Design for Coupled-Mode Flutter and Non-Synchronous Vibration in Turbomachinery

This research presents the detailed investigation of coupled-mode flutter and non-synchronous vibration in turbomachinery. Coupled-mode flutter and non-synchronous vibration are two aeromechanical challenges in designing turbomachinery that, when present, can cause engine blade failure. Regarding flutter, current industry design practices calculate the aerodynamic loads on a blade due to a single mode. In response to these design standards, a quasi three-dimensional, reduced-order modeling tool was developed for identifying the aeroelastic conditions that cause multi-mode flutter. This tool predicts the onset of coupled-mode flutter reasonable well for four different configurations, though certain parameters were tuned to agree with experimentation. Additionally, the results of this research indicate that mass ratio, frequency separation, and solidity have an effect on critical rotor speed for flutter. Higher mass-ratio blades require larger rotational velocities before they experience coupled-mode flutter. Similarly, increasing the frequency separation between modes and raising the solidity increases the critical rotor speed. Finally, and most importantly, design guidelines were generated for defining when a multi-mode flutter analysis is required in practical turbomachinery design.

Previous work has shown that industry computational fluid dynamics can approximately predict non-synchronous vibration (NSV), but no real understanding of frequency lock-in and blade limit-cycle amplitude exists. Therefore, to understand the causes of NSV, two different reduced-order modeling approaches were used. The first approach uses a van der Pol oscillator to model a non-linear fluid instability. The van der Pol model is then coupled to a structural degree of freedom. This coupled system exhibits the two chief properties seen in experimental and computational non-synchronous vibration. Under various conditions, the fluid instability and the natural structural frequency will lock-in, causing structural limit-cycle oscillations. This research shows that with proper model-coefficient choices, the frequency range of lock-in can be predicted and the conditions for the worst-case, limit-cycle-oscillation amplitude can be determined. This high-amplitude limit-cycle oscillation is found at an off-resonant condition, i.e., the ratio of the fluid-shedding frequency and the natural-structural frequency is not unity. In practice, low amplitude limit-cycle oscillations are acceptable; this research gives insight into when high-amplitude oscillations may occur and suggests that altering a blade's natural frequency to avoid this resonance can potentially make the response worse.

The second reduced-order model uses proper orthogonal decomposition (POD) methods to first reconstruct, and ultimately predict, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations of non-synchronous vibration. Overall, this method was successfully developed and implemented, requiring between two and six POD modes to accurately predict CFD solutions that are experiencing non-synchronous vibration. This POD method was first developed and demonstrated for a transversely-moving, two-dimensional cylinder in cross-flow. Later, the method was used for the prediction of CFD solutions for a two-dimensional compressor blade, and the reconstruction of solutions for a three-dimensional first-stage compressor blade.

This research is the first to offer a van der Pol or proper orthogonal decomposition approach to the reduced-order modeling of non-synchronous vibration in turbomachinery. Modeling non-synchronous vibration is especially challenging because NSV is caused by complicated, unsteady flow dynamics; this initial study helps researchers understand the causes of NSV, and aids in the future development of predictive tools for aeromechanical design engineers.

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