Turbopump inducers often have swirling backflow under a wide range of flow rates because they are designed with a certain angle of attack even at the design point in order to attain high cavitation performance. When the flow rate is decreased, the backflow region extends upstream and may cause various problems by interacting with upstream elements. It is also known that the backflow vortex structure occurs in the shear layer between the main flow and the swirling backflow. Experimental studies on the backflow from an inducer have given us insight into the characteristics of backflow vortex structure, but the limited information has not lead to the complete understanding of the phenomena. Numerical studies based on Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) computations usually deteriorate when the flow field of interest involves large-scale separations, as shown by a previous study by Tsujimoto et al. (2005). On the other hand, the numerical approach using the Large Eddy Simulation (LES) technique has the potential to predict unsteady flows and/or flow fields that include regions of large-scale separation much more accurately than RANS computations does in general. The present paper describes the application of the LES code developed by one of the authors (Kato) to further understand the backflow vortex structure at the inlet of an inducer. First, the internal flow of the inducer was simulated, as a way to evaluate the validity of the proposed method, under a wide range of inlet flow coefficients. The static pressure peformance and the length of the backflow region was compared with measured values, and good agreement was obtained. Second, using the validated LES code, the fundamental characteristics of the backflow vortex was investigated in detail. It was found that the backflow vortices are formed in a circumferentially twisted manner at the boundary between the swirling backflow and the straight inlet flow. Also, the backflow vortices rotate in the same direction as the inducer, but with half of the circumferential flow velocity in the backflow region. Another finding was that the backflow region expands toward the center of the flow field and the number of vortices decrease, as the flow coefficient decreases. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first computation of the backflow at the inducer inlet to achieve quantitative agreement with measured results, and give new findings to the complicated three-dimensional structure of the backflow, which was very limited under experimental studies.
LES Simulation of Backflow Vortex Structure at the Inlet of an Inducer
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Yamanishi, N., Fukao, S., Qiao, X., Kato, C., and Tsujimoto, Y. (September 28, 2006). "LES Simulation of Backflow Vortex Structure at the Inlet of an Inducer." ASME. J. Fluids Eng. May 2007; 129(5): 587–594. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2717613
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