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Vibration Analysis of Centrifugal Fans

Vibration Analysis of Centrifugal Fans

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Published by: Mohd Asiren Mohd Sharif on May 31, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Application Paper
Vibration Analysis of Centrifugal Fans
Robert J. Sayer
AMS Machinery Manager
Vibration Analysis of Centrifugal Fans
Robert J. Sayer, P.E.
Principal Engineer
Sayer & Associates, Inc.
 Vibration of fans and the structural systems supporting same are a common problem in industry. Frequently, theexcitation of a resonance in either the rotor (fan wheel & shaft) or the supporting structural system is the cause ofthe problem.Identification of the source of a vibration problem is paramount to any root-cause vibration analysis. This paperincludes a discussion of the dynamic forces produced by air handling systems containing fans , such asunbalance, blade pass pressure pulsation, belt forces, structural asymmetry, disk skew, static and dynamicmisalignment, and aerodynamic forces (turbulence, stall and surge). The nature and frequency of these dynamicforces are summarized to assist the vibration analyst in the identification thereof.Once the source of the vibration problem is identified, the dynamic characteristics of the structural/ mechanicalsystem must be defined. Natural frequencies in either the rotor or the structural supporting system could lead toexcessive vibrations and in some cases catastrophic failure.This paper includes a discussion of the natural frequencies and mode shapes associated with the rotor (shaftcritical, wheel wobble, umbrella modes, etc.) and structural supporting systems (pedestals, structural framework,isolator bases, and foundations).
 Mechanical systems containing centrifugal fans can be subjected to many types of dynamic forces, bothmechanical and aerodynamic. Some of these dynamic forces are normal, such as rotor unbalance, blade passpressure pulsation, and belt forces. Many others, such as rotating stall, surge, and disk skew are due to eitherpoor mechanical or aerodynamic design.The following includes a list and brief discussion of some of the possible dynamic forces developed in air handlingsystems containing centrifugal fans:ROTOR IMBALANCE;This is the most common dynamic force produced by a fan. It is impossible to balance a rotor perfectly. Therefore,rotor imbalance exists to some degree in all fans. Even a new fan rotor will contain some residual unbalance.
Many industrial fans operate in abrasive atmospheres resulting in the rotor wearing or particulate build-up on thefan wheel that increases the unbalance condition. In these cases, periodic cleaning and field balancing is requiredto minimize the dynamic forces and vibrations produced by the unbalanced rotor.If a resonance in either the rotor or structural supporting system is excited by the unbalance force, then fieldbalancing, if even possible, will provide only a short-lived temporary solution to the vibration problem. Forresonance problems, the structural dynamic characteristics of either the rotor or structural supporting systemshould be modified so that the natural frequency does not coincide with the rotational frequency of the fan.Figure 1 contains a typical frequency spectrum for vibration caused by an unbalanced rotor.
FIGURE 1: Typical Spectrum (Unbalance)
 The frequency of the dynamic force caused by an unbalanced rotor will be equal to 1x the rotational speed of thefan. It is a pure harmonic force and, thus, will not contain any harmonic multiples unless some other condition,such as mechanical looseness is also present. The magnitude of the dynamic force produced by an unbalancedrotor will increase with the square of the rotational speed (F=mr2).The above characteristics for rotor imbalance can be used to diagnose whether excessive vibration is simplycaused by a large unbalance force or the result of the excitation of a resonance. Since the dynamic forceproduced by an imbalance is harmonic (sinusoidal), it remains constant at any given speed. It is a force vector thatrotates with the fan wheel. Thus, the difference in phase between the maximum vibration in the horizontal andvertical directions should be nearly 90o. If the phase is either 0o or 180o, excessive vibrations are most probablydue to resonance.Since the magnitude of the dynamic force produced by the imbalance remains constant at any given speed, themagnitude of vibration in the vertical direction should not be significantly different than the horizontal direction.Differences in the directional stiffness (mechanical impedance) of supporting structures will result in ahorizontal/vertical vibration ratio slightly different than unity (1.0). Large horizontal/vertical vibration ratios areindicative of resonance.MECHANICAL LOOSENESS;When the dynamic force produced by fan imbalance is applied to a mechanical system that contains a Looseness(broken or loose anchor bolts, cracked structures, excessive clearance), an impacting occurs once per revolutionof the rotor. The FFT of a repetitive impact consists of a response at the primary frequency of repetition andresponses at harmonic multiples thereof.Figure 2 contains a typical frequency spectrum for vibration caused by Looseness.
FIGURE 2: Typical Spectrum: (Looseness)
 Generally, the dynamic force produced at the primary frequency of repetition will be the largest. The magnitude ofthe dynamic forces produced at harmonic multiples will decrease in magnitude as the order of the harmonicincreases.This characteristic can be used to identify resonances in mechanical systems that are subject to dynamic forcesdeveloped as a result of mechanical Looseness or other repetitive impact forces. A resonance should be expectedif the vibration at a harmonic multiple exceeds the vibration at the primary frequency. For the above example, theresponse @ 12x is greater than that at 1x rotational speed of the fan. A resonance in the supporting base wassuspected at 12x rotational speed of the fan.Mechanical Looseness can also be characterized by a truncation in the time waveform of the vibration signal. Theharmonic distortion introduced by this truncation will also result in harmonic multiples in the frequency spectrum.MISALIGNMENT;There are several forms of misalignment including:
The pre-load from a bent shaft or improperly seated bearing.
An offset of centerline of the fan shaft relative to the shaft of the drive equipment (motor, gearbox, etc.).
Shaft Angular misalignment.Figure 3 contains a typical frequency spectrum for vibrations caused by misalignment.

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