CFD Analysis of Off-Design Centrifugal Compressor Operation and Performance

This paper presents some of the results from a Master’s thesis research into the performance and operation of a centrifugal compressor at off-design operating conditions using advanced computational fluid dynamics (CFD) techniques. ANSYS CFX is the CFD solver used in this blind study to evaluate the ability of modern CFD software to predict the performance of centrifugal compressors operating at highly complex flows regimes. The off-design cases considered included compressor operations at 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 100% and 105% of the on-design rotational speed. Speed lines were generated for each case and compared to experimental measurements. The predicted results were found to match very closely with the experimental measurements. The flow within the centrifugal compressor stage was also examined by considering various performance parameters and making use of three-dimensional flow visualizations. This allowed for a better understanding of the fluid behaviour within the centrifugal compressor. Lastly, the benefits of unsteady (time accurate) simulation on centrifugal compressor performance predictions were investigated. The results obtained showed that unsteady simulations noticeably improve the accuracy of the compressor performance predictions.
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