Computational Study of a Customised Shallow-Sump Aero-Engine Bearing Chamber With Inserts to Improve Oil Residence Volume

Adeniyi, Akinola orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0768-9341, Chandra, Budi and Simmons, Kathy (2017) Computational Study of a Customised Shallow-Sump Aero-Engine Bearing Chamber With Inserts to Improve Oil Residence Volume. In: ASME Turbo Expo 2017: Turbomachinery Technical Conference and Exposition, June 26–30, 2017, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

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An aero-engine bearing chamber is a structure that is used to contain and collect oil used in lubricating and cooling the bearings supporting the high-speed engine shafts. There are various bearings in an aero-engine. Within the bearing chambers, there are typically the bearings, rotating shafts, seals and gears (in some designs). The walls of the bearing chamber are stationary and there are vents and sumps to take out the oil, via an offtake pipe, and the sealing air. The oil collected via the sump and vents is recycled and used again in the loop. To prevent oil degradation and reduce chance of coking in the chamber, it is desired that all of the oil goes through the recycling loop, with no oil staying longer than necessary in the chamber. The sealing air is used to maintain a positive pressure to keep the oil within the chamber. The flow inside a bearing chamber is highly turbulent and consists of a rotating mixture of oil and air.

A smaller amount of the oil, mostly as oil-droplets, exits at the vents and is separated from the air using de-aerators [1]. It is expected that by gravity, most of the oil collects at the sump and can be easily scavenged. This is provided the sump can be large enough. The geometry of a bearing chamber is, however, complex largely because of space limitations. It is very important that oil is not resident longer than necessary to prevent over-heating and therefore deterioration or coking. Experimental observations by Chandra & Simmons [2], have shown that bearing chambers with deep sumps perform better that those with shallow sumps.

Since shallow sumps are inevitable, a number of innovative studies have been done to improve bearing chamber designs. The presence of air in the oil (e.g. as bubbles) reduces the efficiency of the scavenging pump. Other factors such as oil momentum and windage can take oil away from the off-take pipe potentially increasing oil residence volume. Chandra & Simmons [2] placed inserts such as grille cover, perforated plate, etc, on a side of the bearing wall and improvements in the residence volume were seen. In this work, we are looking at a detailed computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation of one of the inserts that performed well. This will aid understanding of the flow characteristics of using an insert to improve oil residence in a bearing chamber.

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