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CFD For Turbomachinery Parts; Should Manufacturers Really Adopt It?

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CFD for turbomachinery equipment

Computational Fluid Dynamics – CFD has seen a significant importance over the past 25 years, and today it has reached the level of delivering accurate results using robust solvers, in relatively shorter times. It essentially serves in understanding the behavior of heavy turbo machinery equipment, dealing with fluid flow, by virtual simulations of flow and its effects on components while in operation.

CFD can bring in Drastic changes in Energy Consumption

For an exemplified instance, a cement manufacturer was able to visualize the flow pattern inside the duct bend, and upon optimization of its design was able to reduce the energy consumption of blowers and compressors by up to 30% while maintaining exact same mass flow rate. Study of pressure drop using real world boundary conditions with accurate turbulence model in ANSYS Fluent platform enabled the manufacturer to arrive at an optimized design solution. This eliminated the time required for prototype testing and applying the similar analysis results for other ducts across the plant facility.

Cutting Edge Benefits of CFD for Manufacturers

Designing vital parts for turbomachinery includes determination of meridional channel and blade shape. In addition to this, other accessories and duct works are analyzed to attain an overall optimized performance delivered by the unit. Maintaining accuracy throughout is sort of task, though possible, but extremely tedious since it brings along many calculations. On the other hand, with CFD there are several ways to deliver acute results for design optimization and performance analysis.

  • Reduced Time and eliminates prototype testing

With the conventional approach of prototype testing, the construction and design quality verification on test stand occurred during mass or piece production. It sure did delivered results but required huge investments just for the prototype building. On the other hand, the 3D modeling approach delivers the basis for CFD for turbomachinery equipment; which is very accurate, relatively cheaper and delivers quick results. The study of 3D methods allows the fluid flow simulations to reduce, or in some cases even eliminate, a series of experimental setups and processes.

  • Tests for unusual conditions

In addition to time factor, CFD solvers can predict the turbomachinery condition, not only under normal conditions, but also for the reasons where surge appears, a phenomenon which causes the unstable operations. Manufacturers leverage several other tools like these to deliver products on time and maintain a competitive edge in the market. Besides, static inlet & outlet pressure, absorbing boundary, total outlet pressure, existence of shock waves etc. can be studied through virtual simulations; and their effect on the machinery can be known to develop insights for critical modifications needed.

  • Eliminating iterations of experiments

The need for a software capability arises to study the flow equations, is because of the fact that, Navier-Stokes calculations for blades design deliver abundance of information with increased inputs. Such large sets of information are way beyond the grasp of human brain to deploy it for new designs or lead to hit and miss / trial and error approach to verify each set. Such trial and error approach has totally been replaced by CFD tools that solve Navier-Stokes equations pertaining to the fluid flow conditions, which has reduced the time consumption for number of design iterations.

  • Reducing hazard risks

CFD simulations performed prior to manufacturing phase, allows the manufacturer to deliver the products that are consistent with safety standards. Delivery of flow study around the part and its effects on the component behavior in real time situation reveals the critical parts in the designs, which can be manufactured with utmost importance and accuracy. This empowers manufacturers to deliver best quality products without compromising the safety of component operators. Alongside, since the designs are already optimized, it is very unlikely to have any initiation of change orders except from the once arising due to manufacturing shop floor conditions. This essentially helps the manufacturer to carry out seamless process, without affecting product quality.

Conclusion

CFD approach for turbomachinery parts is an excellent way to assist the manufacturers in delivering products of high quality safety standards. Cost effective delivery is sure to be achieved due to reduced manufacturing and testing costs. Since turbomachinery equipment deal with high voltage and current supply and extreme conditions of pressure and temperature; the need to verify the design safety, operations, performance and costs is a vital stage. Resorting to CFD delivers all these aspects with overall optimized performance, which otherwise would lead to compromising one of these factors.

Mehul Patel

About Author: Mehul Patel specializes in handling CFD projects for Automobile, Aerospace, Oil and Gas and building HVAC sectors. He works as a CFD consultant with Hi-Tech CFD for the past 5 years and has successfully executed numerous CFD projects of high complexities. He is an expert in turbo-machinery, gas dynamics, Combustion, Fluid Dynamics, multiphase flow analysis, computational fluid dynamics etc.

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