Full Scale Experimental Transonic Fan Interaction with a Boundary Layer Ingesting Total Pressure Distortion

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Virginia Tech

Future commercial transport aircraft will feature more aerodynamic architectures to accommodate stringent design goals for higher fuel efficiency, reduced cruise and taxi NOx emissions, and reduced noise. Airframe designs most likely to satisfy the first goal feature architectures that lead to the formation of non-uniform flow introduced to the engine through boundary layer ingesting (BLI) inlets, creating a different operational environment from which the engines were originally designed. The goal of this study was to explore the effects such non-uniform flow would have on the behavior and performance of a transonic fan in a full scale engine test environment.

This dissertation presents an experimental study of the interaction between a full scale transonic fan and a total pressure distortion representative of a boundary layer ingesting serpentine inlet. A five-hole pneumatic probe was traversed directly in front of and behind a fan rotor to fully characterize the inlet and outlet fan profile. The distortion profile was also measured at the aerodynamic interface plane (AIP) with an SAE standard total pressure rake, which has historically been accepted as the inlet profile to the fan. This provided a comparison between the present work and current practice.

Accurate calculation of local fan performance metrics such as blade loading, pressure rise, and efficiency were obtained. The fan inlet measurement profile greatly enhanced the understanding of the fan interaction to the flow distortion and provided a more complete explanation of the fan behavior. Secondary flowfield formation due to the accelerated flow redistribution directly upstream of the fan created localized bulk co- and counter- rotating swirl regions that were found to be correlated with localized fan performance phenomena. It was observed that the effects of the distortion on fan performance were exaggerated if the assumed fan inlet profiles were data taken only at the AIP.

The reduction in fan performance with respect to undistorted inlet conditions is also explored, providing insight into how such distortions can be compared to baseline conditions. The dissertation closes with several recommendations for improving distortion tolerant fan design in the context of experimental research and development.

Experimental Engine Testing, Distortion, Interaction, Total Pressure, Boundary Layer Ingesting