Research Papers: Flows in Complex Systems

Computational Fluid Dynamic Studies of Vortex Amplifier Design for the Nuclear Industry—I. Steady-State Conditions

[+] Author and Article Information
D. Parker

John Tyndall Institute for Nuclear Research, School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences,  University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK; Trillium, 140 Aldersgate Street, London, UKdarren.parker@telerealtrillium.com

M. J. Birch1

John Tyndall Institute for Nuclear Research, School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences,  University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UKmjbirch@uclan.ac.uk

J. Francis

John Tyndall Institute for Nuclear Research, School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences,  University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UKjfrancis1@uclan.ac.uk


Corresponding author.

J. Fluids Eng 133(4), 041103 (May 16, 2011) (16 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4003775 History: Received July 05, 2010; Accepted February 03, 2011; Revised February 03, 2011; Published May 16, 2011; Online May 16, 2011

In this study the effects of changes to the geometry of a vortex amplifier are investigated using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) techniques, in the context of glovebox operations for the nuclear industry. These investigations were required because of anomalous behavior identified when, for operational reasons, a long-established vortex amplifier design was reduced in scale. The aims were (i) to simulate both the anomalous back-flow into the glovebox through the vortex amplifier supply ports, and the precessing vortex core in the amplifier outlet, then (ii) to determine which of the various simulated geometries would best alleviate the supply port back-flow anomaly. Various changes to the geometry of the vortex amplifier were proposed; smoke and air tests were then used to identify a subset of these geometries for subsequent simulation using CFD techniques. Having verified the mesh resolution was sufficient to reproduce the required effects, the code was then validated by comparing the results of the steady-state simulations with the experimental data. The problem is challenging in terms of the range of geometrical and dynamic scales encountered, with consequent impact on mesh quality and turbulence modeling. The anomalous nonaxisymmetric reverse flow in the supply ports of the vortex amplifier has been captured and the mixing in both the chamber and the precessing vortex core has also been successfully reproduced. Finally, by simulating changes to the supply ports that could not be reproduced experimentally at an equivalent cost, the geometry most likely to alleviate the back-flow anomaly has been identified.

Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

The principle of operation of the vortex amplifier

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Figure 2

VXA smoke tests showing supply port back-flow: (a, left) control and supply ports fully open; (b, right) restricted supply reveals back-flow

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Figure 3

The vortex amplifier in the plane through the main chamber, showing the geometry of the converging supply port taper and the associated parameters (X, Y, Φ) in Table 2. (Measurements 5 and 10 are in millimeters; the distribution around the chamber of supply ports SP1–4 is shown in the left-hand panel.)

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Figure 4

Completed fluid geometry for VXA and glovebox

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Figure 5

Unstructured surface and volume mesh for the fluid space

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Figure 6

Error in mass flow rate for the five geometries: (a) supply port (Ws ); (b) outlet port (Wo )

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Figure 7

Comparison of experimental (solid) and simulated (dashed) results, showing mass flow rates for both supply (blue) and outlet (red) against simulated control port mass flow rates. Error bars with a ± 15% range have been included to give an indication of the margin of error between the experimental and simulated results.

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Figure 8

Geometry 7.0 and Pc  = −374 Pa: (a) cross-section of VXA chamber showing radial distance from axis of symmetry (x mm), and height in vortex chamber; (b) radial velocity profiles; (c) tangential velocity profiles

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Figure 9

The vortex core in the VXA outlet

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Figure 10

Axial (z) velocity vector profiles for geometry 7.0 (Pc  = −373 Pa)

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Figure 11

Geometry 7.0 supply port mass flow rates for a range of control port pressures from −374 to −370 Pa (back-flow when mass flow rate < 0)

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Figure 12

Geometry 7.0 supply port velocity vector plots (Ps  = −373 Pa; z = −5 mm; Ws kg/s × 10−5 : SP1 7.870; SP2 2.227; SP3 2.850; SP4 1.294; see Fig. 3 for layout of supply ports SP1–4 around the vortex chamber)

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Figure 13

Ws against Pc for geometries 2.2, 2.3, 3.2, 3.3, and 7.0

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Figure 14

Velocity vector plots for geometries 7.0, 2.2, 2.3, 3.2, and 3.3, based on a control port pressure of −373 Pa




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