Abstract

The Laboratory for Applied Mechanical Design (LAMD) designed, manufactured, and experimentally tested a novel recirculation fan for a 10 kWe solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). The fan uses oil-free bearings, more specifically herringbone-grooved journal and spiral-grooved thrust gas bearings. The radial inducer-less fan with a tip diameter of 19.2 mm features backward-curved prismatic blades with constant height. Prior to coupling the recirculation fan with the SOFC, the fan was experimentally characterized with air at 200 °C. At the nominal point of 168 krpm, the measured inlet mass flow rate is 4.9 kgh–1, the total-to-total pressure rise 55 mbar, the isentropic total-to-total efficiency 55%, and the power 18.3 W. This paper compares the experimental data toward a computational fluid dynamic simulation of the full fan impeller and volute suggesting an excellent correlation at the nominal point which validates the numerical approach. However, the heat flows crossing the fan fluid domain have an increased effect at off-design conditions; thus, the experimental results need careful consideration. The fan backface leakage has negligible impact on the measurements.

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