The acoustical characteristics of cooling fans are an essential criterion of product quality in the automotive industry. Fan modules have to suffice growing customer expectations which are reflected in the comfort requirements set by car manufacturers around the world. In order to locate dominant acoustic sources and to reduce the noise emission generated by a shrouded fan configuration, numerical simulations and experimental investigations are performed. The working approach considers variously modified fan geometries and their evaluation regarding arising vortex flow phenomena and their effect on a decreased sound pressure level (SPL) in consideration of an improvement or the constancy of aerodynamic fan performance. Particular emphasis lies on the analysis of secondary flows in the blade tip region by post-processing CFD-results. Due to the large number of geometrical modifications investigated and the importance of highly resolved eddy structures, a hybrid approach is chosen by applying the SAS-SST turbulence model in URANS simulations. The SAS (Scale Adaptive Simulation) delivers LES (Large Eddy Simulation) content in unsteady regions of a RANS-simulation and exhibits not nearly the high computational effort needed to perform a full scale LES. An assessment of the actual propagation of noise emission into the far-field is made by performing experimental investigations on the most promising modifications. The acoustic measurements are carried out in a fan test stand in the anechoic chamber of Duesseldorf University of Applied Sciences. The aerodynamic performance is measured in a fan test rig with an inlet chamber setup in accordance to ISO 5801. The measured acoustical and aerodynamic performances are validated by the industrial partner. The results of the acoustic measurements are in turn utilized to determine indicators of noise radiation in the numerical simulation. Within this work an innovative geometry modification is presented which can be implemented into shrouded fan configurations with backward-skewed blades. The new design exhibits a reduced SPL (A-weighted) of approx. 4 dB over the entire operating range while showing no significant deterioration on the aerodynamic performance. While the design was registered for patent approval cooperatively by the industrial partner and Duesseldorf University of Applied Sciences, further investigations regarding variations of design parameters are performed and presented in this paper. All numerical simulations are performed with ANSYS CFX, a commercial solver widely spread in the industry. Methods similar to those shown in this work can be implemented in the design phase of axial fans in order to develop acoustically optimized fan geometries.

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