Abstract

The 3-D unsteady turbulent flow inside a centrifugal fan and its downstream pipe is investigated at the best efficiency point (BEP) flow rate using the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) package ANSYS FLUENT. The impeller with an outlet diameter of 400 mm has 12 forward curved blades. The computational domain comprises four parts: the inlet part, the impeller, the volute, and the downstream pipe. The flow domain was meshed in ANSYS ICEM-CFD with structured hexahedron cells, and nearly 9 million cells were used. The Detached Eddy Simulation (DES) turbulence modelling approach was employed with this fine enough mesh scheme. The impeller was set as the rotating domain at a speed of 2900 rpm. A sliding mesh technique was applied to the interfaces in order to allow unsteady interactions between the rotating impeller and the stationary parts; the unsteady interactions generate pressure fluctuations inside the centrifugal fan. One impeller revolution is divided into 2048 time steps, in order to capture the transient flow phenomena with high resolution. Monitoring points were set along the volute casing profile, and along the downstream pipe centerline. When the numerical simulation became stable after several impeller revolutions, the statistics of the unsteady flow was initiated with a total of 16384 time steps (8 impeller revolutions) data. The time history data of the pressure and velocity magnitude at the monitoring points were saved and with Fourier transform applied to obtain the frequency spectra.

The time-averaged flow fields show clearly the static pressure rises gradually through the impeller, and further recovers from the velocity in the volute, and decreases gradually along the downstream pipe due to the friction. The mean pressure at the pressure side of the impeller blade is larger than it at the suction side, forming the circumferential nonuniform flow pattern. Owing to the forward-curved blades, large velocity region exists around the impellor exit, and the maximum velocity near the trailing edge can reach 1.5u2, where u2 is the circumferential velocity at the impeller outlet.

The root mean square (rms) value distribution of pressure fluctuations show that most parts inside the centrifugal fan undergo large pressure fluctuation with the magnitude about 10% of the reference dynamic pressure pref = 0.5ρu22; the maximum value locating at the tongue tip can reach 30% of pref. The pressure fluctuation magnitude decreases quickly along the outlet pipe: after 5D (D is the outlet pipe diameter) the magnitude is 0.5% of pref. The pressure and velocity fluctuation spectra at the monitoring points in the volute show striking discrete components at the blade-passing frequency (BPF) and its 2nd, 3rd harmonics. The BPF component has the maximum value of 15% of pref in the tongue region, and it decreases dramatically along the downstream pipe with the amplitude less than 0.2% of pref after 5D distance.

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