Industrial centrifugal air compressors can require a combination of a large range of
mass flow, high efficiency, constant pressure ratio, and constant rotational speed,
specifically when used for sewage effluent aeration treatment. In order to achieve this
performance it is common to use variable inlet guide vanes (VIGV's).
The performance characteristics of an existing VIGV design have been determined
using both an experimental test facility and state of art numerical techniques. The
results obtained from these techniques are far more comprehensive than earlier fullscale
performance testing. Validation of the performance of the existing design using
these techniques has led to the development of a new vane design and potential
improvements to the inlet ducting geometry.
The aerodynamic interaction between the VIGV system and the centrifugal
compressor impeller has also been investigated using a 3-D computational model of
the complete variable geometry compressor stage. The results of these investigations
have been validated by data available from full scale experimental testing. Strong
correlation was obtained between numerical and experimental techniques, and a
predicted improvement in polytropic efficiency up to 3% at low flow rates using the
re-designed variable inlet guide vanes has been achieved.
The overall outcome of this research is a usable VIGV design technique for real
industrial compressor environments, and confirmation that an acceptable design can
be achieved that represents a rewarding improvement in performance.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.