A methodology is presented for the re-design of a large centrifugal impeller used for the lift fan on an air cushion vehicle. The design is driven by stringent requirements for aerodynamic and structural performance. It is also desired to minimize the fan’s life cycle cost, by reducing both the manufacturing cost and on-going maintenance burden. Improving the fan efficiency will increase the vehicle’s endurance and range, and minimizing life cycle cost will reduce the overall operational expenses. The lift fan assembly has a double-inlet impeller and an offset double-discharge volute. The new impeller design provides increased air flow with similar aerodynamic efficiency when compared to the prior design. To reduce the manufacturing cost, the new fan blade design can be produced by an aluminum extrusion process. The manufacturing process dictates that the blade cross-section be two-dimensional across the entire span, which poses structural challenges for attachment of the blades to the shroud and center disk. Analysis of the aerodynamic and structural performance of the lift fan was carried out using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and structural finite element analysis (FEA) models. The fabrication of full-scale lift fan components is described. Plans for final assembly and for conducting full-scale, full-power aerodynamic testing will also be explained.

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