When Daikin Industries in Japan set out to develop an innovative fan for a new line of air-conditioners, engineers wanted to use 3D inverse-design technology instead of standard CAD software. In the traditional approach, geometry is changed iteratively using CFD analysis and physical tests until the best flow conditions are obtained. But in the inverse approach, geometry is computed for a certain optimum flow distribution, where the loading distribution is specified and then the blade geometry is computed.
This inverse approach is a more systematic way to handle aerodynamic-turbomachinery because once the input specification is chosen for a given criteria (such as minimum loss, cavitation suppression, or secondary flow suppression), it can be used to rapidly generate new prototypes. The 3D inverse design technology was provided by TURBOdesign Suite from Advanced Design Technology in London. ADT supplies tailor-made software, design services in turbomachinery, and aerodynamic design codes that let designers control blade design.
“TURBOdesign1 had already improved efficiency for our compressors, so we expected it would also work for fans,” says researcher Toru Iwata at Daikin Industries’ Environmental Technology Laboratory.
TURBOdesign1 is currently the only non-proprietary software for designing turbomachinery that uses 3D inverse design technology. Engineers found the software so easy to use, they needed almost no training. Users merely had to understand the basics of fan design. “We were almost immediately productive using the software for our fan design,” says Iwata. “Then, it took only about a year to become fully versed in all its capabilities. The software helped us reduce development time and slash material use, as well as develop new models of high-efficiency fans.”