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Final Year Undergraduate Student Project, 2008

Active Separation Control in a Radial Blower:


Proof of Concept

Guy Arzuan
Faculty of Mechanical Engineering
Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel

Advisor: Dr. David Greenblatt

Abstract

This project was undertaken as a proof-of-concept study for active separation control in a
radial blower. Experiments were performed on a modified 0.5kW radial blower, where
acoustic perturbations were introduced into the impeller housing of fully stalled blades.
Increases in plenum pressure of up to 40% were achieved and, based on tuft-based flow
visualization, it was concluded that the pressure increases were brought about due to
excitation and deflection of the leading-edge separated shear layer. Optimum dimensionless
control frequencies were found to be O(0.5), irrespective of the blade orientation or number
of blades. Equally important, the maximum control effect (pressure rise) was achieved at
only 2% of the fan input power. Backward bladed impeller blades exhibited slightly larger
increases in pressure coefficients due to their being fully stalled at zero flowrate conditions.
The dependence of blower performance on reduced frequency was remarkably similar to
that seen on airfoils at similar Reynolds numbers under periodic excitation. To the best of
our knowledge, these data are the first and only demonstration of shear layer or separation
control on the blades of a rotating machine.
Final Year Undergraduate Student Project, 2008

Contents

1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
2. Objective & Scope. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
3. Experimental Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
4. Governing parameters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
5. Experimental Method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
6. Discussion of Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
6.1 Effect of Actuator Power. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
6.2 Effect of Reduced Frequencies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
6.3 Flow Visualization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16
6.4 Error estimation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
7. Main Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Appendix A - Drawings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

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1. Introduction
It has been known for several decades that flow separation from solid surfaces can be
controlled by the introduction of periodic perturbations. Initial demonstrations were made
on airfoils by introducing acoustic signals into the test sections of wind tunnels. This was
typically achieved using conventional loud speakers or specialized acoustic drivers.
Typically, significant post-stall lift coefficient increases are observed on airfoils; as much
as 50% of the post-stall lift coefficient value. Two basic mechanisms were identified for lift
enhancement: forcing of laminar-turbulent transition; and direct control of the separated
shear layer (see Greenblatt & Wygnanski, 2000). In recent years, investigators have
dispensed with acoustic drivers and prefer to use actuators that are mounted on, or within,
the airfoil or wing itself. This approach is far more effective and efficient because the
perturbations can be applied only where they are needed and much larger hydrodynamic
perturbations are possible with a much smaller power input. Common methods of actuation
include surface mounted actuators and zero mass-flux blowing. An extensive review of
modern techniques can be found in Greenblatt & Wygnanski (2000). In recent years
perturbations have been introduced by means of surface-mounted plasma actuators (e.g.
Corke et al, 2008). They are light and easy to affix to aerodynamic surfaces, but their
momentum production seems somewhat limited.

Despite the rapid increase in active separation control studies, coupled with advances in
actuation, control of separation on rotating machinery has received very little attention.
This is surprising because blade stall is a major factor leading to reduced efficiency,
vibrations, damage and noise. Moreover, fans and blowers consume approximately 20% of
the total energy in the European Union and in the US (e.g. Cory, 2004). It is therefore clear
that effective control of blade stall would impact dramatically on performance, leading to
potential large energy savings. In the context of rotating machinery, all studies appear to be
confined to stationary simulated turbomachinery flows (e.g. Hultgren & Ashpis, 2003;
Ramakumar & Jacob, 2007). In fact, active separation control on turbine blades invariably
involves a simulated static pressure gradient or studies performed in linear cascades. This is
because considerable technical difficulties are encountered when attempting to apply active
control on rotating fan blades. Firstly, it is difficult to establish, a priori, where to place

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actuators on the blades when very little is known about the nature of stall. Secondly, the
implementation of actuators would require either electrical or pneumatic modification to
the blading system. Thirdly, the actuators themselves would be subjected to significant
centrifugal forces.

2. Objectives & Scope


The global objective of this study was to assess the viability of separation control on the
blades of a radial blower. A radial blower was selected because the flow is known to be
partially stalled specific blade configuration throughout their operational envelope. The
specific objectives were:
1. To select a small commercial blower on which to conduct the experiments. The
main requirement was that the impeller could be replaced with a design suitable for
the present investigation.
2. To design and construct a new impeller with a variable set of blades, thereby
allowing adjustment for a large number of configurations.
3. To assess the separation control potential of the configuration by introducing
periodic acoustic perturbations into the impeller housing. The increase in the blower
plenum pressure was used to assess the separation control potential.

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Final Year Undergraduate Student Project, 2008

3. Experimental Setup
In order to fulfill the first objective, a 500-Watt commercial squirrel-cage-type blower was
acquired (see fig. 1; courtesy Danciger Laboratories, Technion), where the blower back-
plate and squirrel-cage impeller could be removed, albeit with some difficulty.

Fig. 1: The O.ERRE 500-Watt commercial squirrel-cage-type used in this study

Once the original squirrel cage impeller was removed new back-plate and impeller were
designed. The Impeller was designed to be flexible with the option of either 2-bladed or 4-
bladed configurations. Furthermore, the blades could be deployed in backward bladed
configurations and forward bladed configurations form –45° to +45° in steps of 15°. A
schematic of the conceptual design is shown in fig. 2a and a photograph of the final 4-
bladed configuration, installed in the blower, is shown in fig. 2b. Note the holes drilled
along the periphery of the back-plate that are were used for changing the orientation of the
blading.

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Final Year Undergraduate Student Project, 2008

Fig. 2a: CAD assembly of the four-bladed configuration and mounting; preliminary
design.

Fig. 2b: The final 4 bladed configuration is installed in the blower case.

In order to enforce separated flow at the blade leading-edges (innermost part of the
impeller), the blades were constructed from thin (2mm thick) plates. In addition, the blades
were not curved in any way in order to eliminate the effects of curvature for the purposes of
the pilot study. A grating and photovoltaic diode were attached to the motor shaft in order
to measure rpm. The output was attached to a frequency counter. The blower was attached
to a variable transformer and the supply voltage (Vac) and current (Iac) were monitored.
Power supplied to the blower was calculated according to the relation: W =Vac× Iac.
b

A plenum, constructed from wood, was bolted onto the outlet of the blower. The plenum
was equipped with four circumferentially distributed static pressure ports. A fine wire mesh
was located between the outlet and plenum to equilibrate the plenum pressure. A side view
schematic of this assembly is shown in fig. 3 and a photograph of the assembly is shown in
fig. 1.

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Final Year Undergraduate Student Project, 2008

Fig. 3. A schematic of the experimental setup, showing the blower, plemum and
speaker.

The pressure ports were joined and connected to an inclined alcohol-based U-tube
manometer, measuring the plenum pressure pp. The manometer was referenced to the
atmospheric pressure p∞ and hence a standard pressure coefficient:

p p − p∞
CP ≡ (1)
2 ρ (ω b Ri )
1 2

was defined, where ρ is the air density, ω b is the rotational frequency (c.f. rpm) of the
impeller blades 2π fb and Ri is the impeller inner radius.

A 100mm circular hole was drilled into the downstream end of the plenum and a 60 Watt-
rated “woofer” acoustic speaker was placed over the hole (see Fig. 4).

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Final Year Undergraduate Student Project, 2008

Fig. 4: A photograph of the “woofer” acoustic speaker at the end of the plenum.

A function generator and amplifier were used to drive the speaker at frequencies ranging
between 20Hz to 200Hz. The excitation voltage supplied to the speaker (Ve) was measured
using a hand-held digital voltmeter; the speaker impedance Z was measured directly and

thus the excitation power was calculated using W e = Ve2 / Z . Based on this calculation,
power inputs were limited to 40-watts to avoid damaging the speaker. Thus the blower
blades were driven in a fully stalled state, while simultaneously periodic perturbations were
introduced in an attempt to control stall. No integer relationship, and hence no phase
relationship, was enforced between the blower frequency and speaker excitation
frequencies. Initial experiments showed that, for a wide range of speaker frequencies, the
pressure within the plenum corresponding to the stalled fan blades increased with
increasing speaker power input. Following this a detailed systematic parametric study was
conducted, and this is described in section 5. The maximum sound level in the plenum was
recorded using a calibrated microphone at 123 dB.

4. Governing parameters

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Final Year Undergraduate Student Project, 2008

The main parameter governing the control of separation from a stationary airfoil or blade in
a two-dimensional flow is the dimensionless frequency:

fe X
F+ ≡ (2)
U∞
where fe is the excitation (or forcing) frequency, X is the distance from the position of
actuation to the trailing-edge of the wing or blade (here blade chord, c) and U∞ is the free-
stream velocity. A wide range of different investigation indicate that the reduced frequency
which produces the largest improvements lift coefficient CL are mainly in the approximate
+
range 0.3 ≤ Fopt ≤ 2 . For separation control on flat plates at low Reynolds numbers with
+
leading-edge separation, the optimum reduced frequency is Fopt ~ 0.5 .

In the case of blades within a radial blower, the characteristic velocity is a vector
combination of the rotation speed ω bRi and the flowrate through the blades Q/A, where Q
is the volumetric flowrate through the blower and A is the blower outlet area. For the
purposes of this investigation, as shown in the previous section, we enforced the conditions
of zero flow rate (Q=0) and hence equation (2) can be written:

fe X X
F+ ≡ ≡ f*
ωb Ri 2πRi

(3)
where

f * = fe / fb (4)

is the excitation to fan-blade frequency ratio.

5. Experimental Method
Following initial observations described in section 3, a systematic parametric study was
carried out in the following manner:

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Final Year Undergraduate Student Project, 2008

1. Fan blades were set in a 45° backward-bladed configuration.


2. The fan was driven using a variable transformer at its design speed, namely
fb=2760rpm (ω b=289 rad/s).
3. Voltage (Vac) and current (Iac) supplied to blower were recorded.
4. Using equation (3), a speaker excitation frequency fe was selected, corresponding to
a value in the reduced frequency range 0.3 ≤ F + ≤ 2 .
5. At this frequency, the power supplied to the speaker was gradually increased from
zero until 40Watts (rms). This was ascertained from a direct voltage measurement
described above.
6. Steps 1 to 3 were repeated for a different frequencies in the range described in item
4 above.
7. Full selected experiments were repeated for the following conditions:
• Blower rotation speed fb=1680rpm.
• Two impeller blades instead of four.
• Fan blades set in a 30° forward-bladed configuration.
7. Tuft-based flow-visualization was carried out using a high-speed camera. This is
described in section 6.6 below.
8. Additional experiments were performed for a wide range of perturbation
frequencies, and these are discussed in sections 6.2.

6. Discussion of Results
6.1 Effect of Actuator Power
Based on the procedure described in items 1-6 above, the plenum pressure was considered
as a function of power supplied to the speaker. Fig. 5 shows the controlled pressure
coefficient as a function of the speaker excitation power for a range of relevant reduced
frequencies, defined in equations 3 and 4. All data show the same basic trend: namely that
the plenum pressure increases with increasing excitation power and then saturates. The
maximum overall pressure rise is approximately 40% and occurs at reduced frequencies in
the range 0.33 ≤ F + ≤ 0.59 . At lower frequencies and higher frequencies, smaller plenum
pressure increases are observed.

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Fig. 5: Plenum pressure coefficient as a function of actuator excitation power input


for a backward-bladed impeller; rotational speed = 2760rpm.
3
In order to gain a clearer perspective on the relative pressure rise and the relative speaker
power, the same pressure data is shown where pressure change, namely
∆ Cp≡ Cp(controlled)–Cp(uncontrolled) is plotted as a function of the relative actuator
power, i.e. the W e / W b (see fig. 6). The graph shows that the 40% pressure rise due to

Cp
control is achieved with an increase of only 2% of the fan power input. For the present
case, the flowrate Q is zero and hence the air power is also zero. However, for small Q
similar results may be expected and hence the air power pQ will also increase by 40% with
an increase in actuator power of only 2%. Moreover, because the actuator power is so low,
the overall fan efficiency η will also show approximately 40% improvement, where
overall fan efficiency is defined as:

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air power pQ
η≡ = (5)
measured fan power + actuator power Vac I ac + Ve2 / Z

At larger Q no clear conclusions can be anticipated regarding the pressure increase because
it is not clear how excitation will affect the flowfield at a different operating point.
Nevertheless, the significant increase in fan pressure under fully stalled conditions as
presented here is very encouraging.

Fig. 6: Change in the plenum pressure coefficient as a function of the relative actuator
excitation power input W e / W b for a backward-bladed impeller; rotational speed =

0.8
2760rpm.

The possibility that the pressure rise was caused by an acoustic standing wave was ruled
out due to the fact that the acoustic wavelength λ =a/fe was always very much larger than
the largest blower dimension. Nevertheless, data was acquired for the entire excitation

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frequency range with no fan rotation, and no measurable effect was observed on the plenum
pressure.

The identical procedure was followed for the impeller blades oriented in a 30° forward-
bladed configuration and the data are shown in figs. 7 and 8. The overall trends are similar
with some relatively minor differences. The forward bladed configuration achieves a lower
maximum plenum pressure without control and when control is applied the plenum
pressure increase is smaller. The net result therefore is a similar percentage increase,
namely 40%. The differences in pressure rise can be seen by comparing the stall
mechanism of backward- and forward-bladed impellers (fig. 9). All “operating points”
enforced in this experiment were for (Q=0), corresponding the data points intersecting the
pressure axis. We notice that as Q decreases from its maximum, the forward-facing blades
stall visibly and then pressure begins to rise again as Q→0. The backward-facing blades
exhibit a much gentler stall with pressure continuously decreasing as Q→0. In the former
case the flow attaches partially to the blades while in the latter case the flow becomes more
separated. Hence when perturbations are introduced, as was performed in this investigation,
the more separated flow shows the largest gain in pressure as the effect on the separated
shear layer is largest. Conversely, the less separated shear layer shows a smaller increment.
It should be expected, however, that at intermediate Q the effect of perturbations will be
greatest on the forward-facing blades in the vicinity of the onset of stall. This could be the
subject of a further investigation of this work.

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Final Year Undergraduate Student Project, 2008

3
Fig. 7: Plenum pressure coefficient as a function of actuator excitation power input
for a forward-bladed impeller; rotational speed = 2760rpm.

1
∆Cp
Fig. 8: Change in the plenum pressure coefficient as a function of the relative actuator
excitation power input W e / W b for a forward-bladed impeller; rotational speed =

2
2760rpm.

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0.8
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Fig. 9: Measured blower characteristics fir forward and backward bladed impellers –
arbitrary linear units (from ????) .

6.2 Effect of Reduced Frequencies

Based on the above results, additional data were acquired for a range of perturbation
frequencies corresponding to 0.2 ≤ F + ≤ 2 . At each frequency, the saturation pressure
was acquired, i.e. the pressure at which no further increases are observed with additional
speaker power. Changes in the pressure coefficient as a function of reduced frequency for

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the backward bladed impeller at two fan speeds is shown in fig. 10. The data indicate that
there is clearly an optimum frequency in the approximate range 0.3 ≤ F + ≤ 0.6 and that
this frequency is independent of the fan speed. At higher frequencies, a reduction in
pressure is observed for F+>1 at the lower fan speed.

0.8
Fig. 10: Pressure coefficient rise as a function of reduced frequency for the backward-
bladed impeller at two different fan speeds.

The identical experiment was performed, but this time with the forward-bladed
configuration at the maxim rpm and the data are shown, together with the backward bladed
impeller, in fig. 11. The dependence of the pressure coefficient on reduced frequency is
similar but seems to exhibit a sharper peak at F+~0.4. Nevertheless, the data for F+>0.7 is
almost indistinguishable, within experimental uncertainty, for the backward and forward

∆Cp
bladed configurations. The figure also shows data acquired with only two blades. In general
the pressure rise is slightly smaller, but the over trend as a function of reduced frequency is
similar. This suggests that the pressure increases are not dependent on the internal geometry
of the blower impeller, but rather that the perturbations are interacting with the shear layer
over the blades. Further evidence of this is presented in section 6.3 below.

0.4
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A representative Reynolds number for the blower is based on the conditions at boundary
layer separation, i.e. at the inner radius Ri. Hence the Reynolds number is:

ρωb Ri c
Re b =
µ
(6)

On the basis of this definition, representative Reynolds numbers at 1680rpm and 2760rpm
are 13,600 and 22,400 respectively

Fig. 11: Pressure coefficient rise as a function of reduced frequency for the backward-
bladed and forward bladed impellers at 2760 rpm.

It is instructive to compare the pressure rise of the blower with the pressure difference (lift)

0.8
across a flat plate airfoil (two-dimensional section) of the same geometry as the impeller
blades and at similar Reynolds numbers. Airfoil data acquired by Greenblatt et al (2008)
indicating lift coefficient as a function of reduced frequency is shown in fig. 12 and
selected corresponding smoke-based flow visualization is shown in fig. 13. In this instance
perturbations were supplied at the leading-edge of the airfoil by means of a plasma-based

∆C 17
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body-force. Notwithstanding the different methods of perturbation, the similarities between


the pressure rise (figs. 10 and 11) with the lift coefficient increase (fig. 12) are remarkably
similar, with both showing an optimum around F+~0.5.

0.5
Fig. 12: Flat plate airfoil lift data as a function of reduced excitation frequency.
Perturbations are supplied by plasma-based actuators at the airfoil leading-edge
(Greenblatt et al, 2008).

0.4
∆Cl 18
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(a) Baseline

(b) F+=0.42

(c) F+=2.1

Fig. 13: Flat plate airfoil flow visualization for the baseline case and two reduced
excitation frequencies. Perturbations are supplied by plasma-based actuators at the
airfoil leading-edge (Greenblatt et al, 2008).

0.8
Fig. 14: Pressure coefficient rise as a function of frequency ratio for the backward-
bladed impeller at two rotational speeds.

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It is evident from equation (3) that the reduced excitation frequency F+ and the

dimensionless frequency f * = f e / f b are linearly related by the factor X/2π Ri. The data
plotted on this basis are shown in fig. 14. It is evident, therefore, that for a given blower
geometry an optimum physical excitation frequency can be established that is only a
function of the rotation speed. This result is important as it could be used to establish a
relatively simple feed-forward control loop in order to maximize blower pressure. A
feedback loop could also be introduced to automate and optimize the system fully.

6.3 Flow Visualization

As mentioned in the previous section, it was believed that the measured increases in
plenum pressure were due to excitation of the separated shear layer over the leading-edges
of the blades. In order to investigate this, 1.5cm long cotton tufts were glued to two
opposite blade leading-edges (see the locations of tufts 1-3 in fig. 15). The fan was run at
2760 rpm and filmed under two conditions: (1) no excitation frequency introduced
(baseline case) and (2) a control frequency of 70Hz corresponding to F+=0.6 introduced
(controlled case). The leading-edge region of the blades was then filmed for both cases with
a high speed digital camera (4kH), that was triggered by the photovoltaic diode via the
grating mounted on the motor shaft (described in section 3). A white triangle was placed on
the impeller back-plate to indicate the relative position for comparisons (see fig. 15).

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Fig. 15: A CAD rendering of the impeller showing the location of the cotton tufts.

Eight representative phases of the rotation are shown in figs. 16-23. Initial observations
indicated that the phase-dependent tuft direction was significantly affected by the
perturbations. Before describing the effects it is important to note that the blades tested here
are essentially low aspect ratio semispan wings and not two dimensional airfoils. In
stationary flows over large aspect ratio wings (AR>4), only the inboard flow, not too close
to the tunnel wall or vehicle body can be considered quasi-two-dimensional. In such cases
control deflects the shear layer closer to the wall. For the present experiments, where the
blades have an equivalent aspect ratio of 2.4, the flow can be expected to be highly three-
dimensional. On stationary low aspect ratio wings, the tip flow is dominated by a strong
vortex. The vortex strengthens when control perturbations are introduced (see Greenblatt &
Washburn, 2008). It should thus be appreciated that the present flowfield is far more
complex than a simple two dimensional approximation due to the low aspect ratio, rotation
of the blades and fully separated nature of the flowfield.

It is convenient to discuss the first three phases together (figs. 16-18) as the show a similar
tuft behavior. Here we initially consider tuft furthest inboard (number 3– yellow highlight)
in order to obtain a qualitative sense of the effect of control. A visual comparison of the

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baseline and controlled cases shows that the tuft is deflected closer to the wall by the
perturbations. The inherent stiffness of the thread does not allow it to bend fully in the
direction of the flow, but the observed deflection indicates that, in a mean sense, the flow
must be deflected closer to the wall. In contrast, the tuft located close to the tip is deflected
further from the surface, while the midspan tuft shows no meaningful change. Clearly, the
effect of control is not uniform along the span and in this sense it is very different from our
principal experiences in two-dimensional non-rotating flows. The differences between
corresponding tufts of the controlled and uncontrolled cases become successively smaller
as the tufted blade moves to the top of the blower housing. This is because the acoustic
perturbations are weaker in this region, being further from the speaker and not directly
impacted by the plane acoustic wave being introduced at the blower outlet.

In the fourth phase (fig. 20), the opposite-bladed outboard tuft is highlighted in purple {this
should be purple!} In this instance the tuft near the tip is deflected closer to the blade, while
the opposite is true for the inboard tufts. This trend continues from phase 4 though phase 8.
It is difficult to explain because it is precisely the opposite trend observed on the opposite
blade when it was in the same physical location and indicates a lack of absolute symmetry
within the blower casing. Simultaneously, on the opposite blade (discussed above, right
hand side tufts in figs. 21-23) shows the same trend, namely that the outboard tuft is closer
to the blade with control, while the inboard tufts are furher.

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(a) Baseline

(b) Controlled

Fig. 16: Individual frames of high speed photographs of the impeller leading-edge
region. Tuft number 3, the furthest inboard, is highlighted. Phase 1.

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(a) Baseline

(b) Controlled

Fig. 17: Individual frames of high speed photographs of the impeller leading-edge
region. Tuft number 3, the furthest inboard, is highlighted. Phase 2.

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(a) Baseline

(b) Controlled

Fig. 18: Individual frames of high speed photographs of the impeller leading-edge
region. Tuft number 3, the furthest inboard, is highlighted. Phase 3.

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(a) Baseline

(b) Controlled

Fig. 19: Individual frames of high speed photographs of the impeller leading-edge
region. Tuft number 3, the furthest inboard, is highlighted. Phase 4.

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(a) Baseline

(b) Controlled

Fig. 20: Individual frames of high speed photographs of the impeller leading-edge
region. Tuft number 3, the furthest inboard, is highlighted in yellow; Opposite blade:
tuft number 1, closest to the tip, highlighted in purple. Phase 5.

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(a) Baseline

(b) Controlled

Fig. 21: Individual frames of high speed photographs of the impeller leading-edge
region. Both tufts number 1, furthest outboard, are highlighted in purple. Phase 6.

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(a) Baseline

(b) Controlled

Fig. 22: Individual frames of high speed photographs of the impeller leading-edge
region. Both tufts number 1, furthest outboard, are highlighted in purple. Phase 7.

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(a) Baseline

(b) Controlled

Fig. 23: Individual frames of high speed photographs of the impeller leading-edge
region. Both tufts number 1, furthest outboard, are highlighted in purple. Phase 8.

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6.4 Error estimation


All uncertainties were approximated in the following manner. Consider the function:

f = f ( x, y , z , K ) (4)
δx δy δz
δ f = f ×( + + +K ) (5)
x y z
For example:
∆p ρ × g × h × sin(α )
Cp = =
1 1
× ρ × v2 × ρ × v2
2 2
δh δv
δ Cp = Cp × ( +2 ) (6)
h v

7. Main Conclusions
The present investigation established the viability of using periodic perturbations to
improve performance in radial blowers whose blades are fully stalled. Increases in plenum
pressure of up to 40% were achieved and, based on tuft-based flow visualization, it was
concluded that the pressure increases were brought about due to excitation and deflection of
the leading-edge separated shear layer.

The following specific conclusions were drawn:


1. Optimum reduced control frequencies were found to be F+~0.5 irrespective of the
blade orientation, number of blades or fan speed.
2. At optimum control frequencies, the control effect (pressure rise) saturated at
relatively low relative power, typically around 2%.
3. Under fully stalled or close to fully stalled conditions, air power and fan efficiency
can be expected to increase by up to 40%.
4. Backward bladed impeller blades produced a larger change in pressure coefficients
due to their being fully stalled at zero flowrate conditions.
5. The dependence of blower performance on reduced frequency was remarkably
similar to that seen on airfoils subject to periodic excitation at similar Reynolds
numbers.

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6. Tuft-based flow visualization showed a significant effect of control at the blade


leading-edges. However this effect did not appear to be symmetric in the absolute
frame.

To the best knowledge of the authors, these data are the first and only demonstration of
shear layer or separation control on the blades of a rotating machine. They show great
promise for more sophisticated control techniques. These more advanced techniques can
then be exploited to achieve significant energy savings on large industrial machines. This
will also have a major impact on the control of separation on axial fans, which also suffer
from debilitating blade stall, as well as axial turbines where advanced techniques could be
used to reduce compressor stages.

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References
1. Corke, T.C, Post, M.L., Orlov, D. M., “SDBD plasma enhanced aerodynamics:
concepts, optimization and applications,” Progress in Aerospace Sciences, Vol. 43,
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Acknowledgement

The author would like to gratefully acknowledge the staff of the Danciger Laboratories for
their assistance at all stages of this project.

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Final Year Undergraduate Student Project, 2008

Appendix A

Engineering Drawings of components manufactured for this project.

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