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Bhaskar Roy, Sq. Ldr. Hari Kumar and Amit Batra
Aerospace Engineering Department, IIT-Bombay, Mumbai
E-mail:aer oy ia@aer o.iitb .er n et.in
Inlet distortions are flow non-uniformities that result in a decrease in performance and lessening of the operating flow range of a compressor. This paper presents an inlet flow distortion study on a single axial fan and a contra-Rotating Twin rotor axial fan. Experiments were carried out for the following configurations: (a) Clean inlet condition, (b) 90o Circumferential Extent Steady Total Pressure Distortion and (c) A combination of 90o Total Pressure Distortion and localized 90o swirl (both co- swirl and counter swirl). Total pressure measurements were done at the inlet and exit of the axial fan/contra-stage, both in the distorted and clean regions. The experimental results were analyzed to obtain distortion parameters like Distortion Index and Axial/Contra-Fan performance parameters like the Pressure Rise coefficient, Mean flow coefficient etc. It is observed that the Distortion Index is highest for the case of combination of 90o Total Pressure Distortion and 90o Localized Counter-Swirl. The severity of the combined distortion is more for a contra-rotating stage as compared to the single axial fan. A significant outcome of the study is the fact that in spite of a higher distortion, counter-swirl produces a lower degradation in performance compared to the co-swirl, which has a lower distortion intensity. Also, the performance penalty in the case of the contra-rotating unit is less as compared to the single axial fan.
One of the most important problems faced by the designers of gas turbine engines is the adverse effect of inlet flow distortions on the engine performance and stability. Extensive theoretical and experimental research has been done on multistage axial compressors,
marginal improvements in offsetting these adverse effects. The focus has now shifted to the concept of contra- rotation, (rotation of two rotors in the opposite direction without any stator), with a view to achieve high pressure rise per stage as well as an improvement on the stability of the stage through rotating stall/surge suppression.
The contra-rotation concept has found acceptability in recent developments of fuel-efficient aero- engines. Since inlet distortion is an unavoidable phenomenon, its effect on the design of contra- rotating compressors cannot be disregarded. The
term \u201cinlet distortion\u201d is used to denote the non- uniformity of any of the flow properties such as total pressure, static pressure, temperature, velocity or flow angle existing at the engine inlet. These have been broadly classified as:
\u2666Inlet swirl distortions
\u2666Inlet duct geometry (asymmetric geometry)
\u2666Back pressure distortions
\u2666Rotating distortions (geometric and flow
Inlet flow non-uniformities arise due to various reasons like changes in aircraft attitudes due to maneuvers, flow separation in air intake due to shock wave/boundary layer interaction, wakes of the aircraft or other aircrafts, vortices, cross winds and atmospheric turbulence, ingestion of hot gases in VSTOL aircraft etc. Regions of localized swirl can be generated due to upstream flow field redistribution. Other causes may be secondary flow effects in the end-wall, or due to inlet vortex problems. The effect of swirl and inlet total pressure distortion appear to interact in a non-linear manner such that their combined effect is more severe than that might be inferred from the simple addition of the effects of swirl and distortion.
In the present study, the effect of inlet distortion flow on the performance of axial Fan and contra- rotating twin-rotor axial fan unit was investigated. The experiments were carried out for the following configurations:
The experiments for the above configurations were carried out on the contra-fan test rig with and without the second (contra) rotor. The localized swirl is produced by deflecting the inlet vane mechanism both at positive and negative incidences. The positive deflection of the inlet vanes results in a circumferential flow in the direction of rotation of the rotor, which is termed as co-swirl in this context. Similarly, the negative deflection produces a circumferential flow that is counter to the rotation of the rotor (the first rotor, in case of the contra- rotating fans) and is termed as counter-swirl. The flow measurements were taken using standard Pitot- static tubes along with the digital micro-manometer.
The effect of inlet distortion on axial compressor performance was recognized in as early as 1950\u2019s, when NACA undertook an extensive experimental investigation of the problem. At the same time, several analytical examinations of the non- axisymmetric inflow based on the actuator disk model of a compressor blade also appeared1. Since then a large amount of theoretical and experimental work has focused on axial compressors and fans because of their use in military and commercial aircrafts. These efforts have yielded in an overall improvement of the performance of axial compressors but to a limited extent. It is with this background that the interest in contra-rotation concept has emerged with a view to achieve more pressure rise per unit axial length, besides its
suitability (in increasing the operating range) for rotating stall/surge suppression2. A simple form of circumferential non-uniformity is the square-wave distribution, in which two distinct but equal circumferential extents of high and low total pressure regions exist at the compressor face as shown in Figure 1.
A basic understanding of the circumferential variation of inlet flow was given by Pearson and Mackenzie3 using the \u201cparallel compressor model\u201d.
In this model the compressor is viewed as two identical compressors operating in parallel with different inlet total pressure to a common static pressure. This idea, along with the assumption that each of the two compressors (in parallel) will operate as per the uniform flow compressor characteristic at the local mass flows, allows description of the compressor behavior in the distorted flow.
angle of circumferential distortion which gives maximum loss in surge delivery static pressure. The general trends of compressor performance with different inlet distortions are illustrated in a series of experiments undertaken by Reid4, which are shown in Figure 2a and Figure 2b. Figure 2a shows the compressor delivery pressure at the surge line, for different types of distortion. Figure 2b shows the effect of sub-dividing the total angular extent of the distortion (which is fixed) into different numbers of equal sections. It can be seen that the greatest effect on the loss of surge delivery pressure is observed when there is only one region. Also, as the angular width of the spoiled sector (low inlet total pressure) is increased there is a width above which there is a little change in the exit static pressure. This width is often referred to as the critical sector angle (\u03b8crit).
DC(\u03b8) can be used to judge both the quality of intake flow and the tolerance of an engine. The distortion index has been found successful in correlating inlet distortion index with compressor performance. The loss of surge margin has been found to be approximately proportional to the distortion index. One of the simplest ways of defining surge margin has been defined by Cumpsty5.
For a quantitative measure of swirl, a swirl coefficient SC(\u03b8) analogous to the Distortion coefficient DC(\u03b8) has been defined by Guo6. It is the maximum average circumferential component of the cross-flow velocity in a sector of the measuring station, non-dimensionalized by dividing by the mean duct velocity at the throat section.
One of the early studies related to attenuation was done by Ehrich7 using the actuator disk approach. It was concluded that an attenuation of 0.7 to 0.8 in velocity distortion is attainable and can be improved with lower reaction staging. In another study by Yocum8, it was shown that the attenuation of distortion as it passes through the rotor is a function of the blade stagger angle and the ratio of rotor blade spacing to the distortion wave length. Plourde9 concluded from his studies in a multistage compressor that the overall attenuation of both total pressure distortion and axial velocity distortion is dependent on the slope of compressor pressure flow rate characteristics. The attenuation increases when the slope is made more negative.
Stenning10 has done an analysis by the compressor model to predict the effect of circumferential distortion on the performance map. This method has proved useful for analyzing distortions greater than 60o as unsteady effects are neglected in the simple parallel compressor model. An analytical and experimental investigation of asymmetric annulus swirling flows in turbo-machines annuli has been done by Greitzer11. It is found that in a swirling flow the different type of flow disturbances (pressure and vorticity) are strongly coupled. The magnitude of the flow angle and static pressure distortion increases with increasing mean swirl angle and/or decreasing hub-tip ratio. Another study done by Viswanath12 reports on the combined effect of inlet flow distortion and swirl on an axial fan stage. It was found that at the design flow coefficient, swirl causes a deterioration in performance in addition to that caused by distortion. In addition, the attenuation of distortion was high in the presence of swirl. In a recent work, Sharma13 studied the effect of inlet distortion on the performance of the contra-rotating stage using a 360o inlet distortion screen. Other benefits of contra-rotating fan have also been investigated by Roy14,15,16 in past years.
The experimental facility consists of the contra- rotating fan unit, distortion mechanism, four traverse mechanisms and the instrumentation for measuring the various flow parameters. The Mach number at inlet during these tests was of the order of 0.12, so that effects of compressibility were negligible. The upstream turbulence introduced by the distribution mechanism is approximately 8%.
A Schematic layout of the contra-fan test rig used for the present investigation is shown in Figure 3. The first fan comprises of 11 blades followed by ten-bladed contra-fan. The design data of the contra- fan stage is given below. The contra-rotating rotors are mounted on two separate solid co-axial shafts. The two rotor shafts independently driven by two separate DC motors are capable of rotating in opposite direction in a speed range of 0-2400 rpm. Mass flow rate can be varied by moving the throttle cone at the rear. Provision is made for the measurement of the flow field at the inlet and at the exit of the contra-fan. The detailed design of the test rig and the contra-fan unit have been provided earlier by the author14.
The basic screen design method involves laying of screens of different porosity over a low blockage base screen. The experimental set up used for the distortion study, consists of an isolated rotor and a twin-rotor contra-rotating fan unit. In the present study only a single screen is used. It is fabricated using a wire mesh of 90o circumferential extent and having a porosity of 0.7. Two MS strips of 2 mm thickness and width 2 cm are cut and bent in a quarter arcs of radii equal to that of hub and outer casing respectively. The wire mesh is cut to a circumferential extent of 90o and soldered between the strips. The distortion screen can be push-fitted between the hub and the casing inner walls. The distortion mesh can be rotated around the annulus and if required, finer meshes can be attached to this base screen to charge the distortion intensity.
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