In modern aero engines the lubrication system plays a key role due to the demand for high reliability. Oil is used not only for the lubrication of bearings, gears or seals, but it also removes large amounts of the generated heat. Also, air from the compressor at elevated temperature is used for sealing the bearing chambers and additional heat is introduced into the oil through radiation, conduction and convection from the surroundings.

The impact of excessive heat on the oil may lead to severe engine safety and reliability problems which can range from oil coking (carbon formation) to oil fires. Coking may lead to a gradual blockage of the oil tubes and subsequently increase the internal bearing chamber pressure. As a consequence, oil may migrate through the seals into the turbo machinery and cause contamination of the cabin air or ignite and cause failure of the engine.

It is therefore very important for the oil system designer to be capable to predict the system’s functionality. Coking or oil ignition may occur not only inside the bearing chamber but also in the oil pipes which carry away the air and oil mixture from the bearing chamber. Bearing chambers usually have one pipe (vent pipe) at the top of the chamber and also one pipe (scavenge pipe) at the bottom which is attached to a scavenge pump. The vent pipe enables most of the sealing air to escape thus avoid over-pressurization in the bearing compartment. In a bearing chamber sealing air is the dominant medium in terms of volume occupation and also the in terms of causing expansion phenomena. The scavenge pipe carries away most of the oil from the bearing chamber but some air is also carried away.

The heat transfer in vent pipes was investigated by Busam [1], [2]. Busam has experimentally developed a Nusselt number correlation for an annular flow in a vent pipe.

For the heat transfer predictions in scavenge pipes no particular Nusselt number correlation exist. This paper intends to close the gap in this area. As part of the European Union funded research programme ELUBSYS (Engine LUBrication System TechnologieS), an attempt was done to simplify the oil system’s architecture. In order to better understand the flow in scavenge pipes, high speed video was taken in two sections of the pipe (vertical and horizontal). In the vertical section the flow was a wavy annular falling film whereas the flow in the horizontal section was a an unsteady wavy stratified/slug flow. Heat transfer has been investigated in the horizontal section of the scavenge pipe, leaving the investigation on the vertical section for later.

Thanks to the provided extensive instrumentation, the thermal field in, on and around the pipe was recorded, evaluated and also numerically modeled using ANSYS CFX version 14 [23].

Brand new correlations for two-phase flow heat transfer (Nusselt number) and for pressure drop (friction coefficient) in horizontal scavenge pipes are the result of this work. The Nusselt number correlation has been developed in such a way that smooth transition (i.e. no discontinuity) from two-phase into single phase flow is observed.

This work was funded and conducted within the 7th EU Frame Programme for Aeronautics and Transport (AAT.2008.4.2.3).

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