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CFD Simulation of an Aeroengine Bearing Chamber Using an Enhanced Volume of Fluid (VOF) Method: An Evaluation Using Adaptive Meshing

[+] Author Affiliations
Alexandre Crouchez-Pillot, Hervé P. Morvan

University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Paper No. GT2014-26405, pp. V05CT16A033; 9 pages
  • ASME Turbo Expo 2014: Turbine Technical Conference and Exposition
  • Volume 5C: Heat Transfer
  • Düsseldorf, Germany, June 16–20, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: International Gas Turbine Institute
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4573-8
  • Copyright © 2014 by Rolls-Royce plc


In aero engines, the rotating shafts are supported by a set of bearings, which are enclosed in bearing chambers. Cooling and lubrication oil escapes from the bearings and these chambers are designed to capture and recycle it. A good understanding of the oil behaviour inside bearing chambers is therefore desirable in order to limit the oil volume involved and minimize transmission losses whilst managing the engine core heat in the best possible manner.

This study is focused on the simulation of the oil behaviour inside such a chamber and special attention is given to the so-called KIT bearing chamber. The oil phase in the chamber can take different forms e.g. sprays, droplets, thin films or a combination of those. Assuming the oil we want to track remains dominantly as a film and large droplets/filaments, the Volume of Fluid (VOF) method is used in order to track the oil and the oil/air interface in the chamber, hereby investigating the feasibility and merits of such an approach and extending the earlier work carried out by the authors and colleagues. An Enhanced VOF approach coupled with level-set is used here unless stated otherwise. The simulated pump outlet condition, proposed by the University of Nottingham, is also employed in this study, to replicate an engine displacement pump.

Since the use of VOF requires a refined mesh in the oil region, an adaptive mesh approach based on the volume of fluid gradient is developed and validated to control the total cell count for some of the cases reported here and limit simulation costs. The Adaptive Mesh Approach (AMA) can allow a better resolution of critical interfaces, better compute the oil break-up (within the limitation of the physical models used) and then track the droplets and filaments. Therefore, not only the CPU time cost might be reduced compared to a fixed mesh approach but significant physical aspects of the problem should be better accounted for. In order to inform the set up and parameters used with this method, and appraise its value for the proposed application, the experimental study of Fabre is used before the approach is applied to the KIT chamber.

Good insight is obtained in terms of run time acceleration for such problem when combining the proposed VOF setup with adaptive meshing. Key set up parameters are quantified. The simulations carried out with the proposed set up are proving to be fairly robust and stable. Qualitative (physical) evidence is also encouraging and confirms the value of such an approach to the study of aeroengine bearing chambers.

Copyright © 2014 by Rolls-Royce plc



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