It is well-known that the natural frequencies of structures immersed in heavy liquids will decrease due to the fluid “added-mass” effect. This reduction has not been precisely determined, though, with indications that it is in the 20–40% range for water. In contrast, the mode shapes of these structures have always been assumed to be invariant in liquids. Recent modal testing at NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center of turbomachinery inducer blades in liquid oxygen, which has a density slightly greater than water, indicates that the mode shapes change appreciably, though. This paper presents a study that examines and quantifies the change in mode shapes as well as more accurately defines the natural frequency reduction. A literature survey was initially conducted and test-verified analytical solutions for the natural frequency reductions were found for simple geometries, including a rectangular plate and an annular disk. The ANSYS© fluid/structure coupling methodology was then applied to obtain numerical solutions, which compared favorably with the published results. This initial study indicated that mode shape changes only occur for non-symmetric boundary conditions. Techniques learned from this analysis were then applied to the more complex inducer model. ANSYS numerical results for both natural frequency and mode shape compared well with modal test in air and water. A number of parametric studies were also performed to examine the effect of fluid density on the structural modes, reflecting the differing propellants used in rocket engine turbomachinery. Some important findings were that the numerical order of mode shapes changes with density initially, and then with higher densities the mode shapes themselves warp as well. Valuable results from this study include observations on the causes and types of mode shape alteration and an improved prediction for natural frequency reduction in the range of 30–41% for preliminary design. Increased understanding and accurate prediction of these modal characteristics is critical for assessing resonant response, correlating finite element models to modal test, and performing forced response in turbomachinery.

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