Optimization Study of Guide Vanes for the Intake Fan-Duct Connection Using CFD
The connection between an intake fan and a ventilation shaft must be designed in such a way that it minimizes the energy waste due to singularity losses. As a result, the questions of which radius of curvature to use and if guide vanes have to be included need to be answered. In that case, the variables such as the number, upstream and downstream penetration length, radius of curvature, and width of the vanes, need to be defined. Although this work is oriented to mine ventilation, these questions are usually valid in other engineering applications as well. The objective of this study is to define the previously mentioned variables to determine the optimal design combination for the radius/diameter relationship (r/D). Computational fluid dynamics was used to determine the shock loss factor of seven elbow curvature ratios for a 3 m diameter duct and fan, with and without guide vanes to estimate the best performing configuration and, therefore, to maximize the fan airflow volume. The methodology used consisted of initially developing models in 2D geometries, to optimize the meshing and the CPU use, and studying separately the number of vanes, upstream and downstream penetration, radius of curvature, and width of the vanes for each curvature ratio (r/D). Then, the best-performing variable combinations for each curvature ratio were selected to be simulated and studied with the 3D geometries. The application of the guide vane designs for three-dimensional simulated geometries is presented, first without and then with guide vanes, including the shock loss factors obtained. The methodology and obtained results allowed quantifying the energy savings and to reduce the CFD simulations steps required to optimize the design of the elbow and guide vanes. The results obtained cannot be used with elbows in exhaust fans, because fluid dynamics phenomena are different.
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