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Location of Vortex Formation Threshold at Suction Inlets near Ground Planes – Ascending and Descending Conditions

Authors: Wei Hua Ho


Vortices can develop in intakes of turbojet and turbo fan aero engines during high power operation in the vicinity of solid surfaces. These vortices can cause catastrophic damage to the engine. The factors determining the formation of the vortex include both geometric dimensions as well as flow parameters. It was shown that the threshold at which the vortex forms or disappears is also dependent on the initial flow condition (i.e. whether a vortex forms after stabilised non vortex flow or vice-versa). A computational fluid dynamics study was conducted to determine the difference in thresholds between the two conditions. This is the first reported numerical investigation of the “memory effect". The numerical results reproduce the phenomenon reported in previous experimental studies and additional factors, which had not been previously studied, were investigated. They are the rate at which ambient velocity changes and the initial value of ambient velocity. The former was found to cause a shift in the threshold but not the later. It was also found that the varying condition thresholds are not symmetrical about the neutral threshold. The vortex to no vortex threshold lie slightly further away from the neutral threshold compared to the no vortex to vortex threshold. The results suggests that experimental investigation of vortex formation threshold performed either in vortex to no vortex conditions, or vice versa, solely may introduce mis-predictions greater than 10%.

Keywords: unsteady flow, Jet Engine Test Cell, Inlet Vortex

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