A computational study of the 3D flow and performance of a vaned radial diffuser

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Virginia Tech

A computational study was performed on a vaned radial diffuser using the MEFP (The Moore Elliptic Flow Program) flow code. The vaned diffuser studied by Dalbert et al. was chosen as a test case for this thesis. The geometry and inlet conditions were established from this study. The performance of the computational diffuser was compared to the test case diffuser. The CFD analysis was able to demonstrate the 3D flow within the diffuser.

An inlet conditions analysis was performed to establish the boundary conditions at the diffuser inlet. The given inlet flow angles were reduced in order to match the specified mass flow rate. The inlet static pressure was held constant over the height of the diffuser.

The diffuser was broken down into its subcomponents to study the effects of each component on the overall performance of the diffuser. The diffuser inlet region, which comprises the vaneless and semi-vaneless spaces, contains the greatest losses, 56%, but the highest static pressure rise, 54%. The performance at the throat was also evaluated and the blockage and pressure recovery were calculated.

The results show the static pressure comparison for the computational study and the test case. The overall pressure rise of the computational study was in good agreement with the measured pressure rise. The static pressure and total pressure loss distributions in the inlet region, at the throat, and in the exit region of the diffuser were also analyzed. The flow development was presented for the entire diffuser. The 3D flow calculations were able to illustrate a leading edge recirculation at the hub, caused by an inlet skew and high losses at the hub, and the secondary flows in the diffuser convected the high losses.

The study presented in this thesis demonstrated the flow development in a vaned diffuser and its subcomponents. The performance was evaluated by calculating the static pressure rise, total pressure losses, and throat blockage. It also demonstrated current CFD capabilities for diffusers using steady 3D flow analysis.

vaned, Computational fluid dynamics, diffuser