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Optimization of an Inlet Duct – CFD Analysis

Fluid flow simulation can help produce a superior duct design in apparatus engineering in order to increase the performance of the overall system. This project provides a good example for the practical usage of CFD in plant engineering applications.

The challenge

The installation situation of apparatus engineering devices can be critical for their performance. This project’s goal was to create a homogeneous flow field in front of the apparatus in order to enhance its performance.

Inlet duct design - CAD model

Inlet Duct Design Simulation

Parallel to the duct design, the flow simulation capabilities of SimScale have been used to analyze the impact on the flow pattern for each design. It was possible to use the insights into the flow behavior gained from using SimScale to make early design decisions, without the overhead of testing and prototyping.

Inlet duct mesh with SimScale

During the project, multiple simulations were carried out for multiple designs. One of the simulations took around 30 minutes on an 8-core machine. For a well-trained user, the simulation setup takes less than 10 minutes.

The image below shows the integrated post-processing environment of SimScale with a streamline visualization of the velocity field.

Inlet duct simulation with SimScale

Simulation Results

The results speak for themselves. The image below shows a color map visualization of the velocity field in the middle plane of two designs. The design on the left is the original version while in the design on the right, turning vanes have been added to the corner. The flow field near the outlet (on the left) is very inhomogeneous for the design without vanes. The reason for this flow behavior is the large recirculation region behind the corner of the duct. The design on the right shows a much more beneficial behavior: the airflow leaves the duct uniformly, which was this design project’s objective.

Inlet duct simulation with SimScale platform

The streamline visualization of the velocity field below illustrates the reason for the resulting flow behavior more clearly. In the design without turning vanes, a large recirculation region appears behind the corner; in this design, the efficient flow channel is reduced to almost half of the channel width. This shows that investing a small amount of time in simulation while designing an inlet duct can significantly improve the performance of the overall system.

Post-processing image of an inlet duct design - Simulation with SimScale

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