Research Papers: Gas Turbines: Turbomachinery

A Shape Memory Alloy-Based Morphing Axial Fan Blade—Part II: Blade Shape and Computational Fluid Dynamics Analyses

[+] Author and Article Information
Alessio Suman, Nicola Aldi, Michele Pinelli

Fluid Machinery Research Group,
Engineering Department in Ferrara (ENDIF),
University of Ferrara,
Ferrara 44122, Italy

Annalisa Fortini, Mattia Merlin

Metallurgy Research Group,
Engineering Department in Ferrara (ENDIF),
University of Ferrara,
Ferrara 44122, Italy

1corresponding author.

Contributed by the Turbomachinery Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENGINEERING FOR GAS TURBINES AND POWER. Manuscript received September 3, 2015; final manuscript received September 16, 2015; published online November 17, 2015. Editor: David Wisler.

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power 138(6), 062604 (Nov 17, 2015) (9 pages) Paper No: GTP-15-1438; doi: 10.1115/1.4031760 History: Received September 03, 2015; Revised September 16, 2015

The ability of a morphing blade to change its geometry according to the different operating conditions represents a challenging approach for the optimization of turbomachinery performance. In this paper, experimental and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) numerical analyses on a morphing blade for a heavy-duty automotive cooling axial fan are proposed. Starting from the experimental results proposed in the first part of this work, a morphing blade, made of shape memory alloy (SMA) strips embedded in a polymeric structure, was thoroughly tested. In order to assess the ability of the strips to reach a progressive and smooth shape changing evolution, several experiments were performed in a purpose-built wind tunnel. The morphing blade changed its shape as the strips were thermally activated by means of air stream flow. The bending deformation evolution with the increasing number of thermal cycles was evaluated by digital image analysis techniques. After the analyses in the wind tunnel, CFD numerical simulations of a partially shrouded fan composed of five morphing blades were performed in order to highlight the evolution of the fan performance according to air temperature conditions. In particular, the capability of the blade activation was evaluated by the comparison between the fan performance with nonactivated blades and with activated blades. The results show a progressive stabilization of the shape memory behavior after the first cycle. The blade deformation led to a significant improvement in the fan performance at a constant rotational velocity. The CFD numerical simulation points out the differences in the overall performance and of three-dimensional fluid dynamic behavior of the fan. This innovative concept is aimed at realizing a sensorless smart fan control, permitting (i) an energy saving that leads to fuel saving in the automotive application fields and (ii) an increase in engine life, thanks to a strong relationship between the engine thermal request and the cooling fan performance.

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Fig. 1

SBTF functional scheme and its thermal performance

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Fig. 2

Blade structure stabilization: airfoil camber variation

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Fig. 3

Evolution of airfoil mean lines at the blade tip

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Fig. 4

Blades comparison: Kinect surface versus CAD geometry

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Fig. 5

Digital captions (suction side view), Kinect surfaces and reconstructed blades

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Fig. 6

Suction side deviations at 20%, 50%, 70%, and 90% of the blade span

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Fig. 7

Numerical domain: (a) dimension and domain subdivisions and (b) computational mesh around the blade

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Fig. 8

Fan performance, n = 3000 rpm

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Fig. 9

Fan performance, n = 1000 rpm

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Fig. 10

Blade loading and blade-to-blade velocity field for 25%, 50%, and 75% of the blade span

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Fig. 11

Fan performance, n = 3000 rpm for nonactivated, activated at 60 °C, and activated at 90 °C blades

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Fig. 12

Fan performance, n = 2000 rpm for nonactivated, activated at 60 °C, and activated at 90 °C blades

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Fig. 13

Fan performance, n = 1000 rpm for nonactivated, activated at 60 °C, and activated at 90 °C blades



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