wu22 u wu 2 u u wu 2 ucu 2

2

(4.3)

On analyzing the velocity diagrams in Figure 4-1, the following expressions can be

30H

immediately stated for the inlet and outlet blade angles in the cascade:

37

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

wm wm

tan 1 (4.4)

wu1 u

wm

tan 2 (4.5)

wu 2

Basically, provided that the flow rate and rotational speed are known, by assuming axial

entry, the inlet blade angle can be calculated.

The meridional component of the relative velocity wm is conserved along the blade

profile, and therefore through out the cascade, and is equal to the ratio of the flow rate to

the flow area. The flow area of the cascade is in fact the flow area corresponding to the

entire impeller, and therefore the area of the ring between the hub and tip sections of the

rotor:

A rt 2 rh2 (4.6)

Qd 1

tan 1 (4.7)

rt 2 rh2 2 rn

For to the derivation of the outlet blade angles, more assumptions are required to solve

the velocity diagram at the cascade exit. This matter will be addressed in the following

section.

In the previous section, the expression for the inlet blade angle was determined according

to the axial entry assumption. This angle is a function of the design point, i.e. flow rate

and rotational speed of the cascade, and, of course, the radius.

Equation (4.1) expresses the total pressure difference achieved by the axial cascade,

301H

according to Euler. It can be observed that it has two components: a static pressure

difference, given by the relative flow velocity gradient, and a dynamic component, given

by the absolute flow velocity gradient.

What normally is of interest for the system characteristic of an axial rotor is the static

pressure component:

ps

2

w 1

2

w2 2

2

w 2

u1

wu22

2

u 2

wu22 (4.8)

38

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

If the tangential component of the relative flow velocity at the cascade exit is rewritten

according to Eq. (4.5), then 302H

wm wm

tan 2 wu 2 (4.9)

wu 2 tan 2

Inserting Eq. (4.9) into Eq. (4.8), the following expression of the static pressure

30H 304H

difference is established:

wm2

Ps u 2

(4.10)

2 tan 2 2

According to Figure 3-1, the static pressure difference is maximum when the flow rate is

305H

zero and, conversely, the flow rate is maxim at zero pressure difference. If Eq. (4.10) is 306H

written for the highest possible flow rate, i.e. zero pressure difference, then it yields

wm2 2

Qmax 1

u2 4 2 2 2

r n (4.11)

tan 2

2

A tan 2 2

2

Qmax 2 rn A tan 2 (4.12)

From Eq. (4.12) it can immediately be observed that the maximum flow rate, at a

307H

2 (r ) 90 deg ( Qmax ). Of course, this value is radius dependent, hence it can be

implemented at one blade section only. The question is which section is best suited for

this angle. Applying this angle means, in terms of velocity diagrams, that wu 2 0 and

represents the swirl at the exit of the cascade and the product cu 2 r is a direct measure of

the blade loading. For an axial cascade, the total pressure difference in Eq. (4.3) can be 308H

pt ucu 2 2 rn cu 2 Kcu 2 r (4.13)

where K 2 n is a constant and after further equating, it can be concluded that the

swirl velocity downstream of the cascade is inversely proportional to the rotor radius:

K

cu 2 (4.14)

r

39

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

Since the swirl velocity cu 2 expresses losses and, according to Eq. (4.13) high swirl

309H

means high blade loading, a good design should limit this component. Moreover, through

deceleration of cu 2 , a recovery in the static pressure can be achieved. Since the hub

section has the highest expected loading and here the profile should not turn more than

axial, this is where a blade angle of 90o is best suited.

For the other blade radii, the outlet blade angles will be determined recurrently, using this

startup value at the hub.

The previous paragraphs were mainly concerned with the mean-line calculations leading

to the determination of the inlet blade angles, and, by assuming the “maximum flow rate”

condition at the hub section, the derivation of the outlet blade angle at this section was

achieved.

The present section deals with the three-dimensional treatment of the flow in an axial fan

and further design assumptions will be made according to this complex flow treatment.

The starting point of the three-dimensional treatment was made in Figure 2-4, where the

310H

notions of “cascade” and “meridional flow” were introduced. It was shown that fully

three-dimensional flow can be treated, for a more manageable framework, as an

axisymmetric or circumferentially averaged meridional flow, and a series of

superimposed cascade flows to define blade profiles at selected sections from hub to tip.

Previously, the fluid motion through the blade rows was assumed to be two-dimensional

in the sense that radial (span-wise) velocities do not exist. This is not an unreasonable

assumption for axial rotors with a high hub-to-tip ratio. However, for ratios less than 0.8,

the radial velocities through a blade row may become appreciable, the consequent

redistribution of mass flow (with respect to radius) seriously affecting the outlet velocity

profile and, thus, the flow angle distribution, Dixon [29]. Such radial flows are mainly

31H

caused by the imbalance between the strong centrifugal forces exerted on the fluid and

the radial pressures. The flow in an annular passage, in which there is no radial

component of the velocity, with circular streamlines and cylindrical surfaces and which is

axisymmetric, is commonly know as “radial equilibrium flow”. The treatment of the

three-dimensional flow in an axial turbomachine based on the assumption that only radial

40

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

flow which may occur is completed within a blade row, the flow outside the row being in

equilibrium, is the radial equilibrium method, Dixon [29]. Since the correct

312H

understanding of this method is central for the proposed design strategy, the author feels

that a brief explanation of the theoretical treatment behind is necessary.

For a small fluid element of mass dm , of unit depth and at an angle d from the axis,

rotating about the axis, with a tangential velocity cu at a radius r , the radial equilibrium

(centrifugal force is balanced by the pressure force), as indicated in Figure 4-2 b, can be

31H

stated as follows:

1 dp cu2

(4.15)

dr r

For incompressible flow, which is normally the case for axial fans, the so – called

stagnation pressure can be defined as

po p cx2 cr2 cu2

(4.16)

2 2 2

where cx represents the axial velocity, cr is the radial component of the velocity, and cu

represents the tangential velocity.

Since the radial equilibrium condition, as stated previously, imposes cr 0 , on

differentiating Eq. (4.16) with respect to r one obtains

314H

1 dp0 1 dp dc dc

cx x cu u (4.17)

dr dr dr dr

dp

Introducing from Eq. (4.15), then

dr

315H

41

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

1 dp0 dc c d rcu

cx x u (4.18)

dr dr r dr

Equation (4.18) states the equation for the radial equilibrium condition for incompressible

316H

flows. The key element for the present work in this equation was the loading given by the

product cu r and the most important design choices were made with respect to this

term.

Equation (4.18) can be applied to two sets of problems:

317H

1) the indirect problem (design method), in which the tangential (swirl) velocity is

specified and the axial velocity is calculated accordingly.

2) the direct problem, in which the swirl angle is given and the axial and tangential

velocities are calculated.

The proposed design strategy is focused on the first method.

The indirect design problem requires specification of the tangential velocity, calculating

the resulting axial velocity. There are several approaches to this problem and they are

generally focused on the product cu r in Eq. (4.18).

318H

Probably the most popular design assumption is that the product cu r is constant, also

known as the “free-vortex flow” assumption. Essentially, this assumption implies that

cu r k (4.19)

When considering an element of the ideal inviscid flow rotating about a fixed axis, as

indicated in Figure 4-2b, then the circulation (the vortex strength) is involved:

319H

cu (4.20)

2 r

The vorticity at a point is defined as the ratio between the limiting value of the circulation

and the elementary area A , as A becomes vanishing small:

lim (4.21)

A 0 A

d cu d cu r d r d cu rd

42

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

dc c

d u u rd dr (4.22)

dr r

321H

d 1 d cu r

(4.23)

dA r dr

d cu r

If the vorticity expressed in Eq.(4.23) is zero, then 0 , with the result that

dr

32H

cu r const (4.24)

Equation (4.24) embodies the absolute condition to be satisfied by a free-vortex flow.

32H

Returning to the expression for the total pressure difference achieved by an axial cascade

in Eq. (4.3), the free-vortex flow assumption can then immediately be translated into a

324H

pt ucu 2 k cu 2 r (4.25)

As already mentioned, this is probably the most popular design choice for axial fans,

especially when the two-dimensional airfoil theory is employed in the design process.

However, the use of the three-dimensional analysis with axial fans is not limited only to

this assumption, and the available literature makes references to several other

possibilities, often referred to as “non-free” vortex flow (forced vortex) or “solid body”,

Dixon [29], Lewis [68], Augnier [6], and Carolus [16]. Essentially, these inverse methods

325H 326H 327H 328H

assume some variation of the product cu r , deriving the axial velocity according to this

cu const .Even though such methods are mentioned, little use has been of them and the

effects of employing a non-free vortex design assumption are not well known.

At this point in the analysis, it becomes of great interest to establish which design choice,

whether free- or non-free vortex flow, delivers, for a specified fan configuration, the best-

performing design. This leads to the motivation for the present work: to determine, for a

given class of fans, the optimum vortex design specification.

43

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

axial fan blade

Typical design methods for axial fans make intensive use of the free-vortex flow

assumption. Basically, this implies that along the blade, a constant total pressure

difference, according to Euler’s equation, is applied, as indicated in Eq. (4.25).

329H

For the area of interest in the present work, i.e. axial fans used for cooling purposes, the

work of Wallis [108] is relevant, in which an inlet guide vane–rotor–stator installation

30H

was investigated. The system considered was of the free-vortex flow type and several

important parameters, e.g. lift-to-drag ratio, were fixed. This resulted in explicit

expressions for efficiency and total pressure rise as a function of tip speed ratio, hub

ratio, and downstream losses.

Focusing on the same class of fan application, Dugao et al. [30] considered the numerical

31H

free-vortex design method, a considerable improvement in efficiency was achieved

compared with an existing installation. As an additional advantage, it was found that the

noise emission from the fan installation was reduced.

It thus seems that the free-vortex solution is preferred by most designers in the field.

There is little information available on design techniques which make use of an arbitrary-

vortex assumption, and the differences that such a design consideration might bring about

when compared with the classical zero-vorticity condition.

One of the few references in this respect relates to the work of Sørensen et al. [98] and

32H

[99], which deals with combining an optimization algorithm with the arbitrary vortex

3H

flow, so that a wider range of design alternatives are investigated in an efficient manner.

The fixed design parameters were the tip radius, the number of blades and the tip

clearance. The design variables included the hub radius, the chord distribution, the

camber angle, the total pressure rise and the velocity diagrams, and a series of constraints

were applied to these parameters. The objective function was the efficiency of the rotor,

considered over a design interval of flow rates, not only at the design point, and the

design flow rate was fixed in the centre of the interval. The goal of the optimization was

to maximize the mean value of the aerodynamic fan efficiency.

44

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

Since good prospects of employing a non-free vortex flow condition are created by such

results, it seems desirable to undertake the development of a design strategy which, for a

specified fan application, determines whether improvements in the performance can be

achieved by employing the free-vortex flow or whether some variation is better suited.

Hence the motivation of the present analysis was to determine the optimum pressure

distribution along an axial fan blade, by considering both free and non-free vortex flow

assumptions, and parameterizing the solution according to the fan specifications.

Considering various sections of the blade (hub, tip and an intermediate section), as

indicated in Figure 4-3, the free-vortex assumption can be written in terms of the total

34H

Pt ,r

1 (4.26)

Pt ,h

The total pressure differences mentioned in Eq. (4.26) are defined as stated in Eq. (4.13).

35H 36H

According to Carolus [16], employing such an assumption introduces, from the design

37H

stage, a correct blade loading (pressure distribution) at the designated section. A proper

blade loading at the tip section (where the radius is larger) demands considerably smaller

values of cu2 (responsible for the swirl) than at the hub section (where the radius is

smaller). This means that close to the hub the absolute flow, characterized by higher cu2,

has to be redirected to the tip section, thus keeping the product cu 2 r constant. The desired

effect of such a consideration is that the flow detachments will occur earlier and hence

the hub section will be more stressed than the tip.

45

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

The free-vortex assumption in Eq. (4.26) is directly connected to the swirl component at

38H

the exit of the cascade and it is employed whenever airfoil profiles are used in designing

an axial flow machine. However, there is nothing in the airfoil theory to prevent the

desired head distribution along the blade radius.

By changing the pressure distribution in the span-wise direction, designs providing higher

overall performances may be achieved with a small impact on the dimensions of the

swirl. Hence it is the designer’s task to investigate, for the specified design parameters

and operating conditions, the optimum pressure distribution which balances the

efficiency and the swirl component at the same time.

In the present study, it was assumed that starting from the hub and advancing to the tip,

the Eulerian pressure difference variation can be expressed as a function of the radius:

Pt ,r

f (r ) (4.27)

Pt ,h

By employing the expression for the total pressure difference in Eq. (4.3) and making use

39H

of the outlet velocity diagram in Figure 4-1, a recurrent relationship between the outlet

340H

wm wm

f (r )2 rh n 2 rh n 2 rn 2 rn

tan 2 h tan 2 r

wm wm

r 2 n r 2 f (r )rh2 f (r )rh

tan 2 r tan 2 h

1 2 n 2 r 1

r f (r )rh2 f (r ) h (4.28)

tan 2 r rwm r tan 2 h

Equation (4.28) can be further simplified with another assumption made in the previous

341H

section, namely that at the hub, the outlet blade angle is 90o:

1 2 n 2

r f (r )rh2 (4.29)

tan 2 r rwm

It can be seen in Eq. (4.29) that the expression for the outlet blade angle can be

342H

parameterized according to the prescribed variation of the total pressure difference in the

span-wise direction. The use of such a formulation can be further extended if the equation

can be expressed in terms of relevant geometric parameters for the design process, such

as the hub ratio.

46

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

As already mentioned in the introduction to the present chapter, the major focus of the

present work is the design of axial fans used for cooling purposes (engine cooling fans).

This is an important factor for the parameterization of the pressure variation, since such

devices are normally low-pressure high-flow delivering machines. Hence the pressure

should not be increased to unrealistic values in the range where the impeller will never

operate anyway. For example, for the reference model and its constructional details,

according to the Cordier diagram, a realistic operational value of the pressure difference

achieved by the impeller is below 4000 Pa. Also, rapid variations of the pressure from

one section to the next, which might result from employing exponential or higher order

polynomial laws for the function f r , should be avoided.

immediate impact that this expression has on the value of the outlet blade angle. The

angle, at the specified blade radius, delivered by f (r ) should be a realistic value (no

negative values) and should be incorporated in the geometry of the full blade, i.e. to

respect the trend imposed by the neighboring sections and not induce sudden twists in the

blade aspect.

Furthermore, the aim of the present formulation is to derive an expression in which, by

changing one factor, the desired pressure variation along the blade can be achieved.

An iterative routine, in which all of the above constraints were incorporated and solved

simultaneously, gave the following exact expression for the function f (r ) :

x

rtip

r rh 1

1.35

f (r ) x (4.30)

rhub

The parameter to be changed during the design process is x . It can be immediately seen

that for x 0 the classical assumption of constant pressure (free-vortex flow) is

employed, since f (r ) 1 and Eq. (4.26) comes about. For x 1 the pressure variation is

34H

linear with the inverse of the hub ratio, for x 2 parabolic, and so on. The exponential

1.35 in Eq. (4.30) yielded from pressure variation considerations. This exponential was

34H

iterated until a smooth pressure increase from one section to the next was obtained; with

higher degree exponentials the increase was to steep.

Equation (4.30) then becomes:

345H

47

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

2 n 2 rtip

x

1

h

1.35

r x r r 1 rh2 (4.31)

tan 2 r rwm rhub

Equation (4.31) allows the determination of the outlet blade angle, at the specified radius,

346H

based on the pressure variation from hub to tip. Essentially, this variation has a major

influence on the resulting blade shape and as a consequence, an optimum profile demands

proper prescription of the pressure. Therefore, several test cases of axial fan designs will

be investigated, including the classical constant pressure assumption, in order to

determine, for specified dimensions and operating conditions, the optimum pressure

variation in the span-wise direction, which delivers high efficiency and small losses due

to the swirl component.

Three designs, corresponding to x 0 DesignI , x 1 DesignII and x 2 DesignIII

respectively, are derived and their performance is assessed against the reference model.

The computation of the blade shape is carried out considering the cartesian system

depicted in Figure 4-4. The inlet profile angle is 1 , at an intermediate point along the

347H

profile m , and the outlet of the profile is described by 2 . Each of the three stations on

Basically, the blade shape at a specified section can be readily computed by imputing the

y coordinates and angle distribution (y) , since

48

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

y

tan ( y ) (4.32)

x

To apply effectively any driving action on the fluid, the blade angle is increased from 1

along any given blade section. The increase from 1 to 2 can be estimated by any type

of variation, either linear or higher degree polynomial.

At this point, the presented design strategy requires another assumption, connected to the

blade angle distribution along the calculated profile. It will be assumed that this

distribution is parabolic since, according to Pascu and Epple [82], this assumption is

348H

appropriate for ducted axial fans. Pascu and Epple showed by means of streamline

analysis performed on the designed blades, that very good agreement between the actual

flow angles and the prescribed blade angles is achieved by employing such a design

consideration.

Considering such a distribution ( y ) Ay 2 By C :

y y1 2

y ym m (4.33)

y y2 1

Since both the inlet and outlet conditions are fixed, the blade shape computation is

carried out with only one degree of freedom given by ( m , ym ) . The geometry is iterated

until the axial chord constraints are matched and also corrected for abrupt flow

parameters.

Considering the flow over a profile, the fluid approaches the profile from upstream with a

velocity w1 at an angle 1 and leaves the profile with a velocity w2 at an angle 2 , as

indicated in Figure 3-3.

349H

49

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

Figure 4-5 Forces acting upon the profile for small gliding angles

Figure 4-5 repeats the analysis on the forces acting upon a profile from Figure 3-3, except

350H 351H

that it underlines the presence of , often referred to as the “gliding” angle of the profile,

which is defined as the drag-to-lift ratio:

D CD

(4.34)

L CL

In the literature, several optimum values are proposed based on extensive experimental

results, Eckert [34], and it is normally the case that the values of the gliding angle are

352H

very small. The value of is an important design choice since it denotes the impeller

losses by friction, and thus influences the cascade efficiency and hence the overall

performance of the rotor, as it will be shown in the following paragraphs. The design

value of will be chosen based on this analysis.

Compared with the ideal case of the friction-less flow, when 0 , the drag force

introduced by in the direction of w (Figure 4-5) calls for a decrease in the pressure

35H

difference.

According to the analysis of the forces acting upon a profile presented in section 3.2.1,354H

the lift force, acting perpendicular to the flow direction, has an axial and a tangential

component. The axial component is given by Eq.(3.2):35H

50

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

Considering the case of the flow with friction (the real flow), then the tangential force can

be written as a function of the gliding angle:

Fax

tan 90

Ft

Fax 1

(4.36)

Ft tan

356H

Ft wmbt wu1 wu 2

Combining (4.36) and (3.8), the following expression for the axial force acting upon the

357H 358H

profile yields

wmbt wu1 wu 2

Fax (4.37)

tan

Substituting Eq. (4.37) into Eq. (4.35), the pressure difference caused by considering the

359H 360H

Fax wm wu1 wu 2

Ps , fr (4.38)

bt tan

tan tan

tan (4.39)

1 tan tan

For very small gliding angles, which is normally the case, Bohl [12], the above

361H

tan

tan (4.40)

1 tan

To facilitate correspondence with the classical cascade evaluation techniques, the

following annotations will be employed, according to Vavra [106]:

362H

wm

(4.41)

u

wu1 wu 2

(4.42)

u

51

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

The theoretical degree of reaction is given by the ratio of the static pressure difference to

the total pressure gradient, achieved by the cascade, according to Euler’s equation, for the

case of frictionless flow, as defined by (4.8) and (4.3), respectively:

36H 364H

Ps

R (4.43)

Pt

Writing these pressure differences for the case of axial entry, the reaction becomes

2

w 2

u1 wu22 1 wu1 wu 2

R (4.44)

ucu 2 2 u

Further more, the expression for the angle , as given in Eq. (3.1), can also be

365H

wm

tan (4.45)

wu1 wu 2 R

2

Further equating (4.38), the static pressure difference for the case of flow with friction

36H

can be rewritten as

1

Ps , fr u 2 R (4.46)

R

By putting 0 in Eq. (4.46), the static pressure difference, for the ideal, frictionless

367H

1

Ps u 2 (4.47)

R

At this point, a first evaluation of the cascade performance is possible, since expressions

for both the ideal (for the case of frictionless flow) and the real (flow with friction) static

pressure differences are derived. The ratio between the two terms is referred as the static-

to-static cascade efficiency and it has the following form:

Ps , fr 1

ss R

(4.48)

Ps R

1

52

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

Equation (4.48) expresses the losses in the static-to-static profile efficiency caused by

368H

considering the drag force acting upon the profile. For the case of ideal frictionless flow,

this efficiency is maximum, i.e. 1, as can be readily observed by putting 0 in the

above formulation.

Compared with the ideal flow, in the case of flow with friction, the drag force arises in

the direction of the fluid and, due to this force, work is dissipated, and according to Eck

[32] this can be formulated as

369H

From Eq. (4.49), the expression for the decrease in the total pressure caused by the drag

370H

Dw

Ploss (4.50)

wmbt

The definition of the drag force was stated in Eq.(3.11): 371H

w2 lb

D CD (4.51)

2

Equation (4.50) then becomes

372H

w w2 l

Ploss CD (4.52)

wm 2 t

Returning to the definition of the tangential component of the lift force acting upon the

profile, given by Eq. (3.10), and including the definitions of the lift and drag forces, as

37H

374H

Ft L sin D cos CL w2 lb sin CD w2 lb cos (4.53)

2 2

However, the tangential force is also given by Eq. (3.8): 375H

Ft wm bt wu1 wu 2

wmbt wu1 wu 2 CL w2 lb sin CD w2 lb cos

2 2

Further manipulations of the above equation yield

53

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

From the velocity triangle depicted in Figure 3-4, it can be written that

376H

wm w sin (4.55)

The peripheral relative velocity gradient is

wu wu1 wu 2

Equation (4.54) then becomes

37H

2wu l 1

CL 1 (4.56)

w t tan

The left-hand term in Eq. (4.56) can be rewritten in terms of the total pressure difference,

378H

2Pt l

CL 1

uw t tan

l

Pt uw CL 1 (4.57)

2 t tan

Equation (4.57) expresses the total pressure difference achieved by an axial profile

380H

cascade when considering the real case of flow with friction and the drag force acting

accordingly upon the profile. This equation is essential for the design process of the

cascade, since it contains one of the most important design parameters, i.e. the cascade

l

solidity , and it allows the calculation of the optimum solidity, according to the

t

prescribed pressure.

On considering the ideal flow without friction, when the gilding angle is zero, then

l

Pt uw CL (4.58)

2 t

In the present work, the cascade solidities were fixed to the values of the reference

impeller (presented below, in Figure 4-7) and with respect to this parameter a design

381H

choice could not be made. However, in the absence of such constraints, Eq. (4.58) can be

382H

At this stage, it is of interest to see how much of the total pressure gradient of the ideal

cascade is reflected in the losses induced by the drag force, expressed in Eq.(4.52):

38H

54

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

Ploss w2

(4.59)

Pt uwm

Equation (4.59) can be written in terms of the reaction in Eq. (4.44) and the

384H 385H

386H

R2

Ploss Pt (4.60)

At this point, a second performance parameter of the cascade can be defined as the ratio

between the total pressure difference of a real cascade and the total pressure difference of

an ideal cascade, i.e. total-to-total efficiency:

Pt Ploss R2

t t 1 (4.61)

Pt

387H

The nature of the fan applications of interest for the present work imposes low-pressure

regimes, and at low-pressure, attributing values to the gliding angle, others than zero, will

only cause additional losses. Hence the present study assumes 0 . However, the

possibility of including in the design process other values of is incorporated in the

mathematical routine used for the profile computation, and blade shapes according to

such an assumption can be computed.

Another parameter central for the design process is the camber angle, . Basically, the

resulting shape indicated in Figure 4-4 is the camber line and by attributing some

38H

thickness around it, a profile is obtained. The thickness distribution is again an important

design choice and one has to carefully weigh whether profiling really pays. Most design

methods for axial fans use a variable thickness for the profile (profiling the blade shape),

according to the thickness distribution functions existing in the literature, i.e. NACA and

British-C4 series, Wallis [109]. However, such methods were originally proposed for

389H

axial flow water turbines, where the operating regime requires high pressures. For axial

fans, where the pressures are in the range of thousands of Pa, a variable thickness along

the camber is unnecessary since according to Eckert [34], when measuring two impellers

390H

55

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

operating at low-pressure, one with airfoil profiles and the other with constant thickness

(thin profiles), their performances are identical, as shown in Figure 4-6.

391H

Figure 4-6 Performance curves for constant thickness blade and an airfoil, Eckert [34]

392H

Another restriction for profiling results from the narrow pitching induced, i.e. the

distance between two consecutive profiles in a cascade is considerably reduced, and thus,

the cross-section becomes fairly restricted due to profiling, and the high speeds

generated, with the corresponding high friction, often offset the advantages of profiling.

Hence, for the calculated profiles, constant thickness will be applied, thus introducing the

last assumption made at the design stage: due to constant thickness distribution, there will

be no point of maximum thickness, and hence the camber angles, at all points on the

profile, will coincide with the computed blade angles.

In the previous sections, all the design assumptions required to compute the blade shape

were made. For summary purposes and also to help with a better understanding of all the

steps of the proposed design strategy, a simplified flow chart of the design steps is

presented in Figure 4-7.

39H

56

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

blade angle 1 loading considerations Outlet blade

angle at the hub 2,h

- arbitrary vortex-flow assumption

- parameterization of the total pressure difference in span-wise direction

Outlet blade angle at specified section 2 r

- constant thickness camber angles = blade angles

l

- initial values for the cascade solidity correspond to the reference

t

impeller

section [mm]

8 147 (hub) 2 r 121

187 t 130

227 z 137

280 (tip) 144

All of these steps have to be solved for each individual cascade. The DS incorporates all

the design parameters and their derivation into a mathematical routine, which delivers the

blade profile at the specified section, as indicated in Figure 4-8.

394H

57

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

START

Cascade Parameters

air , rhub 147mm, rtip 280mm

n 3000rpm, Qdesign 4m3 / s

z , b, l1 r

Velocity triangles

u 2 rn

Qdesign

wm

rt 2 rh2

wm

wu1 u axial entry tan 1

wu1

NO YES

Hub

section

2 n 2 rtip

x

1

1.35

r - x r - r 1 rh2 2,h 90 deg

tan 2 r rwm

h

r

hub

wm

tan 2 wu 2

wu 2

( m , ym )

(continued)

58

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

( y ) Ay 2 By C

y y1 2

y ym m

y y2 1

2

y i

1

x y tan y

xi xi 1 x

y x y

x2 x1 y2 y1

2 2

l2

(continued)

59

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

( m , ym )

l1 l2

wm

w y

sin y

max w y w2

DF

max w y

Ps

2

wu21 wu22 , Pt ucu 2

0 0

D0

wm 1 wu1 wu 2 Ploss 0

,R

u 2 u

ss 1

R2 Ploss wmbt

Ploss Pt , D t t 1

w

Ps , fr 1

R , 1 R

2

ss

Ps R t t

1

60

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

As already stated in the previous section, the proper blade shapes for the fan application

presently investigated are the thin profiles, since it was shown that, at low-pressures,

assuming a variable thickness around the camber line does not bring any improvements

in the performance of the impellers. For such thin profiles, all design assumptions are

made for the case of the frictionless flow 0 and accordingly, the DS completes its

routine on the right branch of the mathematical structure depicted in Figure 4-8. 395H

However, for different impeller applications, such as the axial compressors, which

operate at considerably higher pressures, airfoils are more appropriate according to the

available literature, Aungier [6]. In this case, assuming at the design stage that 0

396H

might deliver profiles with higher aerodynamical performance and an optimum value of

can be determined by switching the profile calculations to the left branch of the DS.

4.9 DS output

According to the cascade dimensions mentioned in Step 4 in Figure 4-7, the resulting

397H

398H

61

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

inlet

It can be observed that at the hub section, the camber lines of the three models are

identical, since the inlet angle is always given by the axial entry condition and the outlet

angle is always fixed at 90o. The differences in the computed profiles become obvious at

some distance from the hub, and half-way through the span the characteristic shape of the

camber lines is noticeable, i.e. “S” shape (see sections r227 and r280).

The solidity (the ratio l/t) of the reference varies with the radius, as indicated in Figure

39H

62

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

The computed blade angles, for all three designs, and also the angle distributions of the

reference profiles, are presented in Figure 4-11.

40H

inlet

63

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

Again, the remark regarding the identical angle distribution at the hub sections applies.

Moreover, it can be observed that the reference cascades are characterized by large angle

gradients, from the inlet to the exit from the cascade, especially from mid-span on, and

the immediate result of such a design assumption can be observed in the relative flow

velocity distributions, as indicated below in Figure 4-12.

401H

The reference model is characterized by velocity distributions with huge gradients, very

unlikely to be achieved by the actual flow, according to Carnot’s basic principles for

hydraulic machinery to achieve its maximum efficiency. One of these principles states

that: “the fluid flow should be such that there is no decay, no turbulence, and no sudden

velocity reduction”, Epple [38].

The proposed designs, independent of the corresponding pressure variation, have the

calculated velocities in a fairly uniform range. This is a first indication of the

64

4. Proposed design strategy for axial fans

3B

improvements which can be achieved with the proposed design strategy, right from the

design stage. The same conclusion can also be drawn by analyzing the values of the

diffusion factor, as expressed in Eq. (3.19), shown in Figure 4-13.

402H 403H

All of the above results underline the advantage, at least from a design point of view, of

employing the proposed design strategy for the derivation of the blade profiles according

to the operational requirements of the impeller, rather than to use predefined profiles,

which may have been derived for completely different flow conditions, with pressure

and/or velocity values other than those required during normal operation. However, this

statement is made, as already mentioned, strictly from the design point of view, and it

remains to be seen whether the proposed models perform better according to the flow

analysis, and this will be discussed in the following chapter.

65

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

4B

Previously, the first key element of the design strategy was presented, i.e. a design solver

which computes the optimum blade profile for axial fans, based entirely on the impeller

specifications, and does not make use of predefined profiles, such as those in airfoil

databases.

The next important step in the design process is numerical flow analysis, and the present

work makes intensive use of CFD for the investigation of the proposed designs. There are

many advantages in considering CFD as an integrated part of the design and optimization

process. First, CFD presents the perfect opportunity to study specific terms in the

governing flow equations in a more detailed fashion. Second, CFD complements

experimental and analytical approaches by providing an alternative cost-effective mean

of simulating real fluid flows and substantially reduces lead times and costs in designs

and production compared with an experimental-based approach. With the technological

improvements and competition requiring a higher degree of optimal designs and as new

high-technology applications demand the precise prediction of flow behaviors, CFD is

becoming an integral part of the engineering design and analysis environment and it is

intensively used to predict the performance of new designs before they are manufactured.

66

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

Figure 5-1 CFD analysis frame work. Adapted from Tu and Liu [103]

40H

An outline of the most important steps involved in full CFD analysis is depicted in Figure

405H

In the previous chapter, a design system for axial fans was presented, which basically

consisted of a quasi-three-dimensional blade design module to generate the initial blading

geometries (detailed design stage), after a mean-line performance calculation was

completed (preliminary design stage). This design system was employed to derive an

optimum solution for a reference impeller (RI), i.e. a baseline model of an axial fan

currently used in the automotive industry for engine cooling purposes. This impeller was

made available by the manufacturer, and for flow investigation purposes, the CAD model

of the blade was also provided.

For the present investigation, four mathematical models of axial fans were derived,

corresponding to x 0 , x 1 and x 2 , and also the reference blade. All four models

are characterized by the same constructive dimension: Dhub 294mm , Dtip 560mm

(corresponding hub ratio 0.5), and all impellers have eight blades. Since the reference

blade was characterized by a thickness of approximately 3mm, when building the CAD

model of the new blades, a constant thickness of 3.2mm was applied symmetrically to the

camber lines presented in Figure 4-9.

406H

67

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

and x 2 DesignIII are presented bellow:

a) b)

The characteristic “S” shape of the new designs can be readily observed, especially

towards the tip section of the rotor, while the reference profile is characterized by circular

profiles. The CAD models of the three new designs were built with Pro/Engineer

Wildfire 3.0 [121].

407H

All four impellers were placed inside a pipe with a tip clearance of approximately 3.5%

from the chord length at the tip section, i.e. 5mm, and hence D pipe 570mm . To bring the

simulation results closer to real-life operating conditions, two extra components were

added to the CAD model: at the inlet of the impeller a rig section long enough that the

flow entering the impeller domain can be considered fully developed (the length of the

rig section was chosen as 3D pipe ), and at the outlet (ambient) another pipe with a length

2 D pipe was included. An exemplary depiction of the CAD models is shown in Figure 5-3.

408H

68

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

Following the flow chart depicted in Figure 5-1, the next step in the numerical flow

409H

analysis is the mesh generation of the mathematical model, and probably the most

important matter to be addressed at this level is the mesh-independent results.

Theoretically, the errors in the solution related to the grid must disappear for an

increasing number of grid points. Hence, also from a theoretical point of view, the finer

the mesh, the more accurate are the solutions, and often it is very difficult to determine

the level of fine enough grids, owing to computational time and resources issues. Hence

the motivation of the following investigation was the determination of the optimum grid

structure and size so that mesh-independent results are obtained, with no limitation from

the available computational resources.

All grids were generated using ANSYS ICEM 11.0 [118], applying the Generalized Grid

410H

generate a set of meshes for different sections of a problem using any tools or mesh

structure within each component. The individual grids can then be combined in a single

model. For the present models, due to the complexity of the impeller models, tetrahedral

69

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

elements were chosen. However, tetrahedral cells are not desirable near walls if the

boundary layer needs to be resolved because the first grid point must be very close to the

wall while relatively large grid sizes can be used in the directions parallel to the wall.

These requirements lead to long thin tetrahedra, creating problems in the approximation

of diffusive fluxes, Ferziger and Perić [39]. For this reason, it is preferable that, during

41H

the meshing process, first a layer of prisms or hexahedra near solid boundaries is

generated, starting with a triangular or quadrilateral discretization of the surface, and on

top of this layer, a tetrahedral mesh is generated automatically in the remaining part of

the domain. This, however, depending on the number of the prismatic layers generated,

relates again to the mesh size issue.

Several meshes of the CAD model presented in Figure 5-3 were generated, with and

412H

without the prismatic layers, and the essential parameters for the fan performance, i.e.

torque in the shaft and the static pressure at the inlet of the impeller, were monitored

closely. The results are presented in Figure 5-4.

413H

For greater transparency, the investigated grid characteristics are summarized in the table

below.

70

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

Mesh 1 approx. 895,000 none

Mesh 2 approx. 1,455,000 none

Mesh 3 approx. 1,700,000 5 layers, initial height 0.09, exponential

growth from the wall

Mesh 4 approx. 2,000,000 10 layers, initial height 0.02, exponential

growth from the wall

Mesh 5 approx. 2,200,000 10 layers, initial height 0.09, linear growth

from the wall

Mesh 6 approx. 2,250,000 none

Mesh 7 approx. 3,000,000 10 layers, initial height 0.09, exponential

growth from the wall

Mesh 8 approx. 3,500,000 none

Mesh 9 approx. 5,500,000 7 layers, initial height 0.09, exponential

growth from the wall

Table 5-1 Mesh characteristics

It can be observed that both the pressure and the torque, for the meshes which do not

include prismatic layers, have strong peaks, and a reasonable trend for their variation as a

function of the grid size can not really be established. This aspect is avoided by

introducing the prismatic layers into the mesh generation process, and the variation of the

monitored parameters becomes fairly stable with increasing number of grid points.

Another parameter essential for the near-wall treatment isY , which basically represents

the dimensionless distance of the first node away from the wall, and for correct

assessment this value should be as small as possible. Considering all these delicate

matters of the near-flow wall treatment, Mesh 9 is found appropriate and hence the grid

characteristics mentioned in Table 5-1 will be employed in the following investigation. A

41H

detail of the mesh around the essential parts of the flow domain, i.e. blade and hub, is

depicted in Figure 5-5 and Figure 5-6.

415H 416H

71

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

Detail A

Detail A

Figure 5-6 Mesh detail indicating the smooth transition from structured to unstructured grid

The numerical simulations were carried out with the commercial code ANSYS CFX 11.0.

The simulation type was set initially to be steady. The fluid flow was set to be viscous

(air properties as an ideal gas were considered). The flow was solved with the Navier–

Stokes equations, assuming conservation of mass, momentum and energy.

wm Dtip

Typical values for the Reynolds number, calculated as Re were around

800,000. One of the main problems in turbulence modelling is the accurate prediction of

72

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

flow separation from a smooth surface. Standard two-equation turbulence models often

fail to predict the onset and the amount of flow separation under adverse pressure

gradient conditions. To avoid this problem, the model used in the present computations of

the air flow is the Shear Stress Transport model, Menter [77]. The model works by

417H

solving a turbulence/frequency-based model (k-ω) at the wall and k-ε model in the bulk

flow. A blending function ensures a smooth transition between the two models. The

interface between the different frames of reference is taken to be a Frozen Rotor. The

Frozen Rotor model has the advantage of being robust, using less computer resources

than the other frame change models, e.g. the stage interface model, which is not suitable

for applications with tight coupling of components and/or significant wake interaction

effects and may not accurately predict loading. The Frozen Rotor model treats the flow

from one component to the next by changing the frame of reference while maintaining

the relative position of the components. This model must be used for non-axisymmetric

flow domains, such as impeller/volute or classifier/casing.

An inlet boundary with specified mass flow was applied to the rig domain, flow direction

normal to the boundary condition and medium turbulence intensity (5%). A rotational

speed of 3000 rpm was applied to the fan domain. The outlet boundary was applied to the

ambient domain by specifying a 25oC temperature (air density 1.05 kg / m3 ). Typical

Mach numbers were around 0.25 (for Mach numbers below 0.3, the fluid can be

considered incompressible, Anderson [5]). Several simulations were carried out for all

418H

The simulations were completely converged; all runs reached the convergence criterion

(residual type RMS and residual target to default value 10–4). The convergence criterion

value can be increased, but this means also a considerable increase in the computational

time required and not at the cost of significant differences in results. Further, during the

simulations, the most important physical quantities, such as flow rate, pressure and

efficiency, were monitored and it was observed that all these relevant quantities

73

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

converged properly with the 10–4 residual target. All simulations were solved by parallel

running on 16 CPUs and the typical computation time required for full convergence is in

wall clock seconds of around 5 103 [122]. A detail of the convergence history is depicted

419H

420H

A large number of definitions of the efficiency of turbomachines have been given in the

literature, and the correct assessment of turbomachines, especially when it comes to

comparing the performance of more rotors, depends on defining appropriate performance

indicators.

For an axial fan with casing, where the power input to the rotor is in fact the power to the

shaft, the efficiency can be defined as

total (hydrodynamic) energy input to fluid in unit time

Efficiency

power input to coupling of shaft

In other words, the efficiency of the impeller can be written as the ratio of the hydraulic

power to the shaft power:

74

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

hydraulic power

Efficiency (5.1)

shaft power

Ideally, the two parameters should be equal so that the efficiency of the machine is 1.

The shaft power developed by the impeller can be written as the product of the angular

speed and the required torque:

Pshaft M (5.2)

If the total-to-static pressure difference between the inlet and the outlet of the impeller is

measured, then the hydraulic power is

Phydraulic Ps Q

When the total pressure difference across the impeller is considered, then the hydraulic

power becomes

Phydraulic PQ

t

Accordingly, two efficiencies, conveniently named total – to static and total – to – total

efficiencies, can be defined:

Ps Q

t s

M (5.3)

PQ

t t t

M

Also of high relevance for practical use is the polytropic efficiency (small stage

efficiency), defined as

poly

1 ln (5.4)

ln

p2 T

where the air ratio is 1.4 , and 2

p1 T1

After post – processing the results of the converged numerical simulations, the following

system characteristics for the investigated models were obtained:

75

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

Figure 5-8 a) Variation of the static pressure difference with the flow rate; b) variation of the torque

with the flow rate

In Figure 5-8a, the system characteristic curves for all four models are plotted. It can be

421H

observed that, while the proposed designs are characterized by similar values of the static

pressure difference between the inlet and the outlet of the impellers, the reference model

has higher pressure values. Since, according to Eq. (5.3), the second parameter, which

42H

essentially influences the efficiency of the impeller, is the torque, in Figure 5-8b the

423H

resulting torque along the rotation axis is plotted. Again, similar values are obtained for

the proposed designs, and much higher values for the reference. There is one point,

however, on both curves, in the behavior of the reference where a sudden decrease in

pressure and torque occurs. Even so, this does not influence the efficiency trends, as

indicated in Figure 5-9.

42H

76

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

425H 426H

designs, at least for the first interval of the investigated flow range. For higher flow rates

however, this is no longer the case, since the differences in the calculated efficiencies

become substantial, i.e. Design III has an absolute increase in efficiency of 16% for 8

m3/s, compared with Design I. The same can be concluded also from the total – to – total

and polytropic efficiency curves, as shown in Figure 5-10, and absolute increases of 13%

427H

At this point, the advantage of considering at the design stage the possibility of a non-free

vortex flow (i.e. assuming that in the span-wise direction the total pressure is not

constant) becomes obvious. Employing such a design assumption impacts directly on the

extension of the flow range under which the fan can effectively operate, since, according

to Figure 5-9 and Figure 5-10, for higher flow rates, Design I – characterized by the free-

428H 429H

vortex flow assumption – shows a rapid decrease in efficiency, whereas Design III,

corresponding to x = 2 non-free vortex flow assumption, performs substantially better.

Since in practice fans often operate far from the design point (and often with low

efficiency), Bolton [14], it therefore seems desirable to choose the design that, for an

430H

interval of flow rates, performs better not only at the design point but also away from this

value.

Hence it can be concluded that for the investigated fan specifications, i.e. with a hub ratio

of 0.5, the best performing design is delivered by the x=2 design assumption, and

77

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

with the hub ratio, from hub to tip:

2

Pt ,r r

2 tip r rh 1

1.35

(5.5)

Pt ,h rhub

Further more, on comparing the performances of the suggested design and the reference

impeller, significant absolute increases can be observed for Design III: up to 18% in

total-to-static efficiency (which is the relevant performance indicator), up to 4% in the

total-to-total efficiency, and up to 9% in the polytropic efficiency. Hence, as a solution to

the optimization problem of the reference impeller, Design III is suggested.

Note: since the obvious trend in the variation of the x parameter in Eq. (4.30) is to

431H

increase it, a fourth design, corresponding to x 2.5 , was investigated and it was

observed that a further increase in the pressure distribution (more than parabolic with

rtip / rhub ) is not recommended, since decreases in all performance indicators, compared

In the previous section, the best performing solution to the optimization problem of a

reference impeller of known dimensions was found, and it was shown that, for the

indicated constructive dimensions (hub ratio 0.5), the optimum variation of the total

pressure difference along the blade can be parameterized according to the equation

2

Pt ,r r

2 tip r rh 1

1.35

(5.6)

Pt ,h rhub

The efficiency curves presented in Figure 5-9 and Figure 5-10 show substantial increases

432H 43H

in the performance of Design III, and represent the integrated values of the efficiency at

the cascade level. They can therefore be referred to as a quantitative analysis.

A qualitative analysis may be the flow aspect around the investigated blades, and this

matter is addressed in Figure 5-11. Even though, from the aspect point of view, the flow

43H

around the proposed designs is very similar, and compared with the reference case

appears much more attached to the blades, it is very difficult to draw conclusions about

the performance of the computed profiles from this cascade perspective. Hence the

motivation of the following section is to perform a thorough flow analysis, directly on the

78

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

single profiles, for both Design III and the reference case, so that the best performing

profile, from the aerodynamic point of view is determined.

reference

Design I (x=0)

Design II (x=1)

Figure 5-11 Velocity streamlines around the investigated models for Qdesign at r = 227 mm

79

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

In order to carry out the flow analysis over the investigated blade shapes, isolated profiles

were simulated so that the aerodynamic performance of the single profile was captured.

For all characteristic sections (hub, tip, and the two intermediate sections) the profiles of

both blades (Design III and the reference) were investigated, and the flow domain around

the profiles was large enough that the theoretical considerations of the undisturbed flow

far in front of and far behind the profile were satisfied. Before choosing the specific

lengths of the CAD model of the full flow domain around the profiles, several

simulations were carried out so that the dimensions of the domain at which the cascade

influence becomes negligible were chosen. The thickness of the profile was

approximately 10 mm and the flow was investigated on the center-line of the profile,

where no influence from the margins of the side walls was observed. The length of the

chord was kept to the values indicated above in Figure 4-7. A typical CAD of the profiles

435H

Figure 5-12 Model of the flow domain around the considered profiles

Special attention was paid to the setting of the boundary conditions. Excellent

convergence residuals were obtained by setting the following boundary conditions. At the

inlet section, the specified flow velocity wm is

80

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

Qdesign

wm 22.4m / s (5.7)

rt 2 rh2

At the outlet section of the domain, opening boundary to the ambient pressure was

applied; on the lateral surfaces of the domain, symmetry boundary was set; for the top

and bottom surfaces again symmetry was applied since it was observed that, after a

height of the domain of 20 times the chord length from top to bottom, the difference in

results between applying symmetry or opening boundary was negligible. The simulations

were carried out for viscous flow with air as ideal gas.

In order to calculate a qualitative mesh able to solve accurately the flow around the

profile, and especially the delicate problem of the flow in the near-wall regions, a grid

study was carried out. For this, three different grids were initially generated on the CAD

model depicted in Figure 5-12: a fine tetrahedral mesh (approx. 120,000 cells), a course

437H

hexagonal mesh (approx. 65,000 cells), and a fine hexagonal mesh (approx. 200,000

cells). The hexagonal grids were obtained by dividing the flow domain into blocks, which

were then subdivided into grids with good properties, and O-grid structured topology was

applied for the block corresponding to the profile. The two different hexagonal grids were

calculated by varying the height of the elements along the resulting edges (smaller

heights for the fine mesh).

81

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

Figure 5-13 Velocity streamlines for the reference profile at r = 280 mm: a) tetrahedral grid; b)

course hexagonal grid; c) fine hexagonal grid

On comparing the flow images, it can be immediately seen that whereas the streamlines

for the tetrahedral grid appear smooth and completely attached to the profile, for the

course hexagonal grid the trajectory deviates slightly and the streamlines are distancing

from the profile, and finally, in the case of the fine hexagonal grid, an obvious flow

detachment from the contour is plotted. As already mentioned in section 5.2, in the near-

438H

wall regions, the structured hexahedra or prismatic layers are preferred, since they resolve

the boundary layer more accurately, and for this reason, the fine hexahedra was used for

further calculations. A detail of the grid generated around the profile is depicted in Figure 439H

5-14.

82

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

Figure 5-14 Fine hexagonal grid for the reference profile at r=280 mm

A first analysis of the numerical results is the qualitative appreciation of the pressure

contours, as depicted in Figure 5-15. Pressure plots on the blade are helpful in identifying

40H

the different sources of losses in the system, such as the ones caused by sound sources,

i.e. the leading edge of the blade and areas close to tip section, due to the tip clearance,

Carolus et al. [91].

41H

r147 r147

TE

LE

r187 r187

83

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

r227 r227

r280 r280

Figure 5-15 Pressure contours around the reference (left) and Design III (right)

It can be concluded from Figure 5-15 that at all characteristic sections, the suction on the

42H

reference profile is much more pronounced than for Design III. Additionally, the size of

the suction on the reference profile increases with increase in the radius, indicating an

increase in the boundary layer thickness, causing an associated increase of the diffusion

on the profile. At the same time, the suction on the Design III profile decreases with

increase in the radius and the contour plots indicate fairly uniform distributions on the

upper surfaces, causing the small diffusion predicted at the design stage (see Figure 43H

4-13). Moreover, the “stagnation point” (see Figure 3-7) is much more pronounced on the

4H

reference profiles than on the Design III profiles, indicating that the latter are closer to

“the minimum loss situation”, Lewis [68]. 45H

Such pressure contours can be numerically quantified with the help of the so-called

pressure coefficient, defined as

p p1

CP (5.8)

1

w12

2

where p represents the static pressure along the profile, and p1 and w1 are the static

pressure and velocity, respectively, upstream of the cascade.

84

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

LE

Pressure (lower)

surface

TE

Suction (upper)

surface

CP, as defined in Eq. (5.8), is normally plotted against the dimensionless profile length,

46H

defined as the ratio between the position of the camber in the flow direction and the

chord, x / l .

The values of CP are always positive on the pressure (lower) side of the profiles and

negative on the suction side. As expected, the CP distributions agree with the results

depicted by contour plots in Figure 5-15: at all sections, the Design III profiles are

47H

smaller losses through diffusion in the flow around the profiles and, implicitly, higher

performance for the x = 2 shapes. There is one exception, however: at the hub section, CP

for Design III is higher in the region corresponding to the trailing edge, due to the forced

outlet angle, i.e. the maximum flow rate condition and, thus, 2 90 deg .

85

5. Numerical flow analysis

4B

Finally, the performance of the investigated profiles can be analyzed also from the

velocity distribution point of view, as shown in Figure 5-17. To maintain the consistency

48H

of the dimensionless analysis, a velocity coefficient is defined as the ratio of the flow

velocity around the profile to the velocity upstream of the cascade, w / w1 . At all sections,

the velocity coefficients corresponding to Design III indicate smooth variations along the

profile length, with no sudden gradients, compared with the reference shapes.

It can be therefore concluded that, from the profile analysis point of view, the design

strategy delivered aerodynamically superior shapes compared with the reference–

classical circular profiles with a symmetrical thickness distribution.

86

6. Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy

5B

5B

strategy

The most important outcome of the previous chapters is the substantial increase in the

efficiency of the newly designed impellers compared with the reference solution. After a

careful numerical flow analysis, it was concluded in chapter 5 that, for the investigated

49H

hub ratio, Design III, corresponding to the x 2 non-free vortex flow assumption, had

the best performance according to all performance indicators analyzed. Therefore, for the

final comparison with the reference impeller, this design was suggested.

However, the efficiency curves presented were purely numeric, and even though modern

CFD tools achieve excellent flow predictions, some idealization of the flow phenomena

with a significant impact on the performance is nevertheless being made. Hence the

motivation for the following investigation was to capture experimentally the efficiency

increase of the proposed design.

As already mentioned above, two impellers were experimentally investigated, i.e. the

reference impeller, made available by the manufacturer, and a prototype of the proposed

design.

In Figure 6-1a, the reference impeller is depicted, and in Figure 6-1b, a detail of the blade

450H 451H

87

6. Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy

5B

Figure 6-1 Detail of the reference impeller: a) the full rotor; b) detail of the blade shape at the tip

The impeller corresponding to Design III (x = 2) was built through the rapid prototyping

method [119]. Eight identical blades were manufactured according to the CAD model of

452H

the blade, shown in Figure 5-2, and captured in the hub. A detail of the prototype blades

453H

45H

88

6. Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy

5B

Both impellers are characterized by the same hub and tip diameters, i.e. Dhub 294mm

characteristic and efficiency curves of the two models, and hence the pressure and the

torque (required at the shaft) were measured for each of the investigated flow rate.

The experimental analysis was carried out according to the standard norm DIN 24 163

Part 2 for measurements on axial fans [28]: 45H

89

6. Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy

5B

Figure 6-3 Standard norm for measurements on axial impellers, DIN 24 163 Part 2

During the measurements, one of the two wind tunnel facilities available at LSTM

Erlangen was used, characterized by a diameter Dtunnel 2000mm and a total length

456H

The wind tunnel is equipped with an inlet orifice where Venturi nozzles with different

diameters can be fitted, so that the required inlet flow rate is achieved. For the

investigated impellers and their corresponding system characteristics, a nozzle with

Dnozzle 400mm was chosen. The flow was driven by a centrifugal blower, which was

controlled by a frequency converter so that the rotation of the fan could be adjusted. For

flow rate control purposes, the wind tunnel is equipped with a jalousies system, and by

opening/closing the jalousies, the different flow rates on the system characteristic were

achieved.

90

6. Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy

5B

The air stream was guided through a settling chamber consisting of alternate perforated

plates and honeycombs to ensure uniform flow conditions at the outlet of the tunnel,

which was smoothly connected to the impeller inlet.

At the outlet of the wind tunnel, a pipe with a diameter D pipe 560mm and a total length

L pipe 1200mm was installed, and inside this pipe, with a tip gap of approximately 1mm

In Figure 6-5, a detail of the inlet of the impeller is depicted, as it is mounted on the

457H

In Figure 6-6, the entire measuring facility is presented, with the pipe attached to the

458H

wind tunnel and the impeller discharging into the ambient. The impeller is belt driven by

a motor, which can be observed below the pipe, in the measuring scheme.

91

6. Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy

5B

efficiencies of the two impellers, for comparison purposes. As defined in chapter 5, the

459H

rotational speed and required torque to the shaft:

f P, Q, n, M (6.1)

At the nozzle inlet, both the static pressure at the wall and the ambient temperature were

measured, allowing the calculation of the inlet flow rate according to Bernoulli’s

92

6. Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy

5B

equation. The variation on the investigated flow range was achieved with the jalousies

system.

At a length of approximately 300 mm from the outlet of the tunnel and inlet in the

impellers, a second pressure tap was placed, which measured the pressure difference

between the static pressure at the wall and the ambient, Pinlet . Very close to the impeller

inlet and outlet, two additional thermocouples were placed, so that the temperature

difference achieved was calculated. Additionally, torque and rotational speed

measurements were carried out for each of the investigated flow rates.

A scheme of the measurement points is depicted in Figure 6-7.460H

Each pressure tap was connected to an OEI pressure scanner with pressure tubes. The

pressure measurements were made with a Höntzch pressure transducer and the pressure

scanner was used to switch from the first pressure channel (at the nozzle) to the second

(at the impeller inlet).

The torque measurements were done with an HBM T4WA-S3 torque sensor for nominal

values between 5Nm and 1kNm. The output was registered with an HBM SCOUT 55

amplifier.

Both the pressure transducer and torque amplifier were connected to integrating DVs type

DISA 55D31, with voltage output.

93

6. Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy

5B

The impellers were belt driven by an AC motor with a maxim rotation of 3500 rpm and a

nominal power of 18 kW, operating at 3000 rpm, and its control was achieved with a

frequency regulator.

The value of the rotational speed was always maintained at 3000 rpm and for these

readings a Hall-effect sensor, with maximum frequency of 10 MHz and TTL signal

output, was used.

The temperature was measured with K- Type thermocouples.

After the measurements on both impellers had been performed, the characteristic pressure

and torque values, depicted in Figure 6-8 were obtained. It can be observed that, for the

461H

investigated flow range, the pressure differences between the ambient and the static

pressure at the inlet of the impellers are similar, and in this respect, the behavior of the

two fans does not differ very much.

However, the same cannot be stated when analyzing the torque measured at the shaft,

presented in Figure 6-9.

462H

94

6. Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy

5B

It can be readily observed that, throughout the entire flow range, the reference impeller is

characterized by substantially higher torque values than Design III. In fact, starting from

the value of 3m3 / s the absolute increase in the measured torque of the reference is 6%,

Having completed the pressure difference and torque measurements, the efficiency of the

two impellers can be calculated as the total-to-static efficiency:

Ps Q

total to static (6.2)

M

On plotting the calculated efficiency for the two fans as expressed in Eq. (6.2), then the

463H

46H

95

6. Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy

5B

Design III is characterized throughout the entire flow range by a considerable increase in

the total-to-static efficiency, and for the interval 4 6 m3 / s this increase is maintained to

11% absolute difference compared with the efficiency curve of the reference. These

differences in the efficiency curves of the two impellers were, of course, expected, since

according to the previous two plots, with no significant difference in the achieved

pressure, Design III is characterized by much smaller torque values for all flow rates and,

according to Eq. (6.2), these are the two most important parameters which influence the

465H

efficiency. Essentially, these results can be generalized to the conclusion that the

proposed design strategy delivered a “torque-optimized” axial fan.

In Figure 6-11, the measured temperature differences for both fans are plotted.

46H

96

6. Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy

5B

It can be observed that the cooling capabilities of the impellers are very similar and the

temperature gradients achieved differ by a less than 0.5o for all flow rates investigated.

This result, coupled with the efficiency graphs depicted in Figure 6-10, confirms that the

467H

same cooling effect can be achieved by both impellers, but Design III requires much less

energy, thus resulting in direct cost savings.

In chapter 5 of the thesis, based on extensive numerical analysis, the optimum pressure

468H

distribution in the span-wise direction, and hence the optimum vortex-flow design

assumption, were proposed, and it was concluded that Design III was, according to the

numerical prediction, the best performing of the three investigated. These were the

premises for the experimental procedures presented in this chapter, where the reference

impeller and the suggested design were measured according to the standard DIN norm.

The experimental curves for the total-to-static efficiency showed a considerable increase

for Design III throughout the investigated flow range, thus confirming the numerical

advantage presented earlier. However, the numerical investigations of the four models

were carried out for boundary conditions completely different from the actual measuring

stand. Hence the motivation of the following analysis was to compare the numerical

97

6. Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy

5B

prediction of the behavior of the rotors, for the exact conditions of the experimental

setup, with the actual experimental data.

For this, a new CAD model, corresponding to the dimensions in Figure 6-4, was built and

469H

the flow domain of the impellers was adjusted to the same gap, i.e. 1 mm. The mesh

characteristics were kept at the values indicated in section 5.2. Data planes were placed in

470H

All of the relevant parameters that influence the performance of the fan were compared

with the measured values, for both the reference impeller and Design III, and excellent

agreement was found, as shown in Figure 6-12 _ Figure 6-14.

471H 472H

98

6. Experimental validation of the proposed design strategy

5B

99

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

6B

As mentioned in the introduction to this thesis, probably the most often addressed method

in the literature with respect to the concept of maximum efficiency is the Cordier

diagram. Essentially, this diagram is based on the head ( ) and flow ( ) coefficients,

which are defined, according to Strub and Eck [32], as

473H

cm

utip

(7.1)

2Y 2c

2t u2

utip utip

where Yt represents the total work achieved by the rotor, and cm is the meridional flow

velocity.

100

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

Figure 7-1 Different types of rotors as a function of the flow direction. Adapted from Bohl [12]

47H

For the following analysis, first the case of a radial rotor described by an outlet diameter

D2 D , as depicted in Figure 7-1, will be considered. In this case, the representative

475H

D2

A (7.2)

4

where utip represents the peripheral velocity at the exit of the rotor; in the case of radial

impellers, this is given by the peripheral velocity calculated at the tip section:

utip Dn (7.3)

The meridional flow velocity is given by the ratio between the flow rate and the flow

area:

Q 4Q

cm (7.4)

A D2

On inserting Eqs. (7.3) and (7.4) into Eq. (7.1), the expression for the flow coefficient

476H 47H 478H

becomes

4Q

(7.5)

D3n

2

From Eq. (7.5), a first formulation of the outlet diameter of a radial impeller can be

479H

derived:

101

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

D

4Q 3 (7.6)

2 1 1

n 3 3 3

2Yt

(7.7)

D 2n2

2

From Eq. (7.7), a second expression for the outlet diameter of the impeller can be

481H

derived:

1

D

2Yt 2 (7.8)

1

n 2

Of course, Eqs. (7.6) and (7.8) have to be equal, and hence482H 483H

1 1

4Q 3

2Yt 2 (7.9)

2 1 1 1

n 3 3 3

n 2

From Eq. (7.9), the following formulation for the rotational speed n can be extracted:

48H

3 1

n

2Yt 4 2 1 (7.10)

1 3 1

4Q 2 4 2

Cordier [21] defined the second ratio in Eq. (7.10) as the “speed” number, :

485H 486H

1

2

3

(7.11)

4

3

2Yt 4 1 2n Q

n 1

1

3

(7.12)

4Q 2

2 2Yt 4

Returning to the definitions of the pressure and flow coefficients as expressed in Eq. (7.1) 489H

, and switching the parameter of interest from the diameter D to the rotational speed n,

then the following identity is obtained:

1

4Q

2Y 2 (7.13)

D 3 2 1

D 2

102

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

From Eq. (7.13), the following expression for the diameter is derived:

490H

1 1

2Q 2 4 1

D 1 1 1

(7.14)

2Yt 4 2 2

1

4

1

(7.15)

2

Inserting Eq. (7.15) into Eq. (7.14), the following expression for the diameter number can

491H 492H

be established:

2Yt

4 2

D (7.16)

Q 2

The expressions of and in Eqs. (7.11) and (7.16), respectively, are employed in the

493H 49H

Cordier diagram, as shown in Figure 7-2. Cordier found that for the optimum pair of

495H

speed and diameter numbers opt , opt , any impeller is characterized by its highest

efficiency. On this diagram, the points corresponding to the low-pressure fans were

identified as being located mostly in the upper-half, i.e. opt 0.3 . By fitting a trend line

to cover all these points, the curve marked in Figure 7-2 was obtained, and this was

496H

termed the “probable” curve of maximum efficiency for axial fans. At this point, it

becomes very interesting to see how close to this curve, indicated by Cordier’s results for

the low-pressure range, the performance of Design III (x = 2) is at the design point. The

corresponding values of and for Design III are calculated according to Eqs. (7.11) 497H

and (7.16), respectively, using the characteristic fan dimensions and measured static

498H

103

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

Dtip 558mm

Dhub 294mm

n 3000rpm

Qdesign 4m3 / s

(see Figure 6-8)

50H

Table 7-1 Calculated speed and diameter numbers for Design III

104

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

On placing Design III on the Cordier diagram, according to the calculated values of the

speed and diameter numbers indicated in Table 7-1, it can be immediately observed that

501H

its efficiency lies exactly on the estimated curve of maximum efficiency, between the

curves for 80 and 85 % efficiency.

However, due to the very similar pressure differences measured for both impellers, i.e.

reference and Design III, as indicated in Figure 6-8, the position of the first impeller in

502H

reference 1.73

reference 1.04

Hence, at least from the Cordier diagram point of view, there is no noticeable difference

in the efficiencies of the two rotors, since they are both characterized by the same values

of the speed and diameter numbers, and they are already located on the curve of

maximum efficiency. Therefore, just from this perspective, there would have been no

need to optimize the reference, and this is definitely contradicted by the results presented

so far. This diagram uses only the rotor characteristic dimensions and operating

parameters, and there is no reference to crucial parameters for the performance of the

impeller, such as the torque. For this reason, for two axial fans with identical dimensions,

which deliver similar pressures at the considered flow rate, no difference in their

performance is obtained as far as the Cordier diagram is concerned. However, by

calculating an appropriate performance indicator, i.e. the total-to-static efficiency in

Figure 6-10, the advantage of one design over the other can be observed, and thus the

503H

At this stage of the analysis, some inconsistencies of the Cordier diagram, at least from

the point of view of axial impellers, should be discussed.

First, in the original publication of Cordier, there is no specification of which type of

pressure was being measured, either static or total. However, since it is common for fan

measurements, it can be assumed that it is either the total pressure or the total-to-static

pressure. The total pressure is usually obtained by measuring the total-to-static pressure

and by adding then the dynamic pressure at the exit of the volute. This dynamic

component is calculated as the ratio of the flow rate to the cross section area. In doing so,

the swirl, which is the dominant component of the flow velocity, is neglected. Therefore

105

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

the total pressure calculated such will not differ much from the measured total-to-static

pressure. From the above considerations it is clear that any performance indicator should

take into account the actual measured parameters and defined accordingly.

Second, the definition of the flow coefficient for axial impellers employed in this diagram

does not take into account the integral properties of these flow machines. As suggested

by Bohl [12], rather different expression of should be employed, which takes into

504H

consideration the fact that the characteristic flow area in this case is given by the ring

formed between the hub and the tip sections (see Figure 7-1), and not by the circle with

50H

4 Dt2 Dh2

Aaxial (7.17)

4

The flow coefficient should be then calculated as

4Q

axial (7.18)

2 Dt2 Dh2 Dt n

Due to such inconsistencies, the concept of maximum efficiency for axial impellers

cannot be properly quantified by the Cordier diagram. Hence the motivation of the

following analysis is to derive a valid formulation of the ideal efficiency of axial fans,

considering all crucial parameters that influence the performance of such devices.

In the previous section, it was mentioned that the Cordier diagram, as presented in Figure

506H

7-2, links the optimum operating conditions, i.e. flow rate and specific head, with the

optimum diameter and rotational speed, and the intersection reveals the point of

maximum efficiency. Theoretically, any single-stage turbomachine can be plotted on the

Cordier diagram with the help of the dimensionless speed and diameter numbers, as

introduced in Eqs. (7.11) and (7.15):

507H 508H

106

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

P

2 t 1

opt

Dtip

4 4

1

2 Q2 2

1

Q 2

opt 2 n 3

3

Pt 4

4

2

These numbers are formulated based on the flow ( ) and head ( ) coefficients, defined

at the impeller outlet. In the case of the radial rotor, as depicted exemplarily in Figure

509H

7-3, the impeller outlet coincides with the tip section, and thus

cm

utip

(7.19)

2Y 2c

2t u2

utip utip

Figure 7-3 Typical velocity diagrams for a radial impeller. Adapted from Epple [37]

510H

However, this is not the case for the axial impellers, where the flow particles enter and

leave the blade at the same radius, and hence the peripheral velocity is constant for a

given blade section:

u1 u2 2 rn (7.20)

In fact, for axial impellers (Figure 7-1b), considering only the peripheral velocity at the

51H

tip is section is an incorrect evaluation, and instead one should calculate the

dimensionless flow and pressure with an integrated value of u over the entire flow area of

the impeller, which corresponds to the ring area between the hub and the tip diameters:

107

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

rt

1

uaxial u 2 rdr (7.21)

rt rh2

2

rh

As a result, Eq. (7.19) will be rewritten for the particular case of the axial impeller, at one

512H

blade section:

cm

sec tion (7.22)

u

2cu 2

sec tion (7.23)

u

The expression for the head coefficient can be further developed according to the velocity

diagrams presented in Figure 4-1: 513H

2 u wu 2 w w 1

sec tion 2 1 u 2 2 1 m (7.24)

u u u tan 2

Inserting Eq. (7.22) into Eq. (7.24), the following expression is obtained:

514H 51H

1

sec tion 2 1 sec tion (7.25)

tan 2

Let us consider the maximum reaction, at the cascade level, according to Euler’s

equation, defined as the ratio of the static pressure difference that can be achieved to the

total pressure difference:

Ps

Rcascade (7.26)

Pt

Considering the expressions in Eqs. (4.3) and (4.8), then the reaction expressed in Eq.

516H 517H

518H

1 u 2 wu22 1 u wu 2 1 wu 2

Rcascade 1 (7.27)

2 u u wu 2 2 u 2 u

wm

wu 2 (7.28)

tan 2

This means that

1 w 1 1 1

Rcascade 1 m 1 sec tion (7.29)

2 u tan 2 2 tan 2

108

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

According to Eq. (7.29), the reaction of an axial cascade is always higher than 1/2, and

520H

for very small outlet blade angles, its value approaches infinity. It can be immediately

concluded that the reaction is not really a precise performance indicator, and it cannot be

employed for the determination of a theoretical limit of performance, at least from the

point of view of axial impellers. Instead, different performance indicators have to be

considered, and for this it is very useful to analyze the problem from a practical

perspective.

In the previous chapter, detailed information about the standard measuring techniques for

axial fans was given. It was shown that, in reality, the measured pressure was the

difference between the static pressure at the wall and the ambient pressure, i.e. a static

pressure difference. This statement can be confirmed also from the numerical simulations

point of view, and for exemplification, the velocity streamlines behind the impeller are

depicted in Figure 7-4. It can be readily observed that even at the outlet of the considered

521H

flow domain (approximately 2 m length after the impeller) the swirl is still not decaying,

c22

this swirl being the dominant component in the dynamic pressure , where

2

c22 c22u c22m .

109

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

If one wishes to measure the total pressure difference, as it is included in the various

definitions of efficiency, then also the dynamic component (and hence the swirl) would

have to be measured, and this, from the practical point of view, would be very difficult.

In this sense, a reconsideration of the expression for the static pressure difference is

useful, according to the rig measurements conditions, by subtracting the dynamic

component from the total pressure, Epple [36]: 52H

Ps ,rig Pt c22 (7.30)

2

The ideal efficiency, following this consideration, can then be expressed as:

Ps ,rig 1 c22

cascade 1 (7.31)

Pt 2 ucu 2

On further equating Eq. (7.31) according to the velocity diagrams, then

523H

1 wm2 1 cu 2

cascade 1 (7.32)

2 ucu 2 2 u

Equation (7.32) can be written in terms of the dimensionless flow and pressure

524H

sec

2

cascade 1 tion

sec tion (7.33)

sec tion 4

The next step is to express the pressure coefficient in terms of the flow coefficient:

cu 2 u wu 2 w w 1 sec tion

sec tion 2 2 2 1 u 2 2 1 m 2 1 (7.34)

u u u u tan 2 tan 2

Equation (7.33) then becomes

527H

1 sec 2

1

cascade 1 tion

1 sec tion (7.35)

2 sec tion 2 tan 2

1

tan 2

Equation (7.35) reveals the theoretical efficiency that can be achieved by an axial cascade

528H

and it is a direct function of the flow coefficient (flow area and flow rate implicitly) and

the value of the outlet blade angle, at the specified cascade radius. To extrapolate from

such a formulation, valid only for a blade section, to the full impeller, an integration

similar to Eq. (7.21), over the entire flow area, is required:

529H

110

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

rt

1

axial cascade 2 rdr (7.36)

rt rh2

2

rh

However, this is associated with the difficulty of the variation of the outlet blade angle

with the radius. For the proposed design strategy, this variation is given by Eq. (4.31): 530H

2 n 2 rtip

x

1

h

1.35

r x r r 1 rh2

tan 2 r rwm rhub

On substituting this into the expression for the cascade efficiency, as defined in Eq.

(7.35), the analytical integration with the radius to the overall efficiency of the impeller

531H

The solution to this problem is to analyze, for known impeller specifications, the

variation of the efficiency with the flow rate, for averaged angle values, between the hub

and the tip sections.

For the prototype considered, an average value between the calculated outlet blade

angles, according to Eq. (4.31), where x = 2, was considered:

532H

53H

1

rt

1 1 sec

2

sec tion

axial

rt rh2 2

r 2

1 tion

1

sec tion 2 tan 2,average

2 rdr (7.37)

h

1

tan 2,average

The corresponding curve for the integrated efficiency according to Eq. (7.37), for the 534H

111

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

Before commenting on the performance of Design III with respect to the integrated

efficiency curve, first some remarks should be made. For this, it is very useful to identify

on the performance plot three intervals, covering the range of small flow rates, the design

flow rate, and the higher flows range, respectively, as indicated in Figure 7-5.

536H

In the first interval, it can be seen that the integrated ideal efficiency curve starts from

0.5, whereas the measured performance of Design III indicates that for zero flow rate the

efficiency would be zero.

Similarly, in the third interval, the slope of the ideal curve decreases very slowly, while

the measured efficiency drops very suddenly, shortly after the design interval.

Such large differences, which characterize both the first and third intervals, are due to a

series of losses which inevitably appear during normal fan operation, and are not

accounted for in the case of the ideal machine. According to Epple [37], such losses

537H

include:

shock losses, which appear as soon as the system operates away from the design

point

friction losses, which account for the energy dissipation due to the contact of the

fluid with solid walls

mechanical losses, caused by disc friction or bearing losses.

112

7. Integrated ideal efficiency for axial fans

6B

The mechanical losses do not influence the pressure of the system, and hence the

hydraulic power. However, they impact heavily on the power input, i.e. the power to the

shaft. Accordingly, the measured efficiency of the system, as expressed in Eq. (5.1), will

538H

Because of such losses, differences between the ideal curve and the measured efficiency,

as in the first and the third intervals, cannot be avoided, no matter what the fan system.

Focusing on the middle interval and thus on the design point and the regions around it, it

can observed that, for the design flow rate, i.e. Qdesign 4m3 / s , the efficiency of Design

III is less than 9% (absolute percent) below the ideal value, indicating that the considered

design calculations and assumptions delivered a design solution in close proximity to the

ideal machine, characterized by an infinite number of blades, infinitely small thickness,

and inviscid flow (these are the assumptions under which the Euler equation of

turbomachinery is formulated).

By considering the integral properties of axial impellers, it was shown that the efficiency

expectations suggested by the Cordier diagram for the investigated class of impellers are

not realistic, and cannot be achieved, not even analytically, due to several inconsistencies

with regard to the nature of the flow in such machines. A correct formulation of the

maximum/ideal efficiency concept for axial fans should be the result of the integration,

over the entire flow area, of the performance of each individual cascade, and the present

analysis suggests one analytical method to do so.

It can be concluded, based on the performance plot depicted in Figure 7-5, that the

539H

proposed layout and design strategy delivered an efficient design model for axial fans, as

initial solution to the existing optimization problem, based on the correct theoretical

treatment of the flow in such flow machines, on the one hand, and also incorporates a

series of innovative design assumptions delivering high-efficiency blades, on the other.

Without any further improvements (related to geometry or by employing genetic

algorithms), the outcome is a fan already operating close to its theoretical maximum

achievable performance.

113

8. Conclusions and outlook

7B

7B

In the present work, a layout and design strategy was developed and applied to axial

ventilators/blowers, focused on delivering high-performance design solutions. This

strategy may be employed as an optimization tool in this engineering field. Essentially,

this procedure is a combined inverse–direct design method, which computes the optimum

blade profiles, according the fan specifications and operational requirements, and does

not make use of any predefined profiles, such as airfoils.

Central to the proposed design strategy was the so-called “Design Solver”, in which a

mathematical routine was implemented to solve the flow in three consecutive steps: one-

dimensional (mean-line calculations), two-dimensional (cascade calculation of the blade),

and three-dimensional (meridional analysis).

Most design strategies in this field rely entirely on the extensive data on airfoil profiles

and make use almost exclusively of the free-vortex flow assumption. The present work

was concerned with finding, for given fan dimensions, the optimum vortex-flow

consideration, and the possibility of a non-free vortex flow was also included in the

design process. Moreover, according to the vortex assumption, parameterization of the

pressure distribution in the span-wise direction was possible, which later dictated the

outlet blade angle variation with the radius. All new designs were derived on the basis of

the so-called “reference impeller”, an axial fan with a hub ratio of 0.5, currently used in

the automobile industry for cooling purposes.

Thorough numerical investigation showed that for such fan application (high-flow and

low-pressure), the best performance during operation was achieved by the design

corresponding to the non-free vortex flow assumption, i.e. Design III. Moreover,

compared with the efficiency curves for the reference, substantial increases, of up to

114

8. Conclusions and outlook

7B

18%, were obtained, thus proving the optimizing potential of the suggested layout and

design method.

The advantage of the proposed strategy came about also from aerodynamic analysis

performed on the reference profiles and Design III profiles, and it was shown, by means

of dimensionless pressure and velocity plots, that the latter cause less diffusion in the

flow around them, and thus smaller losses.

Modern Computational Fluid Dynamics tools achieve excellent flow predictions, and due

to time- and cost-reduction considerations, experiments are nowadays being replaced

more often by such numerical methods. However, for validation purposes, the reference

impeller, which was made available by the manufacturer, Alu Automotive GmbH, and a

prototype of Design III were investigated experimentally according to the standard DIN

norm. The relevant parameters for the efficiency were measured, i.e. the static pressure

and the torque required at the shaft to drive the system. It was concluded that although

the two impellers produce similar pressures, the torque required to drive the Design III

impeller was substantially reduced compared with the reference. Of course, this was

immediately observed in the total-to-static efficiency curves, where an absolute increase

of 11% for Design III was obtained. After analyzing the cooling capabilities of the two

impellers, it was observed that similar cooling effects were achieved by both fans, but

with considerable less consumption by Design III, resulting in immediate decreases in

energy and costs.

Another aspect central to this work was the analytical formulation of the integrated ideal

efficiency for axial fans. This concept was derived as a response to the incapacity of the

classical Cordier diagram to predict the actual performance of axial impellers operating in

the low-pressure regimes, due to inconsistencies in the definitions employed. The

suggested analytical formulation can be extended to any type of axial impeller of known

dimensions and design characteristics, thus offering a reliable method to determine the

maximum performance achievable by any fan.

It was shown that, at the design point, the proposed layout and design strategy delivered a

fan operating already in the close proximity to the ideal machine, quantified by the

integrated ideal efficiency curve. This result represents a fully optimized impeller and

underlines the validity of the proposed layout and design method. The method is

115

8. Conclusions and outlook

7B

essentially based on the correct theoretical treatment of the flow in axial fans, and further

improvements in the efficiency of the proposed design can be achieved by employing

genetic algorithms [104], or by improving the geometry of the system, i.e. hub or shroud

540H

[78], thus bringing the impeller closer to the ideal machine. It has to be kept in mind,

541H

however, that these latter methods are more costly and require a good starting solution.

The latter can be given by the present method.

The presented layout and design strategy, although applied to axial fans, has potential to

be employed for other types of axial impellers operating under different pressure regimes,

such as the axial compressors. The proposed design solver handles flow calculations

under both frictionless flow and flow with friction hypotheses. In the present work, the

frictionless flow assumption was employed since it was found appropriate for the case of

low-pressure axial fans. However, for different impeller application, the second

assumption, i.e. design for flow with friction, might be found more effective. In this

respect, a new research venue could determine optimum values for the gliding angle ,

as function of the different parameters influencing the performance of the impeller, on the

one hand, but also as function of the impeller application, on the other.

116

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