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White Paper Computer Simulation of an Aircraft Environmental Control System © Flowmaster Group. www.flowmaster.com

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Computer Simulation of an Aircraft Environmental Control System

© Flowmaster Group. www.flowmaster.com

Computer Simulation of an Aircraft Environmental Control System

Authors: Shayne Ziegler, Jason Burke. Flowmaster USA

Abstract

This paper describes the use of Fluid Flow Simulation Software to model a passenger aircraft environmental control system. The analysis simulates the cooling pack and the aircraft distribution system in a single model.

The paper details how to use 1D fluid flow analysis to predict the impact of possible design changes on system performance. The object of performing these simulations is to avoid problems that would otherwise be later discovered in testing.

Introduction

Environmental control systems (ECS) involve the implementation of processes that either cool or heat a given amount of air for the comfort of passengers and the safety of electrical equipment. Additionally, it is sometimes necessary to either increase or decrease the moisture content of the air in the system. Changes in atmospheric conditions (temperature, pressure, altitude, relative humidity) often necessitate the thoughtful design of environmental control systems. Computer simulations can decrease design times while leading to a more robust control system. A typical airliner must supply an adequate supply of fresh air while maintaining the cabin at a tolerable pressure and temperature. Modern military aircrafts combine the thermal management and environmental control into a single system further increasing the usefulness of computer simulation.

A 1D lumped parameter methodology can be used to model the environmental control system with or without an integrated system thermal management. In our analysis, the commercially available Flowmaster® software was used to construct the mathematical models. The models were used to size the various components in the control system and to verify that the system performed under various conditions. The analysis focused on the distribution of air based on temperature, pressure and flow rate. Additionally, the cooling pack performance

REF: AERWP03

White Paper Computer Simulation of an Aircraft Environmental Control System © Flowmaster Group. www.flowmaster.com was

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Computer Simulation of an Aircraft Environmental Control System

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was investigated by testing a range of boundary conditions while observing the resulting system conditions.

Computer simulation of an aircraft’s environmental control system enable proper understanding and characterization of the system, helps lower design time and cut down on costly in-flight testing. Components such as the control valves, ram air heat exchangers, recirculation fans and cooling pack compressors can be sized and optimized by the design engineers through simulation. System analysis through simulation on Flowmaster allows engineers to model a variety of conditions before building test vehicles, saving both time and money.

Environmental Control System Background

Most commercial aircraft designs include both a system for heating and cooling the aircraft to maintain a tolerable in-flight environment. These systems must provide the proper airflow required to each passenger. In addition, these systems must keep the pressure of plane within certain perimeters. Changes in atmospheric conditions (temperature, pressure, altitude, humidity) necessitate the thoughtful design of environmental control systems for proper operation. The aerospace ECS designer must also meet weight, size and accessibility requirements for use on an aircraft.

The ECS designer must be aware of several design requirements. These include the pressure differential between cabin and the exterior, cabin pressure rate of change on ascent or descent, temperature differential, ventilation flow rates and airflow supply flow rates in the cabin.

The ECS designer must ensure that any air cooling and distribution design proposed is capable of meeting all of the above requirements prior to implementation. With this in mind the concentration of any air distribution analysis work would be the determination of air pressures, temperatures and air flow rates throughout the system.

A second area of importance to the ECS designer is the performance of the cooling packs used to provide temperature control for the circulating air. Such systems work on an air cycle. This type of unit is depicted in Figure 1 on the next page. Bleed air is taken from the engine compressor for purposes of cooling. The bleed air (Hot Pressurized Air) is passed through one or more heat exchangers

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Computer Simulation of an Aircraft Environmental Control System

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where it exchanges heat with ambient air (RAM air). The cooled bleed air then is passed through a turbine where it is expanded and cooled further. The power output of the turbine drives a compressor that is used to pressurize the air prior to entry into the turbine. This design is referred to as a ‘bootstrap’ turbine.

This design is referred to as a ‘bootstrap’ turbine. Figure 1 - Drawing of an Aircraft

Figure 1 - Drawing of an Aircraft ECS System. Reproduced from 1991 ASHRAE Applications Handbook.

Next, the air is passed through a water separator used to collect the condensate produced in the turbine. This is the mechanism normally employed to control the moisture content of the air introduced into the passenger compartment. Both high and low pressure designs exist for this function. The water separator is one of two components in the circuit (the other being the turbine) where large scale changes in moisture content are expected from inlet to outlet.

Finally, the cooled dehumidified air is introduced into the passenger compartment by way of a distribution system.

Such cooling packs usually operate on an air cycle as described above, however vapor compression cycles are also encountered. An engineer may well need to size a compressor or turbine or heat exchanger in order to ensure that the system as a whole is capable of meeting the thermal requirements imposed.

ECS Test Case Overview

The focus of the study was to take a commercial aircraft and to investigate the feasibility of modeling an ECS system for that aircraft. In our study, we specifically looked at varying items such as duct (pipe) sizes, flow exhaust ports, compressor

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Computer Simulation of an Aircraft Environmental Control System

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sizes to obtain an acceptable design. The design in this study would be considered an initial layout and sizing operation. More detailed three dimensional pipe layouts were not a part of this study.

The Boeing 737- 800 was selected as an approximate aircraft size. The estimated characteristics of the aircraft are shown in Table 1.

characteristics of the aircraft are shown in Table 1. Table 1 – Estimated Aircraft Characteristics The

Table 1 – Estimated Aircraft Characteristics

The estimated aircraft information was used to create a representative model that would have a realistic system volume and length of piping. Please note that Flowmaster USA did not use any engineering data or piping layouts of the Boeing 737-800. The aircraft dimensional characteristics were used as an estimation.

Design Criterion

The design requirements of the cabin Environmental Control System for this study are of Pressure, Flow Rate and Temperature. Cabin humidification design considerations were omitted from this study.

A very crucial design requirement is cabin pressure. As the outside pressure varies with altitude, so does the operating pressure inside the cabin. The maximum cabin to outside pressure differential is limited by the schedule of steel on the cabin hull. According to ASHRAE², commercial aircraft have an 8.60 psi maximum cabin to outside pressure differential. At a cruise altitude of 39,000ft, the cabin pressure is approximately 11.5 psi (cabin equivalent altitude of 6,900ft.)². This study investigated steady state conditions at cruise altitude. For transient analysis, varying cabin pressure and the rate of change of internal pressure should also be considered.

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Computer Simulation of an Aircraft Environmental Control System

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The flow rate of air in the Environmental Control System depends directly the 100% capacity number of passengers in the aircraft. The total flow rate supplied is equal to approximately 20 cfm per passenger². The total flow rate is typically comprised of 50% fresh air and 50% filtered recirculated air. This rate of fresh air supply results in a complete cabin air exchange approximately every 2½ minutes¹. As shown in Table 1, the capacity of this aircraft was assumed to be 176 passengers. Thus the required fresh air flow rate for this aircraft is approximately 1760 cfm and the required recirculation air flow rate is approximately 1760 cfm.

Air velocity relates directly to the flow rate of air supplied. Although air velocity

is important consideration, no design criterion was applied to this study.

The final cabin design consideration is temperature. Cabin temperature must be maintained to tolerable limits throughout the flight. Outside air temperatures

can vary from -115°F at high altitudes in frigid locations to 120°F at ground level in very high temperature regions of the world. Opinion of tolerable limit can vary from passenger to passenger. For the study, 65°F to 75°F was chosen as

a design target. Passengers affect the temperature of the cabin as they release

heat into the cabin atmosphere. In this cruise altitude steady state analysis, the passenger heat generation was modeled as the primary heat load on the system.

The cooling pack has some additional design considerations. The turbine jet engine bleed air system supplies the fresh air to the air conditioning pack. The bleed system must be designed to provide a regulated pressure to the air conditioning pack. At cruise conditions, the regulated bleed air enters the air conditioning pack at a pressure of 30 psi¹. The temperature of air varies significantly depending on flight conditions. At cruise speed and altitude, the bleed air temperature is approximately 400°F¹. However, this temperature can vary from 300 to 550°F during decent or climb. In this study we looked at steady state conditions, so 400°F was used in the analysis.

Flowmaster Computer Model

The system was modeled and analyzed with commercially available Flowmaster software. Flowmaster is a 1-Dimensional fluid flow and pressure drop analysis tool that performs both Steady State and Transient calculations. Heat transfer

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Computer Simulation of an Aircraft Environmental Control System

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and compressible analysis are also available. The environmental control system is an airflow system, thus the study was conducted with the compressible analysis module.

The model was created by building a schematic representation of the system with Flowmaster’s graphical user interface. A database of standard components are available to the user along with the ability to create customized component models. After creating the graphical representation of the model, engineering data is entered into component data sheets through the Windows® style interface. The drag and drop interface is divided up into a series of families, such as pipes, valves, junctions, gauges, orifices etc.

The first section detailed was the plane cabin. Figure 2 shows a section of the engine cabin Flowmaster model. Starting at the top of this figure and working down, you can see the Flowmaster pipe and junction components that represent the supply ducts. Next, there are valve and orifice components that model the passageway to the cabin. Additionally, the component labeled ‘HC’ models the heat flow from the passengers to the cabin air. Attached to this heat flow component is a gauge that measures volumetric flow rate and displays the results as per person for this region of the cabin. Finally, the pipe at the bottom of Figure 2 models the actual cabin. This pipe component was modeled as a very large diameter to simulate the cabin volume. Another set of orifice, pipe and junction components model the return ducting (not shown in Figure 2).

components model the return ducting (not shown in Figure 2). Figure 2 – Section of the

Figure 2 – Section of the Flowmaster cabin model

This portion of the model could represent a single row of passengers or a section of passengers. The method of modeling affects the input component data and

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the size of the model. However, the smaller the section that the above model segment represents, the more detailed the results will be. For this study, we decided a segment of the model as shown in Figure 2, represents a section of eight passengers. Thus, a total of twenty two simulation model segments (two rows of eleven) were used to model the cabin.

The cabin air was supplied by both fresh air supplied by two cooling packs and by 50% recirculation. Each cooling pack supplied half the necessary fresh air flow rate. The cooling pack model is shown in Figure 3. The fresh air supplied to cabin originates from the engine bleed air. The high temperature bleed air is cooled by the primary heat exchanger (labeled ‘primary’) and then enters the compressor component. The exit of the compressor then passes through the secondary heat exchanger to some piping on to the re-heater and condenser.

exchanger to some piping on to the re-heater and condenser. Figure 3 – Flowmaster Cooling Pack

Figure 3 – Flowmaster Cooling Pack Model

At the outlet of the condenser is the water extractor. However, this system was modeled as a single phase environment. Only the pressure losses associated with the water extraction are included in the model. After water extraction, the air is passed through the re-heater heat exchanger again and then enters the turbine component.

The turbine component was the only custom component model used in this analysis. This type of component is referred to by Flowmaster as an External Component Module (ECM). The engineering equations that relate the temperature, pressure, flow rate, power, turbine speed etc for this component were encoded

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into a relatively simple C programming code. Flowmaster then incorporates that

C code with its solver to perform the analysis. The turbine model used in

this analysis uses a two turbine surface maps. One surface relates mass flow rate to pressure ratio and turbine speed. The other relates turbine efficiency to mass flow rate and pressure ratio. The method was found in Internal Combustion Engine Fundamentals⁽³⁾. Alternate theoretical or test data models could be applied with a similar method.

The combination of the turbine and compressor components model a bootstrap

compressor. In reality, the compressor and turbine are connected via the turbine shaft that powers the compressor. In the Flowmaster model, the two components are connected with control signal connections. The turbine calculates power and torque. The quantity of torque is sent as a signal to the compressor component. The compressor uses this signal and returns an output of speed

to the turbine. The net result is the compressor and turbine operate at the same

speed. Additionally, the power output by the turbine equals the power input to the compressor. Although the hydraulic input by the compressor does not exactly equal the turbine power output, as the compressor efficiency is considered.

Another item of importance in this model is the RAM air.

Another item of importance in this model is the RAM air. Figure 4 – Flowmaster Mix

Figure 4 – Flowmaster Mix Manifold model

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The temperature and quantity of RAM air affects the both the primary and secondary heat exchanger performance. The performance of these heat exchangers eventually affects the outlet temperature and flow rate from the turbine. The RAM air was estimated for cruise altitude and speed at a temperature of -70 F and a pressure of 11.3 psi. The two control valves regulate the flow rate of air through the heat exchangers. In a detailed study, thoughtful considerations would be made to the sizing and characteristics to the RAM air flow control system. Furthermore, the heat exchanger performance maps could be input into Flowmaster to get a more accurate result. All of this data will affect the temperature exiting the turbine.

The cooled air leaving the turbine side of the bootstrap compressor is cooled below the proper supply temperature. This extra cooling capacity is used to provide the condensate cooling. If the system is adjusted properly, the air exiting the condenser will be at the correct temperature, pressure and flow rate. The air conditioning pack supply fresh air to the aircraft’s mix manifold.

The mix manifold combines the filtered, recirculated air with the fresh air from the air conditioning pack. Figure 4 shows the Flowmaster model of the Mix Manifold section. Air returns from cabin through ducting. Some of the returned air exits the plane through the exhaust valve. In the Flowmaster model, this valve is modeled as a pressure regulating ball valve. The valve measures the pressure immediately upstream of the valve and adjusts the position to maintain the proper cabin pressurization.

The remaining return air passes through a filter, which was modeled as a discrete loss (miscellaneous component that models pressure loss vs. flow rate). Two fans act as the driving force for the recirculation. In our model, the standard Flowmaster fan component was used. This component uses a curve input of static pressure rise vs. inlet volumetric flow rate. Affinity laws adjust from the design point of the fan to the operating point. The fan data sheet is shown as an example of a Flowmaster component data sheet in Figure 5.

At the exit of the fan is the actual mix manifold. The four discrete loss components have been used to estimate the mixing and entrance losses. The mix manifold exits back to the cabin distribution system through ducting, modeled with the pipe component.

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Control System © Flowmaster Group. www.flowmaster.com Figure 5 – Flowmaster Fan Component Data Figure 6 –

Figure 5 – Flowmaster Fan Component Data

Figure 5 – Flowmaster Fan Component Data Figure 6 – Arrangement of complete Flowmaster ECS Model

Figure 6 – Arrangement of complete Flowmaster ECS Model

All of these sections were tied together to create a single model that represents the cabin environmental control system. Figure 6 shows the whole model as it was used in our simulation.

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White Paper Computer Simulation of an Aircraft Environmental Control System © Flowmaster Group. www.flowmaster.com Cabin

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Cabin Model Results

The ECS model results were achieved through a series of analysis. Components such as the turbine and compressor in the cooling pack required sizing to produce the required flow rate, pressure and temperature. At times, sections of the model were analyzed independently to aid in sizing. However, modifying one segment of the system will affect the entire system performance.

The entire model was analyzed to determine final results. Results were compared to the design criterion and if needed changes to components were made. Typically, multiple changes to the system were required to get the entire system to meet all design criterions. For example, modifying the recirculation fan size to change the percent recirculation may also result in a change in cabin pressure and temperature. The change in cabin pressure then changes the backpressure on the cooling packs and affects the cooling pack performance. The final results were culminated from the series of analysis and models.

The cabin had three main design criterions the results were compared against, volumetric flow rate per passenger, cabin pressure and cabin temperature. The volumetric flow rate per passenger was automatically calculated by a gauge component. The flow rate was calculated at all twenty two of the modeled distribution points in the system. The cabin model has two parallel flow paths that have identical results. Only one set of data is presented. The results are shown as a function of distance from the first distribution point downstream of the mix manifold.

Figure 7 shows the both the Volumetric Flow rate Distribution and the supply pressure vs. distance from the first distribution location. As stated in the design criterion, the flow rate per passenger should be 20 cfm. Figure 7 shows that the supply of air starts at 21.6 cfm and decreases to 14.72 cfm at the furthest distance from the mix manifold. The decrease in flow rate to the passengers is attributed to the drop in supply pressure. The pressure of supply air immediately before the passenger control valve and outlet orifice is shown in Figure 7. These results indicate that design changes must be made to provide some of the passengers with the required flow rate. The passengers beyond 40 ft from the first distribution point do not meet the design criterion. Piping changes could be made to decrease the pressure drop in the supply line.

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Control System © Flowmaster Group. www.flowmaster.com Figure 7 – Volumetric Flow Rate and Supply Pressure Vs.

Figure 7 – Volumetric Flow Rate and Supply Pressure Vs. Distance from First Distribution Point

The design criterion for cabin pressure was 11.60 psi. Figure 8 shows a section of the system pressure plot generated by Flowmaster. The results at the nodes that separate the Aisle pipes represent the pressure in the cabin. Three of these pressures are shown in Figure 8 with the value of 11.64 psi. The cabin is modeled a segmented large pipe. Due to the size and velocity in the pipe, the cabin does not have pressure variation. Three dimensional flow patterns inside the cabin are not modeled as Flowmaster is a 1D fluid flow solver.

are not modeled as Flowmaster is a 1D fluid flow solver. Figure 8 – Flowmaster System

Figure 8 – Flowmaster System Pressure Plot (results shown in psia)

Finally, the temperature inside the cabin must meet the design criterion. Both the temperature of the air supplied to the passengers and the cabin temperature must be considered. The cabin may be at an appropriate average temperature, but if the air blowing on the passengers is very cold then the design is undesirable.

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The final design had a ECS supply temperature of approximately 65.2°F throughout the cabin. Although the supply temperature was nearly constant, the average cabin temperature by zone did vary. Figure 9 shows the cabin temperature vs. distance from the first distribution point. Beyond 20 feet from the first air distribution point the cabin become somewhat warm. The temperature of the cabin is a heat balance between the air entering, the air leaving and the heat generated by the passengers. As shown in Figure 7 the flow rate of air is less than the design criterion in this region. The lack of flow rate of 65.2°F air creates this increase in average zone temperature.

This problem could be addressed in a number of ways. The total flow rate of cool air could be increased. Alternatively, the temperature of the supplied air could be decreased. Both solutions would affectively shift the temperature gradient downward. Another solution is to increase the supplied cool air flow rate in the areas where the flow rate does not meet the design criterion. This would require piping changes as earlier described.

In summary, the cabin model resulted in the ability to predict the pressure, temperature and air supply flow rate. The model allows the engineer to quickly simulate possible design changes without the need for testing.

possible design changes without the need for testing. Figure 9 – Cabin Temperature vs. Distance from

Figure 9 – Cabin Temperature vs. Distance from First Distribution Point

Mix Manifold Model Results

The mix manifold section has some design criterion to meet and has sizing results for the recirculation fans. According to the design criterion, 50% of the

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White Paper Computer Simulation of an Aircraft Environmental Control System © Flowmaster Group. www.flowmaster.com air

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air should be recirculated and 50% should be fresh air. This mix is determined by the output conditions of the two air conditioning pack, the size of the recirculation fans and the cabin pressure drop characteristics.

fans and the cabin pressure drop characteristics. Figure 10 – Flowmaster Mass Flow Rate Results at

Figure 10 – Flowmaster Mass Flow Rate Results at the Mix Manifold (results shown in lb/min)

Rate Results at the Mix Manifold (results shown in lb/min) Table 2 – Flowmaster Recirculation Fan

Table 2 – Flowmaster Recirculation Fan Results

Figure 10 and Table 2 characterize the final system design. Figure 10 displays the mass flow balance in the mix manifold section. Approximately 48% of cabin supply air is recirculated and 52% is fresh air from the air conditioning packs.

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White Paper Computer Simulation of an Aircraft Environmental Control System © Flowmaster Group. www.flowmaster.com Table

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Table 2 lists the Flowmaster component results for the recirculation fan. The recirculation fan characteristics were defined in Figure 5. A good estimation of the final design fan and fan motor size can be made with the input characteristics and the results in Table 2. The hydraulic input result is of specific concern as it relates to how large a motor must be used on the fan. The method allows the engineer to see the impact design changes have on the required recirculation fan size.

Cooling Pack Model Results

For the cabin ECS to operate in the design parameters, the air conditioning packs must be sized properly. Though there is some additional results we can look at. One method for looking at the performance of the cooling pack is constructing a Temperature vs. Pressure plot of the air. Figure 11 shows the Flowmaster cooling pack results.

air. Figure 11 shows the Flowmaster cooling pack results. Figure 11 – Cooling Pack Performance Displayed

Figure 11 – Cooling Pack Performance Displayed as a P-V diagram

Additionally, Table 3 shows the operating point of the bootstrap compressor system in our model. This information could be used in comparison to manufacturer’s specifications.

be used in comparison to manufacturer’s specifications. Table 3 – Bootstrap Compressor / Turbine Results

Table 3 – Bootstrap Compressor / Turbine Results

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Conclusion

The use of fluid flow analysis to simulate an aircraft environmental control system can provide valuable information to a system designer. The system can be analyzed from the cooling pack to the aircraft distribution system in a single model. The design engineer can draw conclusions from the analysis that allows changes early in the design phase.

Computer simulation can enable proper understanding and characterization of the system, help lower design time and cut down on costly in-flight testing. Sizing and optimization of components such as the control valves, ram air heat exchangers, recirculation fans and cooling pack compressors can be achieved. Airflow rates and temperature distributions through the cabin can be predicted. Analysis through simulation on Flowmaster allows engineers to model a variety of conditions before building test aircrafts, saving both time and money.

References

1 Commercial Airliner Environment Control System.

2 ASHRAE Applications Handbook, Chapter 9 Aircraft, 1991.

3 Heywood, John B. Internal Combustion Engine Fundamentals. McGraw-Hill Publishing Company. Pp 263-270.

© Flowmaster Group. The information supplied in this document is for informational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. The mark Flowmaster is a community Trade Mark of Flowmaster Group BV. Flowmaster is a registered trademark of Flowmaster Group BV in the USA and Korea. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners. The Flowmaster product is developed and maintained in accordance to the ISO 9001 Quality Standard.

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