Abstract

The cost-effectiveness of turbomachinery is a key aspect within the small-size compressor market. For this reason, Tesla turbomachinery, invented by Nikola Tesla in 1913, could be a good solution, particularly for low volumetric flow applications, where volumetric compressors are usually used. It consists of a bladeless rotor that stands out for its ease of construction and its ability to maintain almost the same performance as the size decreases. One of its advantages is that it can run either as a turbine or as a compressor with minor modifications at the stator. The objective of this paper is to investigate a 3kW Tesla compressor, which design was derived from an analogous Tesla expander prototype (59% isentropic efficiency from the numerical study), by conducting a numerical analysis for different disk gaps and diffuser configurations. The potential of the Tesla compressor is shown to be quite promising, with a peak isentropic efficiency estimated at 53%. Utilizing computational fluid dynamics algorithms, different disk gaps, and different diffusers are simulated in order to increase the overall performance of the compressor and understand the flow dynamic behavior behind this technology. The dimensionless Ekman number is used to express the optimum disk space of the compressor rotor. Thus, the overall performance of the Tesla compressor is improved by 5-10% points compared to the initial model. Simultaneously, diffuser optimization strategies are applied and proved that there is a direct impact on the optimum design conditions, improving the pressure ratio at high mass flow rates.

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