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Performance Test of a Centrifugal Fan

Michael Adrian Vallecera Ygnacio1

Abstract: Centrifugal fans use the kinetic energy of the impellers to increase the volume of the air/gas stream.
which in turn moves them against the resistance caused by ducts, dampers and other components. Centrifugal fans
displace air radially, changing the direction (typically by 90) of the airflow. They are sturdy, quiet, reliable, and
capable of operating over a wide range of conditions. The experiment aims to evaluate the performance of a centrifugal
fan in the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory of the University of San Carlos. This is done through the use of fluid
flow analysis and by establishing a velocity profile to determine the effects of varying the opening of the duct on the
air flowrate.

Author keywords: Centrifugal Fan; Velocity Profile; Static Head; Velocity Head.

Because of the high pressure the centrifugal
Fans and blowers provide air for ventilation and fans create, centrifugal fans are ideal for high pressure
industrial process requirements. Fans generate a pressure applications such as drying and air conditioning systems.
to move air (or gases) against a resistance caused by As all of their moving parts are enclosed and they also
ducts, dampers, or other components in a fan system. The have particulate reduction properties that makes them
fan rotor receives energy from a rotating shaft ideal for use in air pollution and filtration systems.
and transmits it to the air. Fans, blowers and compressors
are differentiated by the method used to move the air, The major types of centrifugal fan are: radial,
and by the system pressure they must operate against. As forward curved and backward curved. Radial fans are
per American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) industrial workhorses because of their high static
the specific ratio - the ratio of the discharge pressure over pressures (upto 1400mmWC) and ability to handle
the suction pressure - is used for defining the fans, heavily contaminated airstreams. Because of their simple
blowers and compressors. design, radial fans are well suited for high temperatures
and medium blade tip speeds.
The centrifugal fan was invented in 1832 by \
military engineer Lieutenant General Alexander
Sablukov of the Russian Empires Imperial Russian

Often called blowers, centrifugal fans vary

differently from axial fans. The pressure of an incoming
airstream is increased by a fan wheel, a series of blades
Fig. 1. Radial Blade
mounted on a circular hub. Centrifugal fans move air
radially the direction of the outward flowing air is Forward-curved fans are used in clean
changed, usually by 90, from the direction of the environments and operate at lower temperatures. They
incoming air. are well suited for low tip speed and high-airflow work -
they are best suited for moving large volumes of air
The airflow created by centrifugal fans is against relatively low pressures.
directed through a system of ducts or tubes. This helps
create a higher-pressure airflow than axial fans. Despite

a lower flow rate, centrifugal fans create a steadier flow

of air than axial fans. Centrifugal fans also require a
higher power input. (Pelonis 2015) Fig. 2. Forward-Curved Blade
Student, Deptartment of Mechanical and
Manufacturing Engineering, University of San Carlos,
Cebu City 6000, Philippines. E-mail:
Backward-inclined fans are more efficient than forward-
curved fans. Backward-inclined fans reach their peak
power consumption and then power demand drops off
well within their useable airflow range. Backward-
inclined fans are known as "non-overloading" because
changes in static pressure do not overload the motor.

Fig. 3. Backward Curved Blade

Experimental Methods

Two different centrifugal fans were available in Fig. 6. Centrifugal Fan with Frequency Setting
the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory of the
University of San Carlos. Both were used in the
experiment. The centrifugal fan that is painted blue is In order to determine the speed of the
coupled with a torque meter. This centrifugal fan has a centrifugal fan, a tachometer is used. Figure 7 shows the
rectangular duct that is transparent. tachometer used in the experiment. The tachometer must
be held stable to ensure stable reading.

Fig. 5. Centrifugal Fan with Torque meter

Fig. 7. Tachometer

The centrifugal fan painted with green is a

centrifugal fan wherein the speed can be varied by the
use of frequency setting. In this experiment, the relation Determination of Static Pressure and Total
between frequency is speed will be obtained. This
centrifugal fan has a circular duct. Caution has to be
observed when operating the machine as there were no The pitot tube was used to determine the static pressure
machine guards placed in the inlet of the fan. and total pressure for the two centrifugal fans. The pitot
tube was connected to a portable u-tube manometer. The
medium used in the u-tube manometer is water. The set-
up is seen on figure 8.
fluid velocity and its position with respect to the
dimensions of the duct and is given by
= 2 + + (3)

where = fluid velocity at the selected point

= distance of the selected point to a
reference point such as the duct
, , and are constants.

Fan Capacity
Fig. 8. U-tube Manometer
The fan capacity is also the volume flow rate
produced by the fan. It can be computed using the
In both the circular and rectangular ducts of the equation:
centrifugal fans, there are designated points as to where = (4)
the static and total pressure were obtained.
where = fan capacity
= cross-sectional area of the duct
Velocity Pressure and Air Velocity V = average fluid velocity in the duct.

In order to obtain the velocity pressure of the points Fan Efficiency

within the ducts, the total pressure and the static pressure
The parameters affecting the fan efficiency are the air
values are needed. Velocity pressure can be computed
power and the shaft power. The shaft provides the power
using the equation:
required to transport the air through the duct. Shaft
= + (1)
power or the input power can be obtained using the
where = velocity pressure
= 2 (5)
= total pressure
= static pressure
where = shaft power
= value of pi
= torque
After getting the velocity pressure, the velocity of the
= shaft speed
fluid or in our case the velocity of air. The velocity of the
fluid flowing through the duct can be calculated using
Since work is being done unto the air therefore the
the equation:
1 output power is the air power. The fluid or air power is
= 2 (2) computed using the equation:

where = velocity pressure = (6)

= fluid density
where = power delivered to the fluid
= fluid velocity
= specific weight of the fluid
= fluid flowrate
Velocity Profile = total head

For us to know the behavior of the fluid within the The fan efficiency can now be obtained as it is the
rectangular and circular ducts, the velocity profile of a ratio of output power over the input power.
fluid flowing through these ducts will be used. Another
thing that can be extracted from the construction of
= (7)
velocity is that the volume flow rate of the air can be
computed. The velocity profile for each of setting was
where = fan efficiency
constructed using the computed data. A quadratic
equation was used to obtain the relationship between the = power delivered to the fluid
= shaft power.
Results and Discussion Table 2. Static Pressure, Total Pressure, Velocity
Pressure and Velocity of Air at the Circular Duct at 50Hz
Table 1 Static Pressure, Total Pressure, Velocity setting
Pressure and Velocity of Air at the Rectangular Duct
Section Ps Pt Pv v
Fully open
1 0.6 1 0.4 0.816497
Section Ps Pt Pv v
2 0.6 0.8 0.2 0.57735
1 3.4 4.3 0.9 1.224745
3 0.6 0.8 0.2 0.57735
2 3 4.5 1.5 1.581139
4 0.6 0.9 0.3 0.707107
3 3.5 4.7 1.2 1.414214
5 0.6 0.65 0.05 0.288675
4 2.8 3.7 0.9 1.224745
5 2.4 4 1.6 1.632993 Table 1 shows the total pressure, static pressure,
6 2.3 4 1.7 1.683251 velocity pressure and the corresponding velocity at
7 5 4.9 0.1 0.408248 various sections of the circular duct. The circular duct
was divided into 5 sections. As observed on the
8 2.8 4.2 1.4 1.527525 computed value of velocity, the trend of velocity is not
9 2.4 2.3 0.1 0.408248 predictable. It deviates that of a theoretical or expected

Table 1 shows the total pressure, static pressure,

velocity pressure and the corresponding velocity at Circular Duct at 50 Hz
various sections of the rectangular duct when the duct 180
was fully open. The velocity was computed using
equation 2. As observed from the tabulated data, the
velocity throughout the duct is not uniform. Some points
Duct dia (mm)

have high velocity while there are also points with very 120
low velocity. 100
Rectangular Duct Velocity 20
Profile Fully Open 0
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
Velocity m/s
Duct dia (mm)

Fig.10. Velocity Profile of Circular Duct at 50Hz setting
The centrifugal fan with the circular duct has a
50 built-in frequency changer. Changing the frequency
changes the speed of the centrifugal fan. As the
0 frequency increases, the speed also increases. Another
0 1 2 thing observed in the centrifugal fan is the high pitch
Velocity m/s
sound it produces. As observed during the experiment,
Fig. 9. Rectangular Duct Velocity Profile @ fully open the pitch of the sound increases as the frequency is also
increased. Figure 9 shows the velocity profile of the
Figure 9 shows the plotted velocity at their
circular duct at 50Hz setting. From the figure, the
corresponding points in the duct. These plotted points
velocity increases from the duct wall towards the center
reveal the velocity profile of the duct when it is fully
however decreases after some point.
open. Most high velocities are located near the center of
the duct while low velocity is observed near the duct
walls. This could be due to friction losses in the duct
Conclusions = specific weight of the fluid;
= fluid flowrate;
From the experiment, the velocity profile of the two- = total head;
different size and shaped duct for two different = fan efficiency;
centrifugal fans were established. The behavior of the
fluid inside the duct has been observed based on the
velocity profile. The velocity is one factor that influences References
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