Towards Predictive Eddy Resolving Simulations for Gas Turbine Compressors

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Scillitoe, Ashley Duncan  ORCID logo

This thesis aims to explore the potential for using large eddy simulation (LES) as a predictive tool for gas-turbine compressor flows. Compressors present a significant challenge for the Reynolds Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) based CFD methods commonly used in industry. RANS models require extensive calibration to experimental data, and thus cannot be used predictively. This thesis explores how LES can offer a more predictive alternative, by exploring the sensitivity of LES to sources of uncertainty. Specifically, the importance of the numerical scheme, the Sub-Grid Scale (SGS) model, and the correct specification of inflow turbulence is examined.

The sensitivity of LES to the numerical scheme is explored using the Taylor-Green vortex test case. The numerical smoothing, controlled by a user defined smoothing constant, is found to be important. To avoid tuning the numerical scheme, a locally adaptive smoothing (LAS) scheme is implemented. But, this is found to perform poorly in a forced isotropic turbulence test case, due to the intermittency of the dispersive error. A novel scheme, the LAS with windowing (LASW) scheme, is thus introduced. The LASW scheme is shown to be more suitable for predictive LES, as it does not require tuning to a known solution.

The LASW scheme is used to perform LES on a compressor cascade, and results are found to be in close agreement with direct numerical simulations. Complex transition mechanisms, combining characteristics of both natural and bypass modes, are observed on the pressure surface. These mechanisms are found to be sensitive to numerical smoothing, emphasising the importance of the LASW scheme, which returns only the minimum smoothing required to prevent dispersion. On the suction surface, separation induced transition occurs. The flow here is seen to be relatively insensitive to numerical smoothing and the choice of SGS model, as long as the Smagorinsky-Lilly SGS model is not used. These findings are encouraging, as they show that, with the LASW scheme and a suitable SGS model, LES can be used predictively in compressor flows. In order to be predictive, the accurate specification of inflow conditions was shown to be just as important as the numerics.

RANS models are shown to over-predict the extent of the three dimensional separation in the endwall - suction surface corner. LES is used to examine the challenges for RANS in this region. The LES shows that it is important to accurately capture the suction surface transition location, with early transition leading to a larger endwall separation. Large scale aperiodic unsteadiness is also observed in the endwall region. Additionally, turbulent anisotropy in the endwall - suction surface corner is found to be important. Adding a non-linear term to the RANS model leads to turbulent stresses that are in better agreement with the LES. This results in a stronger corner vortex which is thought to delay the corner separation. The addition of a corner fillet reduces the importance of anisotropy, thereby reducing the uncertainty in the RANS prediction.

Tucker, Paul
Computational Fluid Dynamics, Turbo-machinery, Eddy Resolving, Large Eddy Simulation, Turbulence, Turbulence Modelling, Unsteady Aerodynamics, Compressor, Endwall Separation, Transition
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge
This work was supported by the EPSRC through an iCASE award sponsored by Rolls-Royce plc. Rolls-Royce plc are gratefully acknowledged for allowing the use and modification of their CFD solver HYDRA. The work used the ARCHER UK National Supercomputing Service ( under EPSRC grant EP/L000261/1, and thanks go to both for their support.