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Engineering Science

Engineers, Part C: Journal of Mechanical

Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical

http://pic.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/09/14/0954406212454966.1

The online version of this article can be found at:

DOI: 10.1177/0954406212454966

online 3 August 2012

published Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part C: Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science

Xinqian Zheng, Lei Jin, Tao Du, Binlin Gan, Fenghu Liu and Huihua Qian

Effect of temperature on the strength of a centrifugal compressor impeller for a turbocharger

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Original Article

Effect of temperature on the strength

of a centrifugal compressor impeller

for a turbocharger

Xinqian Zheng

1

, Lei Jin

1

, Tao Du

2

, Binlin Gan

2

, Fenghu Liu

3

and

Huihua Qian

4

Abstract

High pressure ratio turbocharger technology is used to decrease fuel consumption, reduce emissions and improve

power density of an internal combustion engine. The centrifugal compressor is the turbochargers core component.

The reliability of its impeller becomes critical as the pressure ratio gets higher and the temperature starts playing an

important role. In order to study the effect of the flow temperature on the reliability of a centrifugal compressor

impeller, solidfluid coupling is used to calculate the temperature distribution on the impeller surface. This temperature

distribution is then applied as boundary condition in three-dimensional finite element analysis to analyze impeller stress.

The results show that the percentage of impeller stress caused by thermal load remains approximately constant (about

2%) at different pressure ratios, which does not increase with increasing pressure ratio. Centrifugal load plays an

absolutely critical role in the impeller stress at different pressure ratios. High pressure ratio also leads to an increase

of air temperature, which causes higher material temperature and consequently the lower ultimate tensile strength of

the impeller material. The maximum compressor pressure ratio which the impeller can bear decreases from 4.6 to 4.2

for the researched compressor if the effect of temperature on the ultimate tensile strength was considered. That means

the effect of the temperature on compressor impeller strength and reliability at high pressure ratio should be considered

while it can be ignored at low pressure ratio.

Keywords

Solidfluid coupling, centrifugal compressor, turbocharger, strength, temperature

Date received: 8 March 2012; accepted: 26 June 2012

Introduction

The energy consumption related to environmental

problem has become a focus of public and regulatory

attention. The global temperature increase caused by

CO

2

emissions may lead to an environmental and

social catastrophe.

1

As the main power devices of

most transportation vehicles and engineering machin-

ery in industrialized societies, internal combustion

engines are responsible for 25% of the global energy

consumption and CO

2

emissions. On the premise of

guaranteeing engine performance, high pressure ratio

turbocharger technology can reduce engine displace-

ment to improve engine power density and fuel econ-

omy, while decreasing CO

2

emissions.

24

Meanwhile,

in order to reduce the NO

x

emissions and meet increas-

ingly stringent emission regulation requirements, high

rates of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) are generally

used, for which high pressure ratio turbocharger tech-

nology is required.

57

In addition, at high altitudes, low

air density decreases engine power signicantly. High

pressure ratio turbocharger technology is the core

technology in recovering engine power in such condi-

tions.

8,9

Consequently, high pressure ratio turbochar-

ger technology has been widely studied.

1012

The centrifugal compressor is the core component

of a turbocharger. It is also widely used in small gas

turbines, as well as industrial compressors.

13

In recent

years, research into the reliability of compressor

impeller is increasing for economical and environmen-

tal reasons.

14,15

Valakos et a1.

16

carried out structural

optimization of the back face geometry of a centrifu-

gal impeller, with respect to the minimization of the

stress due to centrifugal load. Osborne et al.

17

1

State Key Laboratory of Automotive Safety and Energy, Tsinghua

University, Beijing, China

2

Beijing Power Machinery Research Institute, Beijing, China

3

FuYuan Turbochargers Co., Ltd, Weifang, Shandong, China

4

SinoTurbo Power Co., Ltd, Beijing, China

Corresponding author:

Xinqian Zheng, State Key Laboratory of Automotive Safety and Energy,

Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China.

Email: zhengxq@tsinghua.edu.cn

Proc IMechE Part C:

J Mechanical Engineering Science

0(0) 19

! IMechE 2012

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DOI: 10.1177/0954406212454966

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optimized the design of a compressor impeller using a

multi-disciplinary method. A two-step optimization

method was used. Loop 1 combined quasi-3D aero-

dynamic method and blade-alone FEA models, with

reduced blade stress under blade centrifugal loadings.

Loop 2 used a 3D pie-slice nite element analysis

(FEA) model with decreased bore stress goal. As a

result of the research, the cost of the impeller

decreased signicantly after replacing titanium alloy

with aluminium. However, the optimization takes

only the centrifugal load into account, and does not

consider thermal loads.

With the increase of the turbocharger pressure

ratio, much research has been carried out into the

eect of the heat transfer on the turbocharger per-

formance.

1820

However, there is relatively little

research into the eects of the temperature increase

on the reliability of a compressor impeller. As one of

only few examples, Mukherjee et al.

21

investigated the

thermal stress that occurred at the impeller together

with the centrifugal load. In order to obtain the sur-

face temperature of the impeller, a heat transfer coef-

cient derived from empirical correlation was used.

In this article, a soliduid coupling analysis is

used to obtain the surface temperature distribution

of a turbocharger compressor impeller. The surface

temperature distribution is then applied as a bound-

ary condition in a FEA to study the compressor

impeller stress with thermal loads. Finally, the eect

of the temperature on impeller reliability at dierent

pressure ratios is analyzed.

Physical models and calculation methods

Study object

In this article, a turbocharger centrifugal compressor

impeller with six main blades and six splitter blades

was studied. The outlet diameter and width of the

impeller are 122 mm and 3.3 mm, respectively. The

backward angle of the blades is 35

. The material

of this impeller is aluminum LD7 whose properties at

dierent temperatures are shown in Table 1.

Temperature calculation method

As the impeller works on the air, the air temperature

rises, leading in turn to an increase of the impeller

temperature. The temperature distribution on the

impeller surface is obtained by soliduid coupling

calculation. The impeller is a symmetric cycle with

6 main blades and 6 splitter blades. Therefore, 1/6

of the structure was analyzed to reduce the numerical

solution time; that is, the analysis model involves only

one main blade and one splitter blade. The mesh for

soliduid coupling analysis is shown in Figure 1,

which includes uid and solid domains. The solid

domain mesh is also used for the subsequent struc-

tural analysis.

For the numerical calculation in the uid domain,

a CFD code based on a 3D steady compressible nite

volume scheme was used to solve the Reynolds-aver-

aged NavierStokes equations in conservative formu-

lation. The turbulence model is the standard k-epsilon

model. A central scheme was used for spatial discret-

ization while fourth-order RungeKutta scheme for

the temporal discretization. After checking for mesh

independence, the mesh number selection was set to

1,000,000. The boundary conditions of the simulation

are derived from the turbocharger performance test

data. Total temperature and total pressure together

with the velocity direction were imposed as inlet

boundary conditions; static pressure was set as

outlet boundary condition. No-slip and impermeabil-

ity conditions were imposed on the solid walls. A

mixing plane method was applied for ow parameter

transmission calculation. In the circumferential direc-

tion, a periodical boundary condition was imposed.

Conjugate heat transmission analysis technology

was applied in the soliduid coupling calculation of

the impeller temperature. Thus, solid and uid

domains are all included in the simulation and their

temperature distributions are calculated at the same

time. Considering the soliduid coupling, the inter-

faces between the solid domain and the uid domains

are taken as the inner boundary. The heat transfer

coecient is not found using an empirical correlation

but determined by the iterative calculation between

uid and solid domain. Consequently, the tempera-

ture values obtained through soliduid coupling

model will be more reliable than those using an

empirical heat transfer coecient. The heat transfer

between the compressor and the environment is not

considered in this article.

Structural analysis method

FEA was used in the structural analysis of the centri-

fugal compressor impeller, which represents the solid

domain in calculations above.

The equilibrium equations for linear structural

static analysis are

oo

x

ox

ot

xy

oy

ot

xz

oz

F

bx

0 1

Table 1. Properties of LD7 at different temperature: ultimate

tensile strength o

b

, thermal conductivity z, specific heat

capacity C, density , and modulus of elasticity E.

T (K) o

b

(MPa) z (W/m/K) C (J/kg/K) , (kg/m

3

) E (GPa)

293 412 142 2760 72

373 380 146 795 2760 67

433 345 149 837 2760 64

473 313 151 837 2760 61

2 Proc IMechE Part C: J Mechanical Engineering Science 0(0)

at Tsinghua University on October 4, 2012 pic.sagepub.com Downloaded from

ot

yx

ox

oo

y

oy

ot

yz

oz

F

by

0 2

ot

zx

ox

ot

zy

oy

oo

z

oz

F

bz

0 3

where F

bx

, F

by

and F

bz

are the body forces per unit

volume acting along the directions x, y and z, respect-

ively. o and t are normal stress and shear stress com-

ponents. Subscripts are used to describe their

directions.

The strains induced in the body can be expressed in

terms of the displacements, as shown below

c

x

ou

ox

, ,

xy

ou

oy

ov

ox

4

c

y

ov

oy

, ,

yz

ov

oz

ow

oy

5

c

z

ow

oz

, ,

zx

ow

ox

ou

oz

6

where u, v and w are the displacements along the dir-

ections x, y and z, respectively. c and , are normal

strain and shear strain components. Subscripts are

used to describe their directions.

In the case of linear elasticity of the isotropic 3D

solid with thermal load, the stressstrain relations are

given as

c

x

1

E

o

x

j o

y

o

z

oT T

0

, ,

xy

t

xy

G

7

c

y

1

E

o

y

j o

z

o

x

oT T

0

, ,

yz

t

yz

G

8

c

z

1

E

o

z

j o

x

o

y

oT T

0

, ,

zx

t

zx

G

9

where E is the Youngs modulus, G the shear modu-

lus, and j the Poissons ratio of the material, o a

thermal expansion coecient of the material that is

variable with temperature, T the temperature eld and

T

0

the initial temperature eld.

Static structural analysis was done by solving the

equations above numerically under set boundary con-

ditions and material physical properties. The material

stressstrain status was then obtained.

The temperature distribution on the impeller sur-

face is obtained by soliduid coupling heat transfer

calculation, and then applied to the impeller surface

as boundary condition. Through nite element ther-

mal analysis, the temperature distribution of whole

impeller is obtained as the thermal load of the

Figure 1. The mesh for solidfluid coupling analysis: (a) fluid domain, (b) solid domain.

Zheng et al. 3

at Tsinghua University on October 4, 2012 pic.sagepub.com Downloaded from

following structural analysis. The centrifugal load is

obtained from a given rotational speed. As in the cal-

culations before, only 1/6 of the periodic structure was

meshed to reduce computational time. The following

boundary conditions and loads were applied for the

structural analysis: (1) centrifugal loads given by rota-

tional speed; (2) those nodes attached to both the

front and reverse side of the impeller are constrained

and the displacements along circumferential and axial

directions are equal to zero. The compressor impeller

nite element mesh was built using 3D solid elements,

containing 30,976 elements.

Simulation result of temperature field

Figure 2 shows the performance map of the turbo-

charger compressor. In order to study the compressor

impeller temperature distribution at dierent pressure

ratios, eight working points under dierent rotating

speeds, and thus dierent pressure ratios, were ana-

lyzed. The normalized mass ow rate is the ratio of

mass ow rate to the maximum mass ow rate

(m,m

max

). The normalized rotational speed is the

ratio of rotational speed to the maximum rotational

speed (n,n

max

). The working points are marked by

dots in Figure 2.

Figure 3 shows the temperature distribution of the

impeller surface obtained from soliduid coupling

analysis for a pressure ratio of 3.4 (84% of nominal

rotating speed). It can be seen that the impeller sur-

face temperature is continuously increasing from inlet

to outlet. At the inlet, the temperature is 339 K; the

outlet temperature is the highest with the value of

389 K. The temperature distributions of the impeller

surface at other working points are similar to that

displayed in Figure 3. Except for the temperature of

the impeller outlet, the temperature of the impeller

core is also important because the highest stress of

100%

95%

90%

84%

74%

63%

53%

42%

32%

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

3.5

4.0

4.5

5.0

0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.1

Normalized mass flow rate

P

r

e

s

s

u

r

e

r

a

t

i

o

Figure 2. Performance of the centrifugal compressor by

experiment.

Figure 3. Temperature distribution of the compressor impeller surface when pressure ratio is 3.4.

4 Proc IMechE Part C: J Mechanical Engineering Science 0(0)

at Tsinghua University on October 4, 2012 pic.sagepub.com Downloaded from

the impeller usually occurs in the core region. Figure 4

shows the impeller core and outlet temperature under

eight working conditions, from which it can be seen

that the compressor impeller temperature varies with

increasing pressure ratio. It can be seen that both the

impeller core and the outlet temperature increase with

pressure ratio. The temperature at outlet region

increases from 318 to 432 K and the temperature in

the core region increases from 313 to 379 K when the

pressure ratio rises from 1.5 to 4.6.

Figure 5 shows the heat ux distribution of on the

impeller surface, representing the heat transfer

between air and impeller per unit area. It can be

seen from Figure 5 that the heat ux on the impeller

surface is not uniform. At the outlet, the air tempera-

ture rises after compression, the air transfers heat to

the impeller and impeller outlet temperature rises.

Through internal heat transfer, the temperature at

the impeller inlet and the impeller core also

rises. Therefore, the compressor inlet temperature is

higher than the air temperature and the compressor

impeller heats up the passing air ow. Thus, taking

the solid compressor impeller as carrier, a portion of

the heat at the impeller outlet is transferred to the air

at compressor impeller inlet, which changes the uid

domain temperature distribution. It can be clearly

seen that the temperature distributions in the uid

and solid domains interact with each other.

The largest temperature dierence between air and

impeller occurs at the compressor outlet and leads to

the greatest heat ux. Figure 6 shows the highest heat

ux at compressor outlet against pressure ratio. It can

be seen that with the increase of pressure ratio, the

heat ux on turbocharger compressor impeller surface

increases rapidly. When the pressure ratio is 4.6, the

maximum heat ux (252.8 kW/m

2

) is 9.9 times that at

the pressure ratio of 1.5 (25.6 kW/m

2

).

Traditional compressor impeller temperature ana-

lysis generally takes no account of heat transfer

between the solid and uid domains. It is acceptable

for low pressure ratio compressors. But at high pres-

sure ratio, the heat transfer between the solid and

300

350

400

450

500

1 2 3 4 5

Pressure ratio

T

e

m

p

e

r

a

t

u

r

e

o

f

i

m

p

e

l

l

e

r

(

K

)

outlet region

core region

Figure 4. Compressor impeller temperature against pressure

ratio.

Figure 5. Heat flux distribution on the impeller surface (positive value means heat transfers from solid to fluid, vice versa)

when pressure ratio is 3.4.

Zheng et al. 5

at Tsinghua University on October 4, 2012 pic.sagepub.com Downloaded from

uid domains increases, thus it can no longer be

ignored. A soliduid coupling method is applied to

obtain the compressor impeller temperature distribu-

tion directly.

Effect of temperature on compressor

impeller stress

The compressor wheel works under several loads,

including centrifugal, thermal and aerodynamic

loads. Figure 7 shows the eect of the aerodynamic

load on compressor impeller equivalent stress at dif-

ferent pressure ratios. The pressure distribution on the

impeller surface is also obtained by soliduid cou-

pling calculation, and then applied to the impeller

surface as the aerodynamic load. From Figure 7, it

is obvious that the eect of aerodynamic load on com-

pressor impeller is very small and it changes by less

than 0.25% at dierent pressure ratios. Therefore, the

inuence of aerodynamic load can be ignored when

the eect of thermal load on the strength of the impel-

ler is investigated.

This article focuses on the eect of thermal load on

the strength of the compressor impeller by comparing

results considering only centrifugal load with results

which consider both centrifugal and thermal load at

dierent pressure ratios. The compressor impeller sur-

face temperature is obtained by soliduid coupling

heat transfer calculation and taken as the boundary

condition of the nite element thermal analysis, which

is used to obtain the whole impeller temperature dis-

tribution as thermal load for this FEA structural ana-

lysis. The centrifugal load is obtained from the

rotational speed of the compressor impeller.

Figure 8 shows von Mises equivalent stress distri-

bution in the compressor impeller when the pressure

ratio is 3.4 only considering the centrifugal load.

Figure 9 shows the compressor impeller von Mises

equivalent stress distribution under both centrifugal

and thermal load at the same pressure ratio.

According to Figures 8 and 9, the maximum equiva-

lent stress in the impeller is located at the impeller

core, with values of 286 and 291 MPa, respectively.

Viewing the numerical values and the distribution

there is little dierence. After considering thermal

load, compressor impeller equivalent stress is approxi-

mately 2% higher. The stress caused by centrifugal

load takes up to 98% of the whole stress.

Figure 10 shows the compressor impeller maximum

von Mises equivalent stress against pressure ratio

when considering only centrifugal load and also cen-

trifugal and thermal loads. Figure 10 also provides the

ultimate tensile strength (UTS) of the aluminum alloy

LD7 at dierent temperature and that at 293 K. The

UTS of the material is the material property that is

used to evaluate impeller strength. From Figure 10,

the compressor impeller stress increases with

0

50

100

150

200

250

300

1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5

Pressure ratio

H

e

a

t

f

l

u

x

(

k

W

/

m

2

)

Figure 6. Heat flux at the compressor impeller exit region

against pressure ratio.

50

100

150

200

250

300

350

400

450

1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5

Pressure ratio

T

h

e

v

o

n

M

i

s

e

s

e

q

u

i

v

a

l

e

n

t

s

t

r

e

s

s

a

t

c

o

r

e

r

e

g

i

o

n

(

M

P

a

)

Stress without aerodynamic load

Stress with aerodynamic load

Figure 7. The von Mises equivalent stress at the core region of the compressor impeller against pressure ratio.

6 Proc IMechE Part C: J Mechanical Engineering Science 0(0)

at Tsinghua University on October 4, 2012 pic.sagepub.com Downloaded from

increasing pressure ratio regardless of thermal load.

However, the percentage of compressor impeller stress

caused by thermal load does not increase with increas-

ing pressure ratio. Under dierent pressure ratio, it

only takes about 2% of the whole stress caused by

all loads. The stress caused by centrifugal load takes

up to 98% of the whole stress caused by all loads.

Therefore, the centrifugal load plays a dominant

role throughout the considered working conditions.

It can be seen from Figure 4 that the temperature

at the compressor impeller core raises with increasing

pressure ratio. When the pressure ratio is 4.6, the tem-

perature of at the impeller core is 379 K. At 293 K, the

UTS of the aluminum alloy LD7 is 412 MPa. At tem-

perature of 379 K, the UTS is 373 MPa, which is

90.5% of that at 293 K. From Figure 10, if UTS at

temperature of 293 K is used to evaluate compressor

impeller strength the maximum pressure ratio that

Figure 8. The von Mises equivalent stress of the compressor impeller under centrifugal load when pressure ratio is 3.4.

Figure 9. The von Mises equivalent stress of the compressor impeller under centrifugal and thermal loads when pressure ratio is 3.4.

Zheng et al. 7

at Tsinghua University on October 4, 2012 pic.sagepub.com Downloaded from

compressor impeller can bear will be 4.6. If the UTS at

dierent temperature is used to evaluate the compressor

impeller strength, considering the UTS decrease caused

by high temperature, the maximumpressure ratio which

the impeller can bear will decrease from 4.6 to 4.2. That

is, the temperature rise will lead to a decrease of the

UTS, which severely reduces the maximum pressure

ratio that compressor impeller can bear.

Ahigh pressure ratio turbocharger centrifugal com-

pressor impeller works under severe loads and its safety

margin is low. Therefore, it will be a risky design of the

impeller if nothing but centrifugal load is concerned

during the structural analysis. The eects of the ther-

mal load on the value or distribution of von Mises

equivalent stress is very small, but the temperature

rise leads to deteriorated material properties. That is,

the temperature is an important factor which should be

considered when evaluating the reliability of a com-

pressor impeller with high pressure ratio.

Conclusions and remarks

In this article, a soliduid coupling analysis method

was used to study the eects of the temperature

distribution on the reliability of a turbocharger

centrifugal compressor impeller under dierent pres-

sure ratio conditions (from low to high pressure

ratio). The main conclusions are as follows:

1. When the pressure ratio increases from 1.5 to 4.6,

the compressor impeller outlet temperature

increases from 318 to 432 K. Temperature at the

compressor impeller core increases from 313 to

379 K. With increasing pressure ratio, the inter-

action of aerodynamics and heat transfer between

air and impeller gets stronger. When pressure ratio

is 4.6, the maximum heat ux is 9.9 times of that at

a pressure ratio of 1.5. That is, solid-uid coupling

method to obtain the impeller temperature is

necessary at high pressure ratio.

2. The impeller stress is caused by centrifugal, thermal

and aerodynamic loads. At dierent pressure ratios,

the percentage of impeller stress caused by aero-

dynamic and thermal loads remain approximately

constant on the compressor impeller, at about

0.25% and 2%, respectively. The percentage of

impeller stress caused by thermal and aerodynamic

loads does not increasewithincreasingpressure ratio.

The stress caused by the centrifugal load plays an

absolutely dominant role from low to high pressure

ratio. That is, the eect of aerodynamic and thermal

loads can be ignored even at high pressure ratio.

3. At low pressure ratio, the temperature eect on

impeller strength and reliability can be ignored. At

high pressure ratio, however, the compressor impeller

works under stronger loads, with lower safety factor.

At the same time, the increase of compressor impeller

temperature deteriorates material properties (UTS).

Considering the UTS decreases as the temperature

increases, the maximum pressure ratio which the

compressor can bear decreases signicantly, from

4.6 to4.2. That is, it is necessary toconsider the eects

of the temperature on compressor impeller strength

and reliability at high pressure ratio.

Funding

This research was supported by the National Natural

Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51176087).

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50

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450

1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5

Pressure ratio

T

h

e

v

o

n

M

i

s

e

s

e

q

u

i

v

a

l

e

n

t

s

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c

o

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(

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a

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trifugal compressor by asymmetric flow controlpart I:

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Appendix

Notation

C specific heat capacity (J/kg/K)

E modulus of elasticity (GPa)

F

bx

body forces per unit volume acting

along the directions, x (N)

F

by

body forces per unit volume acting

along the directions, y (N)

F

bz

body forces per unit volume acting

along the directions, z (N)

G shear modulus (GPa)

m mass flow rate (m

3

/s)

n rotational speed (r/min)

T temperature (K)

T

0

initial temperature (K)

u displacement along the direction, x (m)

v displacement along the direction, y (m)

w displacement along the direction, z (m)

o thermal expansion coefficient (K

1

)

, shear strain

c normal strain

z thermal conductivity (W/m/K)

j Poissons ratio

, density (kg/m

3

)

o

b

ultimate tensile strength (MPa)

o normal stress (Pa)

t shear stress (Pa)

Subscripts

x, y, z Cartesian coordinates

max maximum

Zheng et al. 9

at Tsinghua University on October 4, 2012 pic.sagepub.com Downloaded from

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