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AIAA 2007-23

45th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit

8 - 11 January 2007, Reno, Nevada

Design Refinement and Performance Analysis of Two-Stage

Fan for Small Turbofan Engines
J. Masud * , and S. Ahmed
Department of Aerospace Engineering, College of Aeronautical Engineering, National University of Sciences &
Technology, Risalpur 24090, Pakistan

This paper presents the computational study and first iteration of design refinement of a
two-stage fan that has been designed for small turbofan engines. 3-D computational analysis
of the original configuration indicated that the fan is unable to meet the design point
parameters. Systematic flow field analysis revealed certain problems with the 1st stage rotor
blade that could be improved by making small adjustments to its geometric features; such as
blade lean, sweep, chord and contour. With these changes incorporated in modified design,
the computed performance maps for both the original and modified fan 1st stage rotor were
created. These maps indicate an overall gain of 6% and 8% in fan 1st stage rotor design
point pressure ratio and isentropic efficiency, respectively. The performance of the complete
two-stage fan, with modified 1st stage rotor, was then computationally evaluated and its
operation map was constructed. After the 1st stage rotor redesign, the whole fan (two-stage)
design point efficiency and pressure ratio improved by 5-7% and 1.4%, respectively. With
this predicted improvement in its performance, the redesigned fan meets the projected
design point parameters.


computational fluid dynamics

leading edge
trailing edge
blade pressure side
blade suction side
pressure coefficient
Mach number
static pressure
total pressure
two equation Re-Normalized Group K- turbulence model
one equation Spalart-Allmaras turbulence model
Cartesian coordinate
Cartesian coordinate
Cartesian coordinate (axial direction)
non-dimensional length scale associated with turbulence model



n the field of turbo-machinery, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is becoming an important tool to analyze
the flow field inside turbines and compressors1,2,3,4. By this technique the performance analysis of turbo-machine
components, or the complete machine itself, under various conditions, can be simulated. Due to this aspect, CFD
offers greater flexibility to designer since various aspects of the design can be simulated before expensive testing is

Associate Prof, Dept of Aerospace Engg, College of Aeronautical Engg, NUST, Risalpur 24090, Pakistan.
Visiting Engineer, Dept of Aerospace Engg, College of Aeronautical Engg, NUST, Risalpur 24090, Pakistan.
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Copyright 2007 by Jehanzeb Masud. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., with permission.

Axial floow compressorr and fans playys a key role inn modern jet enngine
performancce1,2. Major design
goals1 are; high effficiency, high total
pressure ratio,
wide op
peration range and reduced component mass.
These goaals demand th
horough analyysis and undeerstanding of flow
behavior innside the comp
pressor / fan. The
T fan that iss the subject of this
study (refeerred to as the subject fan)) is no exceptioon. This axial flow
fan has beeen designed fo
or small turbofa
fan engines witth application focus
on small business
jets etc.
e The designned (subject) fan has two-sstages
with 22 blaades in the firsst stage rotor and
a 44 blades in the second stage
rotor. The tip clearance between
the rotor casing and the blades is about
2% of bladde height for both
the stages.. This fan is shhown in Fig. 1 with
casing hiddden from view.
The design methodo
ology of thee subject fann were basedd on
conventionnal techniques1, therefore its performance prediction by three
dimensionaal CFD analysis, before testiing, was deemeed necessary by
b the
designers. During thiis performannce predictionn certain design
adjustmentts, if felt neecessary, weree also to be incorporated and
evaluated. Since this 3-D
D CFD based performance
prrediction was of
o the Figuree 1. Geometricc layout off the
initial dessign, therefore certain appproximations in analysis were subject two-stage fan.
acceptable to the designeers, these approoximations bassically related to
t reducing thee computationaal cost by employing
features likke rotational peeriodicity of faan components,, azimuthally averaged
transffer of informattion between rootating
and non-rootating components, and steeady flow assuumption. Withh these approxximations, the salient perform
parameterss of the whole fan, or any off its componentts, could
be predicteed with reason
nable certainty, however the effect
blade wakke on down strream componeents or other unsteady
phenomenaa could not bee evaluated. Thhis level of annalysis is
generally acceptable
in early stages of design.
The aim
m of the presen
nt study is to compute
the floow field
of the subjject two-stage fan and predicct its performannce. For
this purpose initial analy
ysis is done foor the 1st stage of the
fan, after which
its perfformance map is constructedd. Based
on this anaalysis, the 1st stage design iss reviewed andd the 1st
stage rotorr blade is ideentified for deesign refinemeent. The
first-iteratiion (initial) refinements
too the 1st stagge rotor
include sm
mall adjustmen
in bladde lean angle, sweep
back, chord and profile. Major
parametters like stage solidity,
setting anggle etc are nott disturbed in this initial reffinement
process. After
rotor blad
de shape refinement, the fan 1st stage
flow field is computed under
different conditions in order to
construct itts operating map.
m Once satisffactory perform
mance is
indicated for
f the 1st stag
ge, then the coomplete two-sttage fan,
ure 2. Overviiew of com
mputational domain
with refinned 1st stage rotor (Fig. 1), is computaationally Figu
analyzed and
a its operatiion map is coonstructed in order
to (perriodic surfaces hidden).
predict itss performance within the approximations
s of the
employed CFD techniquee.


putational Setup

ometry is show
wn in Fig. 1. Thhe fan has 22 blades
in the firrst stage rotor and 44 blades in the
The moodeled fan geo
second stage rotor. The tip
t clearance between
the rotor casing andd the blades is about 2% of blade
height foor both
the stages. Since rotation
nal periodicity is present in all
a turbo-machhines, thereforee, for computattional efficienccy, the
use of rotaationally period
dic surfaces8 was
w made. Thiss enabled us too model only a single blade of each stage. Since
the presentt study is a steeady state anaalysis, thereforee the use of m
mixing-planes8 was made between
rotatinng and
non-rotatinng componentss of the fan. Thhis results in ceertain approxim
mation in compputed results siince mixing-pplanes
transmit onnly the radial variation
of flow
w parameters while
averaginng the azimuthaal (theta) variattions. Blade filllets at

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a Astronautiics

the hub were removed from all blades to facilitate the use of structured grid. This is conservative approach from
flow analysis aspect.
The modeled flow domain is shown in Fig. 2 (2nd stage of fan is not shown) where a bell-mouth intake was
added so that static sea-level conditions could be applied far from the fan 1st stage rotor. By modeling the
computational domain in this manner the uncertainty caused by upstream conditions on computed results was
Mapped quadrilateral elements were used to mesh the flow domains of both rotors and stators. The element
arrangement was generally O-type. This type of
structured mesh allows good distribution control to the
user and is computationally economical while capturing
relevant flow physics. Elements were graded towards the
blade surface, hub, rotor blade tip and casing in order to
accurately resolve near wall flow phenomena in the
vicinity of these areas. A representative computational
grid is shown in Fig. 3 along with the modeled periodic
surfaces and mixing planes.
Fluent finite-volume based CFD code6 along with
its preprocessor7 Gambit were used in the present
study. The three-dimensional compressible ReynoldsAveraged-Navier-Stokes (RANS) system of equations,
with appropriate turbulence model and variable property
air as fluid, was solved using the coupled-implicit
formulation of Fluent. No-slip velocity boundary
condition8 was enforced at the surface of blades, hub and Figure 3. Computational grid in the vicinity of fan
casing. Zero-shear or slip boundary condition was
enforced on bell-mouth intake and intake dome in order to avoid refined grid in these areas (Fig. 2 and 3). This also
helped in avoiding viscous losses at these locations since the bell-mouth intake and dome are an added feature for
CFD analysis and are not part of fan design. Static sea-level pressure was specified at the static-far-field ahead of

Figure 4. Flow traces through the modified fan at design point operation.
bell-mouth intake (Fig. 2), while at the exit of the fan varying (discrete) pressure was specified corresponding to the
operating condition being computed. Since the thermal problem was not of paramount importance in the present
study, therefore all the blade surfaces, hub, casing etc were modeled as thermally insulated8. The CFD software
package used in the present study (Fluent6,8) is well established in CFD community and the accuracy of its results
has been verified for a number of complex problems8, including turbo-machinery analysis.
A. Turbulence Modeling
The one-equation Spalart-Allmaras (SA) turbulence model9 has been used extensively for the present study. The
SA turbulence model8,9 is a low Reynolds number model and does not require the use of wall functions as such.
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However, in Fluent it is incorporated in a manner that allows the use of wall functions8. This results in less dense
near-wall grid to be used, which saves on computational cost of present analysis. Additionally, the SA turbulence
model is computationally less expensive than two-equation family of turbulence models and is recommended for
turbo-machinery analysis8.
In order to check the sensitivity of present analysis to the turbulence model used, design point computations
were also done using Re-Normalized Group K-, (RNGKE) and Shear Stress Transport (SST) turbulence models8.
The results indicated around 1-2% variation in integrated
parameters such as total pressure ratio, mass flow rate and
isentropic efficiency. Some minor flow variations were
apparent but were not considered crucial for the present
analysis since their effect is considered smaller than the
mixing-plane approximation already incorporated in the
employed computational method (discussed earlier in this
paper). Therefore, all the computed results presented in this
study are based on the SA turbulence model.
The computed flow traces at design point are shown in Fig.
4 for two different turbulence models for the re-designed fan.
This was part of the turbulence model dependence study
discussed above. The overall flow field is quite similar for the
one-equation Spalarat-Allmaras (SA) model and the twoequation Re-Normalized-Group K- (RNGKE) model. The
flow spillage due to rotor tip clearance is evident from Fig. 4.
The detrimental effect of this spillage flow on subsequent
stators is also visible by the distorted / separated stream traces
near the stator tips.
B. Grid Independence Analysis
Numerically computed results change with the type and
density of mesh / grid used for computations. Several different
mesh sizes were initially used in the present study to see the
Figure 5. 1st stage rotor performance map at
grid dependence of computed results at design point conditions.
design point speed (100% rpm).
The mesh size that produced adequate grid independent results
is described here.
As discussed earlier, O-type grid has been used for all blade domains. Therefore, only the mesh surrounding the
blades will be described. For the 1st stage rotor, O-type grid has 141 points around the blade, 21 points from the
blade to the periodic boundary (or mixing plane) and 71 points span wise i.e. 141 21 71. The corresponding 1st
stage stator O-type grid is 141 31 141. The O-type grid for 2nd stage rotor and stator is 161 21 71 and 121 27
81 respectively. The total number of nodes in the domain is 1.12 million. This number is near the maximum that
can be handled efficiently by the available computational resources.
As discussed earlier, grid points are graded towards the blade surface, hub, rotor blade tip and casing this ensures
that the computed turbulent law y+ remain below 100 (between 30~100). These values of turbulent y+ are within the
normal range8,10 for application of standard wall functions and show reasonable resolution of grid near the walls8,10.


Results and Discussion

The sequence of computations done in the present study has been briefly discussed earlier in this paper. First the
initial analysis of the 1st stage of the subject fan was done under different operating conditions. Based on this
analysis, the 1st stage design was reviewed and the 1st stage rotor blade was identified for design refinement. The
refinements (first-iteration) to the 1st stage rotor include small adjustments in blade lean angle, sweep back, chord
and profile. After the blade shape refinement, the fan 1st stage flow field was re-computed under different conditions
in order to construct the operating map. Finally, the complete two-stage fan with refined 1st stage rotor is
computationally analyzed under different conditions in order to construct its operating map. In this section the
results of these numerous and extensive computations are discussed in the sequence just described.
The basic flow field in the fan is shown in Fig 4. Under design point operation the flow in the fan generally
follows the channel between the blades. The flow spillage, from the rotor blade pressure side towards its suction
side, due to rotor tip clearance is evident from Fig. 4. The detrimental effect of this spillage flow on subsequent
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stators is also visible by the distorted / separated stream

traces near the stator tips. These flow traces become
radically disturbed under stall conditions, which are not
shown here.
A. Analysis of Original Fan 1st Stage
The results of computations of original fan 1st stage
indicated lower than expected total pressure ratio and
isentropic efficiency under design point conditions. Figure
5 partially shows the 1st stage rotor performance map (at
100% speed) derived from the computed results. The
modified design, i.e. with redesigned 1st stage rotor, is
included in this figure for brevity. All modified design
discussion is done subsequently in this paper. The reason
for low pressure ratio and isentropic efficiency were
a) Original Design
b) Modified Design
investigated by looking at the 1st stage flow field. Region Figure 6. Negative axial-velocity region (flow
of flow reversal / separation on the 1st stage rotor blade reversal / separation) in the vicinity of 1st stage rotor
was apparent, as shown in Fig. 6 (a). In this figure, blade at design point operation.
negative axial velocity indicates flow reversal in the
domain, and on the blade surface it indicates flow separation. The
region of flow separation in the fluid domain extends from 5% span
to 95% span. Most of the separation is evident at 10-60% span.
At design speed, design point pressure ratio is achieved at
significantly lower mass flow rate than design mass flow rate for
the original fan 1st stage (Fig. 5). Increasing the rotational speed to
about 106 % of design point rpm can help achieve the desired
pressure ratio at design mass flow rate, as is seen form performance
maps of original and modified (redesigned) 1st stage shown in Fig.
11 (discussed later in this paper), but this solution is not desirable
due to anticipated mechanical and aerodynamics problems.
Increasing the design rotational speed by 6% increases blade stress
and drastically reduces the surge margin to the extent that the blade
is operating almost at surge condition at design point (Fig. 11).
Based on this aspect, the 1st stage rotor redesign was carried out,
which is discussed next.
Figure 7. Geometric comparison between
B. Design Refinement of Fan 1st Stage Rotor
original and modified 1st stage rotor blade.
Previous studies1,2,3,4 have investigated the effect of blade lean,
5% Span
sweep and increased chord length in tip region numerically and
experimentally. The combination of these parameters is
50 % Span
considered important for efficient rotor blade operation and
performance. The original 1st stage rotor had a bit of forward lean
with small curvature in leading edge that results in compound
sweep. The first modification to the rotor blade was straightening
95% span
of its leading edge to get almost zero blade lean with almost
constant sweep back angle. The trailing edge of the rotor blade
was straightened from 30% to 100% of span so as to decrease the
adverse pressure region that was causing flow separation (Fig. 6).
These initial (first-iteration) modifications to the original 1st stage
rotor resulted in a rotor blade that is designated as the modified
Original Design
Modified Design
1st stage rotor blade.
The original geometry and modified geometry is shown in
Fig. 7 and 8. Fig. 7 shows the general three dimensional view,
while Fig. 8 shows the blade sections (profiles) at three locations
Figure 8. Blade sections of original and
along the span. From these figures it can be seen that the blade
modified 1st stage rotor.
lean has been reduced for the modified design compared to the
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original blade. The modified blade has lesser sweep as well. The blade chord of the modified design has also
increased from 50% of span onwards till 100% of span. From Fig. 7 and 8 it can be seen that the leading edge of the
modified blade is almost straight compared to some curvature seen in the original rotor blade. The blade chord
length of the modified blade is somewhat larger than the original blade, especially in the tip region (100% of span,
Fig. 8). The increase in chord length of blade is gradual from about 50% of span to all the way to tip. This increase
in blade chord of the modified design is due to straightening of the leading and trailing edges, as discussed earlier.
This is expected to improve flow stability and blade efficiency in the tip region.

Figure 9. Surface pressure distribution at different sections of original and modified 1st stage rotor blade at
design point operation.
The effect of the design refinement on modified blade characteristics can be seen from Fig 6. The flow
separation region seen in the original design has significantly reduced for the modified design where it is now
localized at the trailing edge. The effect of this reduced flow separation on performance of the modified 1st stage is
discussed later in this paper.
The pressure distribution at various sections of original and
modified rotors, at design point mass flow rate, is shown in Fig. 9.
At 5%-of-span location on pressure side, the pressure distribution for
original design indicates favorable gradient followed by adverse
gradient. Whereas, in modified design, the gradient changes from
neutral to adverse in a smooth manner, which indicates better
diffusion behavior. At the suction side (5% of span) some
improvement in diffusion is also noticeable for the modified design.
At 50% -of-span location (Fig 9), similar trend as that of 5% location
is evident, however the pressure gradients are more severe (than 5%
span location) for the original design. Consequently the
improvement seen in pressure distribution (and diffusion) for the
modified design is even more pronounced. At 95%-of-span location
(Fig. 9), the modified design rotor blade shows good diffusion
characteristics while the original design exhibits extremely poor
characteristics. This improvement is partially due to zero-lean for the
modified rotor blade. The maximum Mach number near the tip
region for the original blade is slightly above 1 while for the
modified design it is slightly below 1, which indicates better flow Figure 10. Qualitative static pressure
characteristics. The effect of better diffusion characteristics for the contours on 1st stage rotor blade at design
modified design is expected to improve its performance, which is point operation.
discussed in next section.
Static pressure distribution on rotor blade surfaces of the original and modified designs is shown in Fig. 10. This
figure shows the overall effect of rotor blade design refinement on surface pressure. It is evident from Fig. 10 that
both span wise and chord wise pressure distributions have improved for the modified design rotor compared to the
original design. The modified blade is better (evenly) loaded than the original blade. The effect of improved pressure
distribution (Fig. 9 and 10) has resulted in better behaved flow (Fig. 6) and is expected to improve the performance
of the modified blade compared to the original blade.
C. Performance Prediction of Modified (Redesigned) Fan 1st Stage
The reduced separation region (Fig. 6) and improved blade loading, as discussed earlier, has resulted in
improved efficiency for the modified 1st stage rotor. At design speed, the rotor efficiency has improved by about 8%
with corresponding increase in pressure ratio of about 6% as shown in Fig. 5. For the fan 1st stage with modified
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isentropic effeciency

rotor similar trend in

results is noted with
some losses associated
with stator. The upstream
tip clearance flow from
rotor that affects stator
flow near casing (Fig. 4),
contributes to stator
Figure 11 illustrate
compressor map of fan
complete 1st stage (rotor
+ stator). The original
constructed from 87.5% Figure 11. Fan 1 stage operation map for original and modified rotor designs.
to 106.25% of design speed, where as for modified design, the map
is made from 81.25% to 106.25% of design speed. From this map
(Fig. 11), it can be seen that the pressure ratio and efficiency of the
original design is very low. The fan 1st stage based on the original
design can achieve design pressure ratio at lower-than-design mass
flow rate or it can achieve design mass flow rate and design
pressure ratio at 106% of design speed. In this case the rotor is
operating near surge (Fig. 11), as discussed earlier. However, the
modified design is able to achieve the design mass flow rate,
pressure ratio at 100% design speed. The modified design stage has
over all higher efficiency then the original design at all operating
speeds. The surge margin for the modified design has improved
mass flow rate
significantly (Fig. 11).

pressure ratio

D. Performance Prediction of Complete Two-Stage Fan with

Redesigned / Modified 1st Stage Rotor
Over all fan performance map for two-stage fan, with modified
1st stage rotor, is shown in Fig. 12. After the 1st stage rotor design
refinement, the fan is able to meet the design point mass flow rate,
pressure ratio and minimum isentropic efficiency at design
rotational speed. After the 1st stage rotor redesign, the whole fan
(two-stage) design point efficiency and pressure ratio has improved
by 5-7% and 1.4%, respectively.
mass flow rate
The design refinements made to the 1st stage rotor (discussed
fan (two-stage)
earlier) have made positive effect on fan 1 stage performance, but
as emphasized earlier, these are first iteration (initial) refinements. The whole fan (two-stage) performance can be
improved by carrying out subsequent refinement iterations on 1st stage rotor as well as looking at other fan
components like 2nd stage rotor and stator etc. in greater detail.



In the present computational study, a small two-stage fan has been analyzed in detail. Based on initial results,
first iteration of design refinement has been done on 1st stage rotor. Due to improved blade loading, the refined
design (modified) 1st stage rotor exhibits a design point improvement of 8% and 6% in isentropic efficiency and
pressure ratio, respectively. This translates into 5-7% and 1.4% improvement in whole fan design point isentropic
efficiency and pressure ratio, respectively. The complete performance characteristics of the redesigned 1st stage and
complete fan have been evaluated, both of which indicate satisfactory performance consistent with other fans of the
same category. Further design optimization of the subject fan is possible through subsequent refinement iterations.

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