Large axial flow fans are used in forced draft air cooled heat exchangers (ACHEs). Previous studies have shown that adverse operating conditions cause certain sectors of the fan, or the fan as a whole to operate at very low flow rates, thereby reducing the cooling effectiveness of the ACHE. The present study is directed towards the experimental and numerical analyses of the flow in the vicinity of an axial flow fan during low flow rates. This is done to obtain the global flow structure up and downstream of the fan. A near-free-vortex fan, designed for specific application in ACHEs, is used for the investigation. Experimental fan testing was conducted in a British Standard 848, type A fan test facility, to obtain the fan characteristic. Both steady-state and time-dependent numerical simulations were performed, depending on the operating condition of the fan, using the Realizable k-ε turbulence model. Good agreement is found between the numerically and experimentally obtained fan characteristic data. Using data from the numerical simulations, the time and circumferentially averaged flow field is presented. At the design flow rate the downstream fan jet mainly moves in the axial and tangential direction, as expected for a free-vortex design criteria, with a small amount of radial flow that can be observed. As the flow rate through the fan is decreased, it is evident that the down-stream fan jet gradually shifts more diagonally outwards, and the region where reverse flow occur between the fan jet and the fan rotational axis increases. At very low flow rates the flow close to the tip reverses through the fan, producing a small recirculation zone as well as swirl at certain locations upstream of the fan.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.