The flow path close to the suction side of fan rotor blades mostly affects the overall drag of the blading. The blade lift is affected as well because of the separation of the low energy boundary layer that drives the blade into stall at low fan flow rates.
Forward sweep allows to position the airfoil sections of blades featuring a positive circulation gradient along the span so that they “accompany” the near-wall flow trajectories at the blade suction side. So, rotor efficiency and stall margin of the fan can be improved. On the other hand, blade end effects play a relevant role in high hub-to-tip and low aspect ratio rotors and may compromise the effectiveness of forward sweep. Nevertheless, some authors in the literature stated the beneficial contribution of changing the sweep angle at the ends of the blade both at design and off-design conditions.
The paper studies the end effects on constant-swirl design rotors by means of CFD simulations focusing on the distribution of blade sweep in the near-tip region. In particular, the performance and efficiency calculated for a forward swept tube-axial fan featuring a hub-to-tip ratio equal to 0.4 are compared with those estimated for the corresponding unswept fan at equal duty point. Several modifications of the sweep distribution in the blade tip region are considered in the swept fan to quantify their effect on performance, efficiency and stall margin.
Results show that the addition of up to 6 degrees of local forward sweep at the blade tip to the unswept blading does not affect fan pressure at design operation.
On the other hand, this local increase of the sweep angle allows for a very notable increase of the peak pressure and efficiency at flow rates close to stall inception.