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CFD Streamlines Fan Design for New Marine Corps Amphibious Vehicle
Posted Fri February 11, 2005 @05:18PM
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Application By the end of the decade, the Marines will go into combat riding in General Dynamics Amphibious Systems’ new Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) — a hybrid tank/boat designed to carry 17 combat equipped marines and a three-person crew over both land and sea at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.

The contract to improve the environmental control system (ECS) that circulates and cools the cabin air was won by Fairchild Controls Corp. The company has been supplying sophisticated pneumatic, hydraulic and cooling systems to the aerospace and defense industries for 40 years.

The challenge was to improve airflow and minimize operational noise while remaining within a strict budget. In order to meet the deadline for delivering combat-ready EFVs in 2008, Fairchild Controls also needed to design, test and qualify the improved ECS in just 14 months.


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Because the design of the EFV itself was already set, the basic size or shape of the ECS could not be altered. Specific parameters for airflow were set based on crew and electronic cooling needs on a 125ºF day. In addition, the system needed to operate at a noise level the human ear could tolerate for a full day without protection. It was decided that the best way to improve ECS performance was by replacing the original model’s fast but loud vane axial fan with a slower, mixed-flow fan with both rotating and stationary elements. CFX software was used to design the fan.

The CFX-BladeGen, CFX-TurboGrid and CFX-TASCflow products were used to create and analyze 3-D models of candidate fan designs for comparing various combinations of blade shape, blade number and blade height, and to select a design that met all of the performance objectives. Engineers were able to simulate performance and explore what-if scenarios under a wide range of simulated operating conditions.

The selected design’s geometry was imported from CFX-BladeGen directly into its CAD system as an IGES file to create a solid digital model. A working prototype was assembled and its performance compared to the data generated in the simulations. The physical prototype performed precisely as the CFX tools predicted it would, and analysts were absolutely confident that the final product would also perform as it was supposed to, even under the demanding conditions the Marine Corps would subject it to.

CFX enabled Fairchild Controls to produce a fan that created just 85 decibels of sound — well within the limits of comfort and safety — without compromising the environmental control system’s ability to keep the EFV’s crew compartment adequately cool. Moreover, CFX streamlined the design and test cycle significantly by keeping the design process in house and allowing Fairchild Controls to deliver an affordable final product in just 14 months.

mixed-flow fan
CFX analysis of mixed-flow fan for cabin cooling in the Marine's new EFV

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