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The Use of 3D CFD Analysis in the Design of Air Intake Systems as a Visualisation Tool to Optimise Performance in Gas Turbine Applications

[+] Author Affiliations
Stephen D. Hiner

Altair Filter Technology, Ltd., Alton, Hampshire, England

Paper No. GT2005-68758, pp. 349-359; 11 pages
  • ASME Turbo Expo 2005: Power for Land, Sea, and Air
  • Volume 4: Turbo Expo 2005
  • Reno, Nevada, USA, June 6–9, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: International Gas Turbine Institute
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4727-6 | eISBN: 0-7918-3754-8
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


An optimised inlet air system design is an important factor in the gas turbine (GT) industry. Optimising the design of the air intake system is an increasingly challenging process as both the layout complexity and range of features that can be included in the intake system expands. These may include a combination of insect or trash screens, weather protection and filtration systems, silencers, anti-icing systems, ventilation system off takes and inlet heating or cooling systems for power augmentation. Poor designs can result in inefficient use of these components as well as losses in engine performance due to excessive pressure losses or distortion in the flow entering the gas turbine. High flow distortion, velocity, pressure or temperature, can induce compressor surge and high acromechanical stresses in compressor blades and vanes. In extreme cases this may result in blade or vane failures. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis is a powerful tool for visualisation of the predicted flow through a hypothetical air inlet system prior to manufacture. The CFD output plots include flow streamlines and contours, of pressure, velocity or temperature, at any plane in the model. These enable pressure losses, flow distortion issues, potential recirculation areas and high local velocities within the system to be reviewed. This allows optimisation of the installation design to minimise system pressure loss and flow distortion, both through the components and at the engine interface. This paper, with reference to case studies of gas turbine applications, highlights the impact that CFD analysis can have on the design of intake systems to ensure that the best overall performance is obtained. The process of developing the CFD geometry and how significant features of an installation are modeled is outlined. Environmental and operational conditions, such as cross winds can impact the flow through an intake system; therefore, incorporation of such factors into the model boundary conditions are covered. Typical output metrics from the CFD analysis are shown from selected case studies; total pressure drop and flow distortion at the interface plane between the intake system and gas turbine. The importance of experienced interpretation of the CFD output to define potential intake design modifications to improve system performance is highlighted. In specific cases model testing has been carried out to validate CFD results. Case study examples are used to show the improvements made in air intake performance that contribute to increased operational efficiency of the gas turbine application.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME



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