Numerical Investigation of Subsonic Axial-Flow Tandem Airfoils for a Core Compressor Rotor

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Virginia Tech

The tandem airfoil has potential to do more work as a compressor blade than a single airfoil without incurring significantly higher losses. Although tandem blades are sometimes employed as stators, they have not been used in any known commercial rotors. The goal of this work is to evaluate the aerodynamic feasibility of using a tandem rotor in the rear stages of a core compressor. As such, the results are constrained to shock-free, fully turbulent flow. The work is divided into 2-D and 3-D simulations. The 3-D results are subject to an additional constraint: thick endwall boundary layers at the inlet.

Existing literature data on tandem airfoils in 2-D rectilinear cascades have been compiled and presented in a Lieblein loss versus loading correlation. Large scatter in the data gave motivation to conduct an extensive 2-D CFD study evaluating the overall performance as a function of the relative positions of the forward and aft airfoils. CFD results were consistent with trends in the open literature, both of which indicate that a properly designed tandem airfoil can outperform a comparable single airfoil on- and off-design. The general agreement of the CFD and literature data serves as a validation for the computational approach.

A high hub-to-tip ratio 3-D blade geometry was developed based upon the best-case tandem airfoil configuration from the 2-D study. The 3-D tandem rotor was simulated in isolation in order to scrutinize the fluid mechanisms of the rotor, which had not previously been well documented. A geometrically similar single blade rotor was also simulated under the same conditions for a baseline comparison. The tandem rotor was found to outperform its single blade counterpart by attaining a higher work coefficient, polytropic efficiency and numerical stall margin. An examination of the tandem rotor fluid mechanics revealed that the forward blade acts in a similar manner to a conventional rotor. The aft blade is strongly dependent upon the flow it receives from the forward blade, and tends to be more three-dimensional and non-uniform than the forward blade.

gas turbine, compressor, tandem airfoil, cascade, high-loading, tandem blade, rotor, computational