Developing New Fans Faster with Inverse Design

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Introduction

Soler & Palau Ventilation Group (Soler & Palau), an international company with a delegation located in Jacksonville, Fla., is one of the world’s leading fan manufacturers. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2001. The company offers a range of ventilation products benefiting from over 50 years of experience within the industry and attributes its long-term growth to one simple philosophy -- develop an air-moving product that effectively and efficiently meets customer needs, supported by unparalleled engineering, distribution and service.

"For us, the main benefit from TURBOdesign1 is that it will help in reducing design times"

Challenge

Soler & Palau’s project focused on developing axial fans that would be equipped with efficient brushless electronically commutated (EC) motors. Their aerodynamic performance would match the efficiency needs of the market. Of course, time-to-market for the development of these fans was a factor in this competitive industry. The company wanted to complete the design and development of the new axial fans in less time than its typical design cycle.

Soler & Palau’s A-MAX axial fan project focused on developing efficient, brushless EC motors

 

In particular, Soler & Palau engineers decided to focus on obtaining an optimized blade shape for the 450 mm diameter fan that matched the corresponding aerodynamic performance required.

Benefits

 

“For us, the main benefit from TURBOdesign1 is that it will help in reducing design times, not only in the aerodynamic design stage but also in the noise and structural validation stage,” said Guillem. “It also might increase planning accuracy, but we don’t yet have data to answer this question.”

Soler & Palau’s Research and Development department believes that using TURBOdesign1 definitely reduces total project times, in particular the time it takes to get to the final solution from the initial aerodynamics performance requested.

"A plus is that TURBOdesign Suite might make it easier for junior engineers that join our company to complete the knowledge transfer from the senior engineers"

Solution

Soler & Palau design engineers worked with ADT engineers to use TURBOdesign1 to quickly develop the 450 mm diameter fan blades.

“Not accounting for the training and testing time, it might have taken approximately two weeks to arrive at a very good solution as far as the blade geometry is concerned,” said Guillem Bordas, Project Manager, Soler & Palau. “Comparable past projects took approximately one month of only blade design time.”

Soler & Palau design engineers complemented the TURBOdesign1 study by doing some in-house direct simulations (aerodynamic and structural) and extensive testing for aerodynamics, noise and vibrations in addition to adjusting the motor, lifetime and structural tests to round out and complement the fan range.

The TURBOdesign1 generated designs held up to the testing, proving to be what Soler & Palau needed to achieve its new fan design goals.

Prior to using TURBOdesign1 to develop new fan blade geometry, Soler & Palau relied on its more skilled personnel to define the blades and hub shapes using their own techniques gleaned from years of experience. This approach has yielded good results in the past, but it takes significant time to develop designs in this way. Also, the engineer in charge needs to be highly trained, and, no matter how knowledgeable an engineer may be, that knowledge cannot be as wide-ranging or complete as the data and algorithms embedded in the TURBOdesign Suite.

“A plus is that TURBOdesign Suite might make it easier for junior engineers that join our company to complete the knowledge transfer from the senior engineers,” added Guillem.

Implementing TURBOdesign1 was easy. Soler & Palau agreed to try it on a real project. As part of the agreement, ADT design engineers worked on the axial fan design to show Soler & Palau engineers the software’s capabilities. At the same time, this helped Soler & Palau engineers get acquainted with the program and enabled them to judge the tool for themselves.

There were some aspects like choosing and manipulating the load curves that required additional time during the training.
For axial fans like the one developed during the trial period, Soler & Palau design engineers most frequently used TURBOdesign1’s blade loading capabilities.

The software’s menu lets users specify the way they want the blade to work and indirectly might help users address problems related to structural forces and noise.

Soler & Palau’s research and development department was already using certain tools for structural and computational fluid dynamics simulations, which gave its design engineers access to high-end computer systems. However, TURBOdesign Suite can be used on a regular personal computer, so the company did not need to purchase additional hardware or upgrade its computers.

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