New Methodology for the Estimation  of StreamVane Design Flow Profiles

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Virginia Tech

Inlet distortion research has become increasingly important over the past several years as demands for aircraft flight efficiency and performance has increased. To accommodate these demands, research progression has shifted the emphasis onto airframe-engine integration and improved understanding of engine operability in less than ideal conditions. Swirl distortion, which is considered a type of non-uniform inflow inlet distortion, is characterized by the presence of swirling flow in an inlet. The presence of swirling flow entering an engine can affect the compression systems performance and operability, therefore it is an area of current research.

A swirl distortion generation device created by Virginia Tech, identified as the StreamVane, has the ability to produce various swirl distortion flow profiles. In its current state, the StreamVane methodology generates a design swirl distortion at the trailing edge of the device. However, in many applications the plane at which the researcher wants a desired distortion is downstream of the StreamVane trailing edge. After the distortion is discharged from the StreamVane it develops as it moves downstream. Therefore, to more accurately replicate a desired swirl distortion at a given downstream plane, distortion development downstream of the StreamVane must be considered.

Currently Virginia Tech utilizes a numerical modeling design tool, designated StreamFlow, that generates predictions of how a StreamVane-generated distortion propagates downstream. However, due to the non-linear physics of the flow problem, StreamFlow cannot directly calculate an accurate inverse solution that can predict upstream conditions from a downstream boundary, as needed to design a StreamVane. To solve this problem, in this research, an efficient estimation process has been created, combining the use of the StreamFlow model with a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) parameter estimation tool to estimate upstream flow profiles that will produce the desired downstream profiles. The process is designated the StreamFlow-MC2 Estimation Process.

The process was tested on four fundamental types of swirl distortions. The desired downstream distortion was input into the estimation process to predict an upstream profile that would create the desired downstream distortion. Using the estimated design profiles, 6-inch diameter StreamVanes were designed then wind tunnel tested to verify the distortion downstream. Analysis and experimental results show that using this method, the upstream distortion needed to create the desired distortion was estimated with excellent accuracy. Based on those results, the StreamFlow-MC2 Estimation Process was validated.

Inlet Distortion, Swirl, Parameter Estimation