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Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440 www.elsevier.com/locate/etfs Experimental and numerical
Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440 www.elsevier.com/locate/etfs Experimental and numerical

Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440

Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440 www.elsevier.com/locate/etfs Experimental and numerical

www.elsevier.com/locate/etfs

Experimental and numerical analyses to enhance the performance of a microturbine diffuser

Ernesto Benini * , Andrea Toffolo, Andrea Lazzaretto

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Padova, Via Venezia, 1, 35131 Padova, Italy

Received 8 April 2005; accepted 16 September 2005

Abstract

This paper describes design and off-design behavior of a centrifugal compressor of a 100 kW gas turbine used for small scale power generation and establishes the guidelines to improve diffuser performance. The first part of the paper deals with the experimental and numerical tests on the overall machine: An extensive series of tests at different operating points and rotational speeds is performed using steady probe measurements at impeller exit and diffuser exit; the numerical model features a mixing plane at impeller–diffuser interface and therefore neglects the effect of unsteadiness due to rotor–stator interaction. In the second part of the paper, the true time-dependent rotor–stator interaction is investigated by means of a numerical model where a sliding mesh technique is adopted instead. The unsteady results are then processed and compared with the computed steady flow in the diffuser. Finally, the geometry of the compressor diffuser is optimized using an evolutionary algorithm coupled with a CFD code. 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Optimization; Evolutionary algorithms; Microturbines; Centrifugal compressors; Diffusers

1. Introduction

Microturbine centrifugal compressors require very com- pact diffusers which must operate at the highest efficiency while achieving an adequate pressure recovery and flow turning before the air enters the combustion chamber. Most present design configurations make use of a two- stage vaned diffuser [1] : the first radial row is followed by a 90 annular bend that conveys the flow to an axial deswirl cascade. Little information regarding design guidelines is provided in the open literature to help accomplish the design objectives, and the diffuser apparatus is traditionally designed following very basic rules [2] . Two major issues have to be considered for an efficient design: the most important of the two deals with the radial cascade, which is in fact the most critical because of the strong diffusion that occurs and because of the interaction

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +39 049 8276767; fax: +39 049 8276785. E-mail address: ernesto.benini@unipd.it (E. Benini).

0894-1777/$ - see front matter 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.expthermflusci.2005.09.003

with the impeller. The other is related to the design of the annular bend and the deswirl cascade: within these compo- nents the flow must not generate excessive losses (especially those originating from wall boundary layer growth and sec- ondary flow development) and must leave the blade row with low level of swirl (usually not greater than 15–25 ). In particular, the design of the radial cascade is difficult and involves a lot of designer expertise. The flow leaving the impeller is fully three-dimensional, featuring highly non-uniformities between the hub and the shroud and in the circumferential direction. As a result, a very complex and time-dependent flow field usually occurs in the region between the impeller tip and the diffuser throat due to sec- ondary flows that develop within the machine. This aspect has been documented by several researchers (see, among others [3,4] ). Owing to this complexity, some authors have underlined the weak points of a simple approach that attempts to describe the flow entering the diffuser without the direct effect of impeller interaction [5–7] . On the other hand, with the help of both experimental and numerical simulations, other researchers have indicated that the

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Nomenclature

c

c n , i

C p = p 3 p 2 / p 02 p 2 pressure recovery coefficient of

chord length, m i th coefficient of Bezier polygon

diffuser

F

vector of objective functions (f 1 , f 2 )

g

gap, m

M

Mach number

m_

mass flow rate, kg/s

n

rotational speed, rpm

p

pressure, Pa

R

radius, m

r, r h , z cylindrical coordinates, m

W 0 average value of the generic flow quantity

h angle between profile leading and trailing edges, measured in the tangential direction x = p 03 p 02 / p 02 p 2 aerodynamic loss coefficient of diffuser

Subscripts

0

total

1

compressor inlet

2

impeller outlet, diffuser inlet

3

diffuser outlet

ax

axial diffuser

t, s

time, s

clocking circumferential clocking

T

time period, s

hub

hub

T

temperature, K

le

leading edge

x

vector of decision variables

ps

pressure side

x

coordinate along chord, m

rad

radial diffuser

g is

total-to-total isentropic efficiency

ss

suction side

W

generic flow quantity

te

trailing edge

e

W 0

unsteady component of the generic flow quantity

circumferential non-uniformities are less important than those occurring from hub to shroud in the neighborhood of the best efficiency working point [3,8] . Moreover, many works report that the fluctuations of the thermo-fluid quantities as well as of performance parameters decay very rapidly in the diffuser [9–12] : the ‘‘insensitivity’’ of diffuser performance to the incoming pulsating flow justifies the highly successful diffuser designs that do not account for rotor–stator interaction. This fact has recently encouraged some researchers to study the flow inside diffusers (without the impeller effect) using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) [13,14], and to develop methodologies to optimize diffuser performance. Regarding the latter, Benini and Tourlidakis [15] used a Pareto genetic algorithm and CFD to optimize the shape of a channel diffuser. Zangeneh et al. [16] used a 3D inverse design technique to improve the pressure recovery of a vaned diffuser for a given impeller. This paper deals with performance evaluation and opti- mization of a centrifugal compressor diffuser used in a small gas turbine (100 kW). The paper is virtually divided into three parts. The first refers to the experimental and numerical investigation on the overall compressor and dif- fuser in both design and off-design conditions. The experi- mental tests are performed according to both ASME and UNI-ISO standards. In the second part, CFD is exploited to simulate, visualize and analyze the complex flow gener- ated by the rotor–stator interaction, with particular emphasis on the unsteady behavior of the vaned diffuser. The third part deals with the numerical constrained optimi-

zation of the diffuser apparatus (i.e. the radial and deswirl cascades) for maximum aerodynamic efficiency and pres- sure recovery. The investigated compressor is part of the microturbine SOLAR T62, which is widely used as an auxiliary power unit (APU) in military helicopters and as a ground power unit (GPU) in small light helicopters. The turbine studied in this work is actually the ‘‘Titan’’ T62–T32, a version conceived for continuous operation that can also be used for ground electric power generation. It consists of a one- stage centrifugal compressor mounted back-to-back with a one-stage radial inflow turbine wheel and an annular reverse-flow combustion chamber ( Fig. 1 ). At the design point, the microturbine develops approximately 100 kW shaft power at the rotational speed of 60,000 rpm. Under these conditions, the pressure ratio is 3.5, the air mass flow rate is 1 kg/s, turbine inlet temperature is 788 C and the exhaust gas temperature is 560 C.

2. Investigation on overall compressor and diffuser performance

2.1. Experimental apparatus

In order to measure the overall compressor and diffuser performance, a test rig was set up where the compressor was driven by the microturbine, as in normal engine oper- ation. A sketch of the test rig is given in Fig. 2 . The rig con- sisted of a test-bed where the microturbine was mounted and connected to an eddy-current brake, which measured

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429

Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440 429 Fig. 1. Cutaway drawing of the SOLAR T62–T32

Fig. 1. Cutaway drawing of the SOLAR T62–T32 microturbine.

the torque developed by the engine and the rotational speed of the output shaft. Since the compressor intake is not straight, an inlet pipe ( Fig. 3 ) was built to convey the mass flow rate entering the compressor. The mass flow rate was estimated by measuring the air velocity in the pipe (using a Pitot probe) and air density, as suggested in [17,18]. The mass flow rate was changed by means of a gate valve positioned at the beginning of the inlet pipe. A set of calibrated probes for pressure and temperature measure- ments were placed upstream and downstream of the com- pression stage, as well as in between the impeller and diffuser. In all, the following measurement probes were used (see Fig. 2 ):

1. static pressure probes for p 1 ;

2. rack of total pressure probes for p 01 ;

3. total temperature probes for T 01 ;

4. total temperature probes for T 02 ;

5. rack of total pressure probes for p 02 ;

6. static pressure probes for p 2 ;

7. rack of total pressure probes for p 03 ;

8. total temperature probes for T 03 ;

9. static pressure probes for p 3 ;

10. pitot probe for mass flow rate.

Details on characteristic dimensions and shape of pres- sure and temperature probes at impeller and diffuser exits can be found in Table 1 and in Figs. 4 and 5 . Note that, according to [19] , the internal cone angle of total pressure probes results in a sensitivity angle of about 25 when flow is not aligned with probe axis. This made it possible to determine compressor performance over the entire operat- ing range. The resolution of pressure and temperature sig- nals is 100 Pa and 0.05 K, respectively. Calibration of

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/ Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440 Fig. 2. Sketch of compressor test rig.

Fig. 2. Sketch of compressor test rig.

30 (2006) 427–440 Fig. 2. Sketch of compressor test rig. Fig. 3. View of complete compressor

Fig. 3. View of complete compressor test rig.

Table 1

Probe characteristics

 

Impeller exit

Diffuser exit

Static pressure

No. of holes Diameter

4

4

1 mm

1 mm

Total pressure

No. of probes

2

4 racks of 2 1.2 mm 0.75 mm 30

External diameter

1.2 mm

Internal

diameter

0.75 mm

Internal cone angle

30

Total temperature

No. of probes External diameter Internal diameter Type Insulation

2

4

2 mm

2 mm

1.5 mm

1.5 mm

K

K

PTFE

PTFE

pressure transducers and thermocouples was performed using instruments having superior metrological characteris-

using instruments having superior metrological characteris- Fig. 4. Pressure and temperature probes at impeller exit.

Fig. 4. Pressure and temperature probes at impeller exit.

tics. All the probes showed a highly linear behavior within the required range of measurement. The uncertainty on the mass flow measurement was determined with the help of the standard UNI EN ISO 5167 [20] . The uncertainties of the various terms are: uncer- tainty at the 95% confidence level in input power measure- ments is about ±0.3%; uncertainty of the electromechanical efficiency is about ±0.9% when input power is 100 kW and electromechanical efficiency is 75%; uncertainty of the mass flow rate is about ±0.9%; uncertainty of the pressure ratio is about ±0.6%; uncertainty of the isentropic efficiency is

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Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440 431 Fig. 5. Pressure and temperature probes at diffuser

Fig. 5. Pressure and temperature probes at diffuser exit.

about ±1.2%; uncertainty of the compressor total efficiency is about ±0.9%. All measuring data were collected by a data logger into a computer that evaluated the performance parameters. As a reference for the determination of pressure ratio and isen- tropic efficiency (total-to-total), the ambient pressure and ambient temperature were measured in the test room. Ambient humidity was registered as well. Pressure ratio and isentropic efficiency were evaluated from surge to choke at different rotational speeds (100% n , 90% n , 80% n , 70% n ). Surge was determined by identifying the surge phe-

nomena, that is when periodic noise and intense vibrations occurred. Diffuser performance parameters were also deter- mined at the rotational speeds defined above.

2.2. CFD simulations

In the numerical study of the compressor, a steady state analysis was performed using a mixing plane approach with a single rotating reference frame. This implies that only one impeller channel and one third part of the diffuser were modeled for simulation, since periodic boundaries were adopted. Using such an approach, the governing equations are solved in a reference frame that rotates at the rotational speed of the impeller. The interface between impeller and diffuser was modeled using a mixing plane:

thermo- and fluid-dynamic quantities are averaged in the pitchwise direction through the mixing plane, whereas their actual distribution is maintained in the axial direction. The outlet boundary was located at diffuser exit. Structured sin- gle-block H-type grids were used to mesh both rotating and stationary blade passages ( Fig. 6 ). The overall grid con- sisted of 160,342 nodes which were partitioned in the fol- lowing way: Impeller 28,353 nodes (18%), diffuser 131,989 nodes (82%). For simplicity, the impeller was mod- eled without tip clearance. A limited number of grid sensi- tivity studies were carried out to ensure a satisfactory accuracy of the flow solver. For this purpose, the compres- sor performance map was calculated with the baseline grid described above, as well as with two other grids: the first was coarser (approximately 100,000 nodes) and the latter was finer (approximately 250,000 nodes). Although the results are not reported here for brevity, the sensitivity analysis showed that the baseline grid featured a better capability, with respect to the coarser one, in capturing

grid featured a better capability, with respect to the coarser one, in capturing Fig. 6. Grid

Fig. 6. Grid used in CFD calculations.

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the compressor characteristic curve at part load. On the other hand, no noticeable improvement with respect to the baseline configuration was found using the finer grid. This agrees with the statements reported in [21] and with the results published in [22] : In particular, in the latter paper the authors demonstrated that most of the important effects in centrifugal compressors (i.e. those related to over- all performance) may be captured using a coarse grid of only 30,000 nodes, and that nearly all of the results regard- ing efficiency and pressure rise agree well with respect to measured values. Therefore, all the results presented here were obtained using the baseline grid. Three-dimensional steady-state Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes equations were solved using Fluent5.4 code by Fluent, Inc. The fluid was supposed to be a compressible ideal gas with constant specific heat capacities. A standard ke model [23] was used to account for turbulence in the mean flow and a wall function approach was chosen to solve the boundary layer. All walls (moving and stationary) were treated as hydraulically smooth and adiabatic. Two sets of boundary conditions, corresponding to the near- choke and near-stall conditions, were considered. When operating conditions close to choking were to be analyzed, the measured values of the total pressure and total temper- ature were applied at impeller inlet; at diffuser exit, the measured static pressure was instead prescribed: As a result, the overall mass flow rate of the compressor was estimated. When the working point approached surge, the values of the mass flow rate and total temperature were applied at the inlet, while the measured static pressure was applied at diffuser exit. All the calculated quantities were based on their mass-average values. Using such a steady state approach it was possible to simulate working condi- tions even beyond the compressor stall point obtained experimentally (i.e. at reduced mass flow rates). The last computation for which the CFD code was able to converge was considered a numerical estimation of the stall point because the unsteady calculations performed beyond that point featured perceivable but unstable separations.

2.3. Experimental and numerical results

The characteristic curves of the overall compressor, obtained both experimentally and numerically, are shown in Fig. 7 . The pressure ratio p 03 / p 01 and isentropic effi- ciency g is are plotted as functions of the corrected mass flow rate at four values of the rotational speed: n , 0.9 n , 0.8 n and 0.7 n . The experimental test showed that the com- pressor has quite a narrow operating range at all rotational speeds, and that the normal working point is very close to the choke line, the corrected mass flow being 1.033 kg/s and the pressure ratio 3.6. In this condition, the isentropic efficiency is about 0.7. This operating point presumably gives adequate margins against the occurrence of compres- sor surge without heavy drawbacks on the efficiency. At reduced rotational speeds, the pressure ratio curves flatten out and suggest how careful the operation in these condi-

out and suggest how careful the operation in these condi- Fig. 7. Comparison between experimental and

Fig. 7. Comparison between experimental and computed compressor characteristics.

tions should be in order to avoid the occurrence of flow instabilities. In some cases, significant differences were registered in the code computing accuracy concerning pressure ratio and effi- ciency. At nominal rotational speed, predictions of the pres- sure ratio are excellent over the whole operating range, while those regarding the efficiency are less accurate, the maximum discrepancy being in the order of 4%. At reduced rotational speeds, computed values of the efficiency are quantitatively better while those of pressure ratio are worse (i.e. the code underestimates the pressure rise). In fact, as the rotational speed reduces, the computed characteristic curves are shifted toward lower values of the mass flow rate, i.e. the code found some difficulties in capturing the choke condition. While examining these results, however, the uncertainty on exper- imental data as well as the limitations of the steady state approach and of the turbulence model, especially at part load, must be properly taken into account: the use of the steady-state approach, in particular, is known to give mis- leading results when the operating conditions are very far from the nominal one and strong recirculations at impel- ler–diffuser interface are usually observed. In this case, how- ever, the use of a mixing plane still gives acceptable results because of the narrow operating range of the compressor. Also, the authors believe that some of the discrepancies could be explained with the absence of the tip clearance in the numerical simulations, which would limit the maximum mass flow rate to some extents and would contribute to a reduction in the total pressure ratio and efficiency. The characteristic curves of the diffuser are reported in Fig. 8 . They show both the experimental and computed val- ues of the pressure recovery coefficient C p and the aerody- namic loss coefficient x as functions of the corrected mass flow rate. At the nominal speed, the measured pressure recovery coefficient decreases from 0.5 to 0.45 as the mass flow rate increases from stall to choke (i.e. as the angle of the absolute velocity with respect the tangential direction

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Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440 433 Fig. 8. Comparison between experimental and computed

Fig. 8. Comparison between experimental and computed diffuser characteristics.

increases from 19.4 to 19.9 ). In such conditions, the aero- dynamic loss coefficient increases from 0.45 to 0.51. The same tendency is qualitatively observed at reduced speeds, even though the pressure recovery coefficient is higher at part load, because the dynamic pressure at impel- ler exit decreases much more than the diffuser pressure recovery. On the other hand, the aerodynamic loss coeffi- cient reduces slightly at lower mass flow rates due to the fast decrement of the total pressure loss within the diffuser. Because of the lack of measurement probes in the annular bend, it was not possible to isolate the effect of the radial and axial blade rows on overall diffuser performance and, therefore, to establish whether or not the axial deswirl cascade has a negative effect on compressor efficiency and stability. The agreement between the numerical and experi- mental results is good at design nominal speed, whereas areas of relatively poor code accuracy were found at reduced rotational speed. Again, this can be justified if the simplifications of the numerical model at impeller–dif- fuser interface are taken into account. In any case, the overall results suggest that the CFD model is sufficiently accurate to give realistic indications on diffuser perfor- mance within the overall compressor operating range.

3. Numerical analysis of impeller–diffuser interaction

3.1. Objectives and approach

Viscous and potential effects of rotor–stator interaction are comparable in high-speed centrifugal compressors, since the mixing process that rotor blade wakes undergo is very fast, and the radial gap between rotors and vaned

diffusers is usually very small. As a consequence, a mutual interaction occurs between the components. The influence of the impeller on diffuser flow is mainly characterized by viscous effects caused by rotor wakes, while the influence of the diffuser on the impeller flow is mainly caused by potential effects [1,24,25] . However, a number of experi- mental works [3,8,12,26] have shown that the circumferen- tial flow non-uniformity at impeller exit mixes out very rapidly near the design point, so diffuser flow can be very well approximated as steady. Dawes [5] and Yamane et al. [27] compared a steady approach featuring a mixing plane between impeller and vaned diffuser and the corre- sponding fully-coupled unsteady approach. They clearly showed the influence of unsteady effects in impeller and dif- fuser, in particular the unsteady effects due to the highly distorted impeller flow field (both circumferentially and axially) and those due to the wakes released by impeller blades. In this work, two approaches were investigated:

the unsteady-fully-coupled and a steady-decoupled approach, in which each blade row is treated separately by steady computations and flow quantities at the interface are averaged in time and in the circumferential direction (while preserving their spanwise distribution). The latter approach gives satisfactory results provided that a proper averaging is carried out, and this may be not the case when the spacing between the blade rows is small. An alternative strategy is the frozen rotor approach (see, among others [28] ), in which steady calculations are performed in a num- ber of fixed impeller–diffuser positions. However it was not explored here because its features are taken from both the other approaches and do not help to achieve either accu- racy or computational speediness.

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The objective of the work is twofold: (i) to achieve a bet- ter understanding of the unsteady flow phenomena involved during the interaction; (ii) to assess a quantitative measure of flow unsteadiness within the diffuser, in order to verify how much diffuser performance is affected by the presence of the impeller. The latter objective is fundamen- tal in the optimization of the diffuser apparatus, described in the next section, where several time consuming CFD cal- culations are needed to achieve the final solution. A fully realistic diffuser can be modeled without the upstream impeller provided that the boundary condition at the inter- face accurately simulates the presence of the impeller. A typical difficulty associated with multi-row simula- tions is that each blade row generally has a different num- ber of blades, and that the ratio between the rotor and stator blades (or its inverse) is not an integer value. In our case, due to the lack of periodicity in the blade number of compressor components, the number of blades of the diffuser was modified (12-blades radial and 36-blades des- wirl), in order to simplify the flow domain and reduce the computational effort. As a result, it should not be expected that the computed solution represents accurately the real flow within the original configuration. However, the pur- pose here was much more focused on assessing a method- ology for studying the interaction rather than simulating the real flow. The resulting flow domain was divided into three blocks, each representing a quarter of the real physi- cal domain, for the impeller, the radial and deswirl diffus- ers, respectively. The assembled grid consisted of about 100,000 nodes. The impeller was modeled without tip clearance. The unsteady stator–rotor simulations were carried out using the CFD code Fluent TM , by Fluent Inc., where a slid- ing mesh technique was utilized. The unsteady 3D Rey- nolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) equations for a compressible ideal gas were solved along with a Spalart– Allmaras turbulence model [29] . Standard wall functions were used to link the solution variables at the near-wall cells and the corresponding quantities on the wall. Bound- ary conditions were imposed as follows: the total pressure and total temperature were applied at impeller inlet ( p 01 = 101325 Pa, T 01 = 288.1 K), where the flow was sup- posed to be swirl-free; a constant value of the static pres- sure was maintained at the outlet of the deswirl diffuser ( p 3 = 193913 Pa).

3.2. Results

The unsteady computations were carried out using a time step Dt = 4 · 10 6 s, which corresponds to 1.47 of impeller rotation. The chosen time step was the maximum that made it possible to capture the flow unsteadiness with reasonable accuracy avoiding the increase of the computa- tional effort beyond unacceptable limits. An unsteady run required about 50 h to reach a periodic solution on a Workstation AlphaServer ES40, clock 667 MHz, 1.5 GB RAM. The periodicity of the pressure signal at a point

located between impeller and diffuser blades was consid- ered as a convergence criterion, which was typically satis- fied after one to two complete impeller revolutions. The time average of the unsteady solution was calcu- lated by means of an in-house post-processing tool in order to isolate the unsteady components of the flow quantities. The unsteady component of the generic quantity W (r , h , z , t) was calculated as follows:

W 0 ð r ; h ; z ; t Þ ¼ W ð r ; h ; z ; t Þ W ð r ; h ; z Þ

e

W ð r ; h ; z Þ

where

ð

1 Þ

W ðr ; h ; z Þ ¼

T Z T

1

0

W ð r ; h ; z ; t Þ d t

ð 2 Þ

The instantaneous contours of pressure and Mach num-

ber and of their unsteady components ~p 0 and M 0 are reported in Figs. 9 and 10 , respectively, on a plane which cuts blade passages at impeller exit midspan. These plots correspond to various instants in time during the period T, i.e. the time required for the rotor blade to cover the dis- tance corresponding to one rotor pitch. Note that quanti- ties are time-averaged with reference to the absolute frame in the diffuser, whereas, quantities are time-averaged with reference to the rotating frame in the sliding mesh por- tion including the impeller. As a consequence, a discontinu- ity at the impeller–diffuser interface appears in Figs. 9(b) and 10 (b). The jet flow leaving the impeller is periodically cut by the diffuser leading edge, and this causes periodic pressure fluctuations on both impeller trailing edges and diffuser leading edges. Thus, the largest part of flow unsteadiness comes from the potential effect, which follows the periodic cycles of rotating blade positions relative to the stationary one, and is confined in the semi-vaneless gap between the impeller and radial diffuser. The magnitude of such unsteadiness is in the order of ±10% for both the pressure and Mach number, the core being located very close to the middle of the gap between the rotating and stationary com- ponents. As the flow mixes out in the diffuser, the unstead- iness reduces rapidly and the flow becomes nearly steady. It is worth noting that the flow within the radial diffuser, in particular toward the trailing edge, is almost insensitive to the unsteadiness generated by the impeller. However, quite large fluctuations of the Mach number can be identi- fied in the diffuser along the surfaces of the radial cascade, both on the pressure and suction sides. These fluctuations are probably due to the fact that the stagger angle of the radial cascade is not properly matched with the angle of the flow leaving the impeller. Therefore, the flow acceler- ates or decelerates according to the reciprocal position between the impeller and diffuser blades, i.e. according to both the interception of the jets from the impeller by the radial profile itself (wake effect) and the oscillations of the pressure field in the gap between impeller and diffuser cascades (potential effect).

e

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435

Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440 435 Fig. 9. Instantaneous contours of pressure at diffuser

Fig. 9. Instantaneous contours of pressure at diffuser midspan for different impeller blade positions (a) and instantaneous contours of unsteady pres sure (b).

(a) and instantaneous contours of unsteady pres sure (b). Fig. 10. Instantaneous contours of Mach number

Fig. 10. Instantaneous contours of Mach number at diffuser midspan for different impeller blade positions (a) and instantaneous contours of unsteady Mach number (b).

The unsteady performance coefficients ( x and C p ) of the overall diffuser apparatus were calculated as well, and their values are reported in Fig. 11 as a function of the impeller revolutions counter. The mass-flow weighted average val- ues were calculated and made dimensionless with respect

to their time average value: it can be noted that the fluctu- ations of x are less than ±0.5% and those of C p are even less. The time averaged values of x and C p were then com- pared with those obtained from a steady simulation regard- ing the diffuser alone, i.e. without the impeller. This

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/ Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440 Fig. 11. Comparison between steady and unsteady

Fig. 11. Comparison between steady and unsteady performance coeffi- cients of the diffuser apparatus.

simulation was carried out using the same solver, settings and grid: the values of the relevant quantities of the unsteady solution, averaged with respect to time and mass flow rate, were assigned as boundary condition at diffuser inlet. In this way the dynamic effect of the impeller was neglected. In particular, time- and circumferentially-mass- averaged values of the total pressure and total temperature were applied at diffuser inlet; time- and mass-averaged value for the static pressure was instead fixed at diffuser outlet. The results of the steady calculation are given in Fig. 11 and compared with those of the unsteady computation. The differences are virtually negligible: 1.9% in x, 0.6% in C p . These results apparently demonstrate that, from the point of view of diffuser performance, the presence of the impeller can be reproduced by assigning averaged and steady boundary conditions at impeller outlet.

4. Optimization of diffuser performance

4.1. Objectives and approach

In this section, a numerical multi-objective optimization of the radial and deswirl cascades of the centrifugal com- pressor is accomplished through an iterative procedure based on the combination between a Multi-Objective Evo- lutionary Algorithm (MOEA) and a CFD model of the dif- fuser. The aim is to develop a set of diffuser designs achieving maximum pressure rise (maximum C p ) and min- imum total pressure loss (maximum 1 x) at the design condition (see previous section). These designs have also to fit into the radial and axial sizes of the original one, per- haps adjusting the radius between the radial and the des- wirl sections. The optimization problem is to maximize the two-objective function:

ð3 Þ

F ð xÞ¼ð f 1 ; f 2 Þ¼ðC p ; 1 xÞ

where x is the vector of design optimization parameters, that is the decision variables of the problem. The chosen objectives cannot be satisfied simultaneously by a single design, since maximum pressure rise is achieved through high aerodynamic loading on blade profiles, resulting in higher total pressure losses, whereas minimum total pressure loss is obtained using low solidity cascades to minimize friction losses, without altering too much flow tangential direction. Thus, Pareto optimality is used to rank the solutions examined during the optimization pro- cess and to obtain the true trade-off solutions between the two objectives (Pareto front). A special evaluation method is applied in order to improve the search capabili- ties of the MOEA and to spread the optimal solutions as uniformly as possible along the Pareto front [30] .

4.2. Definition of design parameters

Since the optimal designs have to fit into the overall size of the original one in the meridional plane, the following dimensions are chosen as optimization parameters (see Fig. 12 ): the radius R hub of the arc linking the radial and the deswirl sections of the diffuser in a meridional plane; the radial coordinate R le,rad of the radial profile leading edge; the radial clearance g te,rad between the radial profile trailing edge and the radius linking the two sections; the angle h rad between the radial profile leading and trailing edges, with respect to the tangential direction; the axial clearance g le,ax between the deswirl profile leading edge and the radius linking the two sections; the angle h ax between the deswirl profile leading and trailing edges, with respect to the tangential direction; the tangential clocking h clocking between the leading edges of the radial and the deswirl profiles. The number of blades of both radial and deswirl sec- tions (12 and 36, respectively) is the one used in the previ- ous section. The shape of blade profiles is described using two Bezier parametric curves (one for the pressure side and one for the suction side). The non-dimensional Carte- sian coordinates of each curve x , y ps and x , y ss are defined by n + 1 control points constituting the Bezier polygon according to the following expression:

n

f x ðt Þ ; y ps ð t Þ; y ss ð t Þg ¼ X c n; i t i ð 1 t Þ n i f x i ; y ps; i ; y ss ; i g

i ¼ 0

ð 4 Þ

where t 2 [0, 1] is the non-dimensional parameter and c n , i = n !/( i !( n i )!). The n + 1 control points coordinates x i , y ps, i , y ss, i are defined as follows:

x i ¼ 0 ; 0 ; x 2 ;

; x n 2 ; 1 ; 1

y ps ; i ¼ 0 ; d le ;

y ss ; i ¼ 0 ; þd le ;

where d le and d te fix the thickness of the leading and trailing edges, respectively, and y cl, i and d i are the actual optimiza- tion parameters for blade shape geometry. This parameter- ization is inspired by the well-known practice of

; y cl ; i d i ;

; y cl ; i þ d i ;

; d te ; 0

; þ d te ; 0

ð

5 Þ

E. Benini et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440

437

Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440 437 Fig. 12. Definition of optimization parameters.

Fig. 12. Definition of optimization parameters.

superimposing a thickness distribution to a chamber line and avoids the generation of intersecting pressure and suction side curves. The geometry of the diffuser radial and deswirl blades is described here using seven and six

control points, respectively (6 and 4 decision variables). The total number of optimization parameters is therefore

17.

According to the geometrical constraints, the ranges of variation chosen for most optimization variables are nar- row and centered around the corresponding values of the original design. The main exception to this criterion is rep- resented by the value of h rad , which is varied in a range that does not include the original value. The shape of the des- wirl profile is also allowed to vary more freely than that of the radial profile. The ranges of variation for all the opti- mization variables are summarized in Table 2 .

Table 2 Ranges of optimization parameters

Variable

Unit

Original

Min

Max

R

hub

mm

9.5

8

12

R

le,rad

mm

84

82

86

g

te,rad

mm

3.5

2

6

h

rad

40

25

35

y

1,rad

0.02

0.015

0.025

y

2,rad

0.055

0.05

0.06

y

3,rad

0.06

0.04

0.08

d

1,rad

0.03

0.025

0.035

d

2,rad

0.065

0.055

0.075

d

3,rad

0.055

0.035

0.075

g

le,ax

mm

2.5

1

3

h

ax

5

28

y

1,ax

0.12

0

0.2

y

2,ax

0.12

0

0.2

d

1,ax

0.055

0.02

0.1

d

2,ax

0.055

0.02

0.1

h

clocking

6.1

0

10

4.3. Results and discussion

The optimization algorithm was run for 40 generations with a population size of 50 individuals. The most impor- tant design parameters and the corresponding objective function values for the last generation of solution are pre- sented in Fig. 13 . Note that performance indexes of the ori- ginal design are too low ( C p = 0.45 and 1 x = 0.5) to appear in the Figure. It is apparent that all the individuals fall in a narrow strip of the plane defined by the two objec- tive functions C p and 1 x . As a matter of fact, the con- flict between the objectives seems of little account, but this is simply because of the tight ranges of variation assigned to the optimization variables. The Pareto front is made of only two individuals, one of them maximizing pressure recovery (marked in red) and the other minimizing total pressure losses (marked in blue). These optimal solu- tions are compared to the original design in Fig. 13 .

4.3.1. The radial profile The shape of the optimal radial profiles is very similar to the original one because of the limits imposed on the vari- ation of its Bezier control points. On the other hand, the stagger angle, which is varied in a wider range, seems to be the most significant design parameter. The optimized solutions have a much lower value of h rad than the original design (40 ). This results in higher pressure recovery, because of reduced tangential velocity components, as well as in lower total pressure losses because of better incidence angles and less friction on shorter profiles. h rad being approximately the same, the actual conflict between the two objectives owing to two opposite trends toward shorter profiles to minimize losses and toward longer profiles to maximize pressure rise. The radial coordinate of the leading edge R le,rad tends toward its maximum value to shorten the profile and to allow an initial pressure recovery without blade friction, that is with lower total pressure losses. This fact agrees with

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E. Benini et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440

/ Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440 Fig. 13. Results of optimization. the experimental

Fig. 13. Results of optimization.

the experimental results published in the literature about high-speed compressors (see, among others [31] ). In fact, as the absolute Mach number of the flow leaving the impel- ler is quite high, a longer vaneless gap is needed to reduce the Mach number level, and therefore losses, before enter- ing the vanes. The optimized profiles are also less thick than the original ones, resulting in a higher pressure rise. Even though flow separation near the trailing edge is more likely for thinner profiles, it does not happen in this case due to the small ranges of variation imposed on the shape of the profile.

4.3.2. The meridional channel

The radius R hub linking the radial and the axial section of the meridional channel tends to its maximum value for both the optimal designs. This is reasonable, since the loss related to secondary flows in the bend and downstream of it is reduced. The enlargement of the gap between the radial coordinate of the trailing edge and the beginning of the curvature may also be responsible for this reduction.

4.3.3. The deswirl profile

The orientation of the deswirl profile in the optimized designs cannot be analyzed separately from the flow devia- tion imposed by the radial cascade of the diffuser. Since h rad is lower than in the original design, the tangential velocity of the flow entering the deswirl cascade is lower because of the conservation of the tangential momentum. On the other hand, the meridional velocity is also lower because of the conservation of meridional momentum, since R hub is larger in the optimized designs. The latter effect prevails over the former, and the result is a stagger

angle, measured by h ax , that is higher than in the original design. Even though the vanishing of the tangential compo- nent through the deswirl cascade would result in the max- imum pressure recovery, the exit angle of the optimized designs is far from the value that would fulfill this condi- tion. Perhaps the chord of the profile is too short to accom- plish the ideal deviation at the expense of a negligible increase in total pressure losses. Finally, the optimized clocking h clocking is achieved when the wake of the radial profile wraps one of the deswirl profiles.

5. Practical significance/usefulness

The methodology described in the first part of the paper significantly reduces the computational effort required to perform CFD analyses on rotating machinery featuring high-speed flows, compressibility issues, rotor/stator inter- action and problems related to the definition of proper boundary conditions. This can be achieved without compro- mises on the accuracy of the numerical results, as certified by the validation presented. The ultimate goal is to use such approaches to tackle complex optimization problems using advanced mathematical techniques. From this point of view, evolutionary algorithms show very attractive potentials in the exploration of wide search spaces with many decision variables and complex and conflicting objective functions.

6. Conclusions

In this paper, experimental and numerical analyses were used to achieve performance enhancements of a micro- turbine diffuser.

E. Benini et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 30 (2006) 427–440

439

First of all, a methodology for testing the centrifugal compressor was presented. A test rig was set up and equipped with pressure and temperature probes at impeller inlet and outlet and at diffuser exit. The tests were carried out according to both ASME and UNI-ISO standards. A numerical model based on 3D CFD was also carried out and validated against the experimental data. The numerical results regarding the pressure ratio at the nominal speed agree with the experimental data; those concerning the isentropic efficiency show poorer agreement (computed effi- ciency is higher). At reduced speeds, the numerical model overestimates the pressure ratio to some extent, whereas calculated efficiency is much closer to the measured one; at the same time, the mass flow rate at choking is a little lower than the one observed experimentally. These facts may be explained by the absence of the tip clearance in the numerical model of the impeller (see also the discussion in Section 2.3 ). The diffuser maps showed that the pressure recovery and aerodynamic losses are apparent functions of the mass flow rate for a given compressor rotational speed. The absence of measurement probes in the space between the radial and deswirl blade rows did not make it possible to describe the behavior of each cascade, even though it is known that the actual pressure recovery in the last row is not likely to be high; its function is mainly to remove swirl before the flow enters the combustor. However, the effect of the axial deswirl diffuser should be investigated further in order to establish its influence on compressor efficiency and stability. The numerical results showed that the steady approach is sufficiently accurate to predict the characteris- tics of the diffuser, at least for the nominal rotational speed. At reduced speeds, in particular at part loads and near compressor stall, somewhat poor agreement with the experimental data suggests that diffuser performance could be significantly influenced by the jet-wake and recirculation flow structures which the CFD model, being based on a mixing plane approach, obviously was not able to capture. In the second part of the paper, two approaches for the analysis of impeller–diffuser interaction in the centrifugal compressor stage were examined. The first approach was based on the fully-coupled unsteady solution of the flow field; the latter assumed time- and space-averaged bound- ary conditions at the interface between the impeller and dif- fuser with which a steady and decoupled solution was obtained. The unsteady simulation made it possible to ana- lyze and understand the details of the main sources of flow field fluctuations. The amplitudes of these fluctuations are remarkable only in the semi-vaneless gap, whereas the dif- fuser blade channel is not substantially involved in these phenomena. This fact is confirmed by the agreement with the results of the steady simulation, performance indexes being virtually identical. The results of both approaches highlight that some of the geometrical characteristics of the diffuser are not properly matched to the flow leaving the impeller, leading to a poor overall diffuser performance. In the third part of the paper, the diffuser design was optimized focusing the attention on the cascade parame-

ters, and leaving the size of the meridional channel unchanged. The aim was to obtain the maximum pressure rise at the minimum total pressure loss. The conflict between the two objective is minimal, owing to the tight constraints imposed to the chosen design variables. The most significant differences from the original design are the lower stagger angle of the radial profile, leading to higher pressure rises, and the lower chamber of the deswirl profile, which actually hardly deflects the flow resulting in lower total pressure losses. The optimization of diffuser performance focusing on the design point only is meaning- ful, since the operating range of this microturbine centrifu- gal compressor is very narrow. In off-design conditions, in fact, choking or stall occur before performance drops due to unsatisfactory design solutions.

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