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INTERNATIONAL DESIGN CONFERENCE - DESIGN 2004 Dubrovnik, May 18 - 21, 2004.

Fluid-Solid Interaction in Design of Multifunctional Screw Machines

Ahmed Kovacevic, Nikola Stosic, Ian K. Smith, Elvedin Mujic

Screw Compressor, Computer Aided Design, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Mathematical Modelling, Optimisation, Management Interface

1. Introduction
Screw compressors are rotating positive displacement machines, which are widely used in industry for air compression, refrigeration and process gas applications. These essentially consist of a pair of meshing helical lobe rotors contained in a casing as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Screw compressor principal mechanical parts

Rotors and housing together form a series of working chambers, as shown in Figure 2, by means of views from opposite ends and sides of the machine.

Figure 2 Screw compressor working principle; Left - View from Front and Top; Right - View from Bottom and Rear The dark shaded portions show the enclosed region where the rotors are surrounded by the casing and compression takes place, while the light shaded areas show the regions of the rotors which are exposed to external pressure. The large light shaded area in the left part of Figure 2 corresponds to the low pressure port. The small light shaded region between shaft ends B and D in the right part of the figure corresponds to the high pressure port. Admission of the gas to be compressed occurs through the low pressure port which is formed by opening the casing surrounding the top and front face of the rotors. Exposure of the space between the rotor lobes to the suction port, as their front ends pass across it, allows the gas to fill the passages formed between them and the casing. Further rotation then leads to cut off of the port and progressive reduction in the trapped volume in each passage, until the rear ends of the passages between the rotors are exposed to the high pressure discharge port. The gas then flows out through this at approximately constant pressure. An important feature of screw machines, which can well be appreciated from examination of Figure 2, is that if the direction of rotation of the rotors is reversed, then gas will flow into the machine through the high pressure port and out through the low pressure port and it will act as an expander. The machine will also work as an expander when rotating in the same direction as a compressor provided that the suction and discharge ports are positioned on the opposite sides of the casing to those shown since this is effectively the same as reversing the direction of rotation relative to the ports. When operating as a compressor, mechanical power must be supplied to shaft A to rotate the machine. When acting as an expander, it will rotate automatically and power generated within it will be supplied externally through shaft A. According to statistical facts about 80% of newly installed industrial compressors is of the screw type. However, these are also heavily used for other applications such as air compression or refrigeration. About 17% of energy generated in developed countries is used for gas compression. In the USA, during summer months almost 25% of energy is used in compressors for air-conditioning and refrigeration. Therefore, market demands require the rapid production of designs for such machines, which are competitive both in efficiency and unit price. To achieve this, each screw compressor design should be optimised according to its duty, capacity and available manufacturing facilities and developed individually. This requires flexible and reliable design tools which accommodate all design phases starting from the generation of suitable rotor profiles to the calculation of the fluid flow and thermodynamic processes in the machine by use of both one-dimensional and three-dimensional

flow modelling software and finally the production of full three-dimensional design models and manufacturing drawings.


A number of independent software packages have been either developed or used at City University, London, each of which aids a different function of the design process. This paper describes the development of an interface named DISCO, the function of which is to connect them together with standard CFD and CAD packages so that the repetitive use of any of them is minimised. The input parameters required for this are limited to a small number, which describe the rotor and compressor geometry and the operating conditions, which control the entire design process. The interface enables all modifications of the design process to be cross referenced with the design software units used. This results in drastic saving of both computer resources and design time. The interface developed serves as an envelope in which the following base packages are contained: Autodesk Mechanical Desktop 7 SCORPATH (Screw Compressor Optimal Rotor Profiling And THermodynamics) SCORG (Screw COmpressor Rotor Grid) a compressor grid generation program COMET (Computational cOntinuum Mechanics Tool) for 3-D analysis of flow and fluid-solid interaction effects SKF rolling element bearing data base

3. Rotor and Compressor Design and Optimisation

Screw machine rotors have parallel axes and a uniform lead angle and together form, effectively, a pair of helical gears. The rotors make line contact and the meshing criterion in the transverse plane perpendicular to their axes is the same as that of spur gears. Although spur gear meshing fully defines helical screw rotors, it is more convenient to use the envelope condition for crossed helical gears to get the required meshing condition as described in Stosic (2003). More detailed information on the envelope method applied to gears can be found in Litvin (1994). To start the procedure of rotor profiling, the profile point coordinates in the transverse plane of one rotor, and their first derivatives, must be known. This profile can be specified on either the main or gate rotors or in sequence on both. Also the primary profile may be defined as a rack. Full rotor and compressor geometry, like the rotor throughput cross section, rotor displacement, sealing lines and leakage flow cross section, as well as suction and discharge port coordinates are calculated from the rotor transverse plane coordinates and rotor length and lead. They are later used as input parameters for calculation of the thermodynamic and fluid flow processes within the screw compressor as well as for further design tasks, for example the generation of detailed drawings. The algorithm of the thermodynamic and flow processes used is based on a mathematical model comprising a set of equations which describe the physics of all the processes within the screw compressor. The mathematical model describes an instantaneous operating volume, which changes with rotation angle or time, together with the equations of conservation of mass and energy flow through it, and a number of algebraic equations defining phenomena associated with the flow. These are applied to each process that the fluid is subjected to within the machine; namely, suction, compression and discharge. The set of differential equations thus derived cannot be solved analytically in closed form. In the past, various simplifications have been made to the equations in order to expedite their numerical solution. The present model is more comprehensive and it is possible to observe the consequences of neglecting some of the terms in the equations and to determine the validity of such assumptions. This provision gives more generality to the model and makes it suitable for other applications. Screw machines are today used to compress both dry and oil-flooded air, refrigerants and process gases and the requirements for optimum design of their rotors and other elements differ for each application and working fluid.

Multivariable optimisation therefore should be employed as the starting point of the design procedure. The power and capacity of contemporary computers is only just sufficient to enable a full multivariable optimisation of both the rotor profile and the whole compressor design to be performed simultaneously in one pass. As already stated, there are several criteria for screw profile optimisation, which are valid irrespective of the machine type and duty. These are: R0, R2, R3, R4 bl, wtip, Oil ratio, Toil and ., as shown in Fig 3.

Figure 3 Design software SCORPATH

Optimisation targets must therefore be set according to the design requirement. Thus, if high efficiency is required, the specific power or adiabatic and volumetric efficiencies will be targets, if the compressor capacity is to be maximized, compressor flow will be the optimisation target. Box constrained simplex method was used here to find the local minima. This selects a simplex stochastically, as a matrix of independent variables and calculates the optimisation target. This is later compared with those of previous calculations and then their minimization is performed. One or more optimisation variables may be limited by the calculation results in the constrained box method. This gives additional flexibility to the compressor optimisation. The optimisation criterion can be any integral parameter of the compressor working cycle but the most used is the lowest compressor specific power. The optimisation results, after being input to an expandable compressor database, finally serve to estimate a global minimum. The database may be used later in conjunction with other results to accelerate the minimisation. All features described in this chapter are contained in SCORPATH, a main software package developed by authors, Figure 3.

4. 3D Fluid Flow and Structure Analysis

The authors have developed an automatic numerical mapping method for arbitrary screw compressor geometry, as explained in Kovacevic et all [2002 (a)], which was later used for the analysis of the processes in screw compressors, as reported by authors [Kovacevic et all 2002 (b)]. This method took advantage of the work in CFD area done by Demirdzic and Peric, who showed that by the use of moving frames on structured and

unstructured grids, a common numerical method can be used for the simultaneous solution of fluid flow and structural analysis. On that basis, authors have developed an interface program called SCORG (Screw COmpressor Rotor Geometry Grid generator), which also enables a grid, generated by the program, to be directly transferred to a commercial Computational Fluid Dynamics code through its own pre-processor. A number of commercial CFD software packages are currently available, of which the authors decided to employ COMET GmbH for screw machine calculations. That code offers the possibility to calculate both the fluid flow and solid structure simultaneously by the application of the Computational Continuum Mechanics (CCM) principle. By this means all previous works on the generation and thermodynamic calculation as well as the design changes obtained through the management interface DISCO are fully connected into the unique tool for design of screw machines.

The interface, which starts with only a few input parameters needed to describe the geometry and operating conditions, enables complete control to be retained over the each step of the design process providing that all changes in any phase are returned to all previous and following design phases. By this means, the design parameters are controlled from one place only showing full process flexibility and user friendliness. This is becoming very important in todays lively market of screw compressors since designers and manufacturers are expected to achieve the desired performance at low design and manufacturing costs and in a limited time scale. Therefore, the authors decided to develop a program to serve as a computational aid for the complete design process starting from the initial concept all the way up to the manufacturing of the compressor. The program interface manages all geometrical, thermodynamic, optimisation, boundary and operation parameters of the screw compressor between all components used for the design of these machines and connects them to the CAD and CFD software. Since Mechanical Desktop 7 accommodates a parametric approach to the design, the external database, Microsoft Excel is used here as a connection between the 3D models of the compressor components. Therefore, all changes introduced or generated by each basic program are automatically updated in all components and a full 3D model of the machine is generated with minimum manual input. The model serves as a basis for rapid prototyping while the automatically generated drawings are provided to support more conventional manufacturing methods.

Figure 4 Opening screen of the managing interface program

Therefore, the control over the design process is parametrically conducted from one place, and the redundant elements of data and modelling procedures are reduced. This in turn saves both computer resources and time wasted in a classical design process where any change requires substantial effort to be implemented in all design phases. The opening screen of the interface program DISCO is shown in Figure 4. DISCO stands for Design Interface for Screw Compressors. The main design screen is shown Figure 5. Alterations made to a general compressor parameters as well as to other details of the machine are made through this screen.

Figure 5 Main scenery of the interface program Other base elements for the screw compressor calculation and its CAD, as well as spread sheets and data bases, can be used to form and complete the design package instead of the applied ones, and the choice depends on availability and customer preference. Figure 6 shows a 3D model and assembly drawing of an air screw compressor designed by use of DISCO interface and other software packages mentioned earlier.

Figure 6 3D Model and Drawings Generated by DISCO with MDT6


Figure 7 Block diagram of a proton membrane exchange fuel cell with compressor-expander

It appears that the hydrogen proton exchange membrane is the most promising type of fuel cells for application in the automotive industry. Units based on this are now being developed intensively. They require a continuous supply of saturated air at flow rates of 100-300 kg/hr at a pressure of approximately 3 bar abs. The products of the reaction, containing mainly nitrogen and water, are rejected from them at approximately 80-100oC and 2.8 bar. The power input required for compressing the air is currently of the order of 20% of the fuel cell electrical output and this is unacceptably high for the unit to be competitive. Therefore, power recovered from expansion of the discharged reaction products has to be used to drive the compressor (Error! Reference source not found.). A number of proposals have been made on how to do this but, in the opinion of the authors, the most promising is to use a combined screw Compressor-Expander on the same pair of rotors in separate chambers, formed by a





Figure 8.

Rotor profile is generated by SCORPATH to provide sealing in blow hole areas on both sides of rotors which is the main prerequisite for both expansion and compression to be efficient The 3D CAD model is made in Mechanical Desktop 7 with the aid of DISCO interface. Fully parametric approach allowed easier and faster alterations in all phases of design.

Figure 8 Transparent view of the compressor-expander from a CAD model Since the concept of the machine is completely new its characteristic had to be predicted and the design optimised in order for the performance to be improved, both of the machine and the fuel cell for the automotive application. Three dimensional approach is applied for this which employs computational continuum mechanics methods based on finite volume approach and the grid generation based on analytical transfinite interpolation (Kovacevic et all, 2002).

Figure 9 Main rotor, pressure and temperature in the combined machine

The numerical grid is generated by SCORG. It contains of 1,378,960 numerical cells in both, the fluid and solid parts of the machine. The rotors of the combined machine are mapped with 393,752 hexahedral numerical cells while the remaining cells belong to the fluid part of which 538.050 cells belong to the compressor. Even with well over one million cells, the solution could be obtained from a PC powered by an ATHLON 2000+ processor with 1.5 GB RAM by use of COMET CCM solver. The compressor suction pressure and temperature were atmospheric while the discharge pressure exceeded 3 bar with a temperature of up to 80oC. The temperature was kept low by the humidifying of the air at the compressor suction. The mixture of nitrogen and water vapour at the expander inlet was assumed to be at a pressure of to 2.8 bar with a temperature of 100oC. The diameter of the male rotor of the machine was optimised to 69 mm, the axial distance between rotors was 48 mm and the configuration was 3 lobes on the male rotor and 5 lobes on the female rotor. The compressor length/diameter ratio was 1.2 while that of the expander was 1.0. The rotational speed of the male rotor was assumed to be 9500 rpm. The male rotor, the pressure distribution and the temperature on the male rotor in the combined machine are shown in Figure 9.

Figure 10 Rotor temperature - deformed grid Calculated temperature and pressure distribution within the machine serves as the basis for its mechanical design. Although the air temperature within the machine is high, the temperature of the rotors is not because of the averaging between the high and low temperature achieved by the fast rotation of rotors. This causes deformation in the middle part of the rotor but the bearings, which are provided only on cold sides, are not affected by temperature at all. Synchronising gears on the right





Figure 8 are lubricates by the oil contained in the oil chamber. This part of the compressor is not

exposed to high temperatures and the oil is cooled only by air circulation.


Figure 11 Radial and axial forces for compressor (top), expander (middle) and combined compressor-expander (bottom) Figure 10 shows the temperature distribution within the rotors. The deformation of the rotors is magnified by a factor of 1000 in order for it to be visible. Since the pressure has little influence to the deformation of the relatively stiff rotors, the bulk of the deformation is caused by the change in temperature. The rotors are thereby enlarged in the central part of the machine and thus the clearances in the region of high temperatures are reduced by 30-40 m during operation. Since the pressure difference in that critical area is large, the leakage flow is reduced and consequently the volumetric efficiency of the machine is increased. Such an arrangement requires only two pairs of bearings compared with four for a separate compressor and expander. This reduces the overall weight, which is important for automotive applications. In addition, both the radial and axial forces on the bearings are reduced, as shown in Figure 11. The top diagram shows both axial and radial bearing forces in case if only compressor has been considered. The critical is a axial bearing load on the female rotor. The middle diagram shows forces on bearings in case of the expander. On the bottom diagram the combined machine with reduced forces is shown. This latter feature is not of very great importance regarding the rotor deformation but helps if the smaller and lighter bearings are to be selected.

The program described in this paper serves as the managing interface for design software used for the development of screw machines. It requires only few input parameters, which specify geometry and operating conditions of a screw compressor. It allows a full control over the fully parametric design


process between profile generation, preliminary calculations, 3D CAD modelling and numerical analysis. This allows that any changes made in any stage of the process are accounted for in all other phases either earlier or later. Therefore, the control over the design process is parametrically conducted from only one place, and a redundancy of data and modelling procedures are reduced. This in turn saves both computer resources and time. The example of the development of a new machine which comprises both compression and expansion in the working chamber is presented in the paper.

8. References
Kovacevic, A.; Stosic, N.; Smith, I.K.; CFD Analysis of Screw Compressor Performance, In: Advances of CFD in Fluid Machinery Design edited by Elder, R.L, Tourlidakis, A, Yates M.K, Professional Engineering Publishing of ImechE, London, 2002 Kovacevic, A.; Stosic, N.; Smith, I.K.; The Influence of Rotor Deflections upon Screw Compressor Performance, Conference on Screw Type Machines VDI-Schraubenmachinen, Dortmund, Germany, September 2002, 17-28 (b) Litvin F.L, 1994: Teoria zubchatiih zaceplenii (Theory of Gearing), 1956, Nauka Moscow, second edition, 1968, also Gear Geometry and Applied Theory Prentice-Hill, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 1994 Stosic, N, Hanjalic K., Development and Optimization of Screw Machines with a Simulation Model, Part I: Profile Generation, Part II: Thermodynamic Performance Simulation and Design, ASME Proceedings, Journal of Fluids Engineering, 1997, Vol 119, p 659, p664 Stosic N, Smith I. K. and Kovacevic A.; Opportunities for Innovation with Screw Compressors, Proceedings of IMechE, Journal of Process Mechanical Engineering, 2003 Stosic N, Kovacevic A. and Smith I. K.; Optimisation of Screw Compressors, Applied Thermal Engineering, 23, 2003, pp. 1177-1195

Dr Ahmed Kovacevic City UniversityLondon School of Engineering and Mechanical Sciences Northampton Square, EC1V 0HB London, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7040 8780 Fax: +44 20 7040 8566 e-mail: a.Kovacevic@city.ac.uk