Computational Analyses of the Unsteady, Three Dimensional Multiphase Flow in a Liquid Ring Vacuum Pump
2019-12-06T20:48:29Z (GMT) by
Vacuum is needed in many applications and, there are many types of pumps that can provide the vacuum level needed. One widely used pump is the liquid-ring vacuum pump, which does not involve any solid-solid contacts at interfaces where moving and stationary parts meet. Though liquid-ring vacuum pumps are efficient and robust, manufacturers have aggressive goals on improving efficiency, performance, and range of operations.
In this research, time-accurate computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analyses were performed to study the flow mechanisms in a liquid-ring vacuum pump to understand how it works and how the design can be improved. Based on the understanding gained, a physics based reduced order model was developed for preliminary design of the liquid ring vacuum pumps.
In the CFD analyses, the liquid (water) was modeled as incompressible, the gas (air) as an ideal gas, and turbulence by the shear-stress transport model. The gas-liquid interface was resolved by using the volume-of-fluid method, and rotation of the impeller was enabled by using a sliding mesh. Parameters examined include the suction pressure (75, 300, and 600 Torr) and the impeller's rotational speed (1150, 1450 and 1750 rpm) with the temperature of the gas at the inlet of the suction chamber kept at 300 K and the pressure at the outlet of the exhaust chamber kept at one atmosphere. The CFD solutions generated were verified via a grid sensitivity study and validated by comparing with experimental data. When compared with experiments, results obtained for the flow rate of the gas ingested by the pump had relative errors less than 6\% and results obtained for the power consumed by the pump had relative errors less than 13\%.
Results obtained show the shape of the liquid ring to play a dominant role in creating the expansion ratio or the vacuum needed to draw air into the pump through the suction port and the compression ratio needed to expel the air through the discharge ports. Results were generated to show how centrifugal force from rotation and how acceleration/deceleration from the difference in pressure at the pump's inlet and outlet along with the eccentricity of the impeller relative to the pump's housing affect the shape of the liquid ring. Results were also generated to show how the rotational speed of the impeller and the pressure at the suction port affect the nature of the gas and liquid flow in the pump and the pump’s effectiveness in creating a vacuum.
With the knowledge gained from the CFD study, a physics-based reduced-order model was developed to predict air ingested and power consumed by the pump as well as the liquid ring shape and pressure of the gas and liquid in the pump as a function of design and operating parameters. This model was developed by recognising and demonstrating that the amount of air ingested and power consumed by the pump is strongly dependent on the shape and location of the liquid ring surface. The flow rates of the gas ingested by the pump and the power consumed by the pump predicted by the model were compared with experimental data and relative errors were less than 12\% and 17\% respectively.