Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulations of Hydraulic Energy Absorber

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Virginia Tech


Hydraulic energy absorbers may be described as high-loss centrifugal turbomachines arranged to operate as stalled torque converters. The device absorbs the kinetic energy of a vehicle in motion and dissipates the energy into water. A steady, single-phase, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation has been performed to investigate the flow field in a hydraulic energy absorber. It was determined that to better predict the performance of the energy absorber, more sophisticated modeling approaches may be needed.

In this research, a steady, two-phase calculation with basic turbulence modeling was used as a first assessment. The two-phase model was used to investigate cavitation effects. Unsteady and advanced turbulence modeling techniques were then incorporated into single-phase calculations. The Multiple Reference Frame (MRF) Technique was used to model the interaction between the rotor and the stator. The calculations provided clearer details of the flow field without dramatically increasing the computational cost.

It was found that unsteady modeling was necessary to correctly capture the close coupling between the rotor and the stator. The predicted torque in the unsteady calculations was 70% of the experimental value and twice of the result in the steady-state calculations. It was found that the inaccuracy of torque prediction was due to (1) high pressures in the regions with complicated geometrical boundaries and, (2) dynamic interactions between the rotor and the stator were not captured fully. It was also determined that the unrealistically low pressure values were not caused by the physical cavitation, but by the lack of proper boundary conditions for the model. Further integration of the modeling techniques studied would improve the CFD results for use in the design of the energy absorber.



Energy Absorber, Computational fluid dynamics, Hydraulic, Computational fluid dynamics