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CFD Analysis and Full Scale Testing of a Complex Auxiliary Power Unit Intake System

[+] Author Affiliations
Bruce Bouldin, Kiran Vunnam

Honeywell Aerospace, Phoenix, AZ

Jose-Angel Hernanz-Manrique, Laura Ambit-Marin

Airbus Industries, Getafe, Spain

Paper No. GT2011-46748, pp. 465-476; 12 pages
  • ASME 2011 Turbo Expo: Turbine Technical Conference and Exposition
  • Volume 1: Aircraft Engine; Ceramics; Coal, Biomass and Alternative Fuels; Wind Turbine Technology
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, June 6–10, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: International Gas Turbine Institute
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5461-7
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Auxiliary Power Units (APU’s) are gas turbine engines which are located in the tail of most commercial and business aircraft. They are designed to provide electrical and pneumatic power to the aircraft on the ground while the main propulsion engines are turned off. They can also be operated in flight, when there is a desire to reduce the load on the propulsion engines, such as during an engine-out situation. Given an APU’s typical position in the back of an airplane, the intake systems for APU’s can be very complex. They are designed to provide sufficient airflow to both the APU and the cooling system while minimizing the pressure losses and the flow distortion. These systems must perform efficiently during static operation on the ground and during flight at very high altitudes and flight speeds. An APU intake system has been designed for a new commercial aircraft. This intake system was designed using the latest Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques. Several iterations were performed between the APU supplier and the aircraft manufacturer since each of their components affects the performance of the other. For example, the aircraft boundary layer impacts APU intake performance and an open APU flap impacts aircraft drag. To validate the effectiveness of the CFD analysis, a full scale intake rig was designed and built to simulate the tailcone of the aircraft on the ground. This rig was very large and very detailed. It included a portion of the tailcone and rudder, plus the entire APU and cooling intake systems. The hardware was manufactured out of fiberglass shells, stereolithogrophy components and machined plastic parts. Three different airflows for the load compressor, engine compressor and cooling system had to be measured and throttled. Fixed instrumentation rakes were located to measure intake induced pressure losses and distortion at the APU plenum and cooling ducts. Rotating pressure and swirl survey rakes were located at the load compressor and engine compressor eyes to measure plenum pressure losses and distortion. Static pressure taps measured the flow pattern along the intake and flap surfaces. The intake rig was designed to be flexible so that the impact of rudder position, intake flap position, APU plenum baffle position and compressor airflow levels could be evaluated. This paper describes in detail the different components of the intake rig and discusses the complexity of conducting a rig test on such a large scale. It also presents the impact of the different component positions on intake performance. These results were compared to CFD predicted values and were used to calibrate our CFD techniques. The effectiveness of using CFD for APU intake design and its limitations are also discussed.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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