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Research paper

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POWER2014

July 28-31, 2014, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

POWER2014-32069

NUMERICAL SIMULATION OF A COMPRESSED AIR DRIVEN TESLA TURBINE

Shaheer Ahmed

Air University Islamabad, Pakistan

This paper presents the Computational Fluid Dynamics

turbine, much as it is difficult to find an efficient

analysis of a Tesla bladeless turbine using compressed

air as the working fluid. Multiple flow configurations are diffuser for pumps and compressors. Thus the

analyzed using both Laminar and the turbulent efficiencies achieved are not as high as it might get

behaviors. The loading coefficient and the efficiency of achieved. This has hindered wide use of this turbine.

turbines is evaluated for both the 2D and 3D cases.

But due to the ability of the turbine to work with

Multiples disc is a viable option but it is been observed

they result in loss in performance for the laminar and high viscosity fluids and those containing solid

turbulent simulations. In addition the inflection point of particles, it is believed that the turbine will be used

the laminar flow vanishes in the turbulent flow; the work in the future[2].

presented is an initial step towards the realization of

The turbine can work with both laminar or turbulent

Tesla turbine

flow, each having its own advantages. The Tesla

turbine can be used as a pump, a gas compressor or a

INTRODUCTION

turbine which can work with liquids, vapors or gases.

The Tesla turbine is a unique turbine as it

The turbine is designed in such a way that the nozzle

does not have blades but instead consists of flat,

imparts high velocity fluid nearly tangential to the

parallel, co-rotating discs that are spaced a small

discs. As the fluid flows past the discs it transfers

distance apart on a shaft. As the fluid flows in-

momentum and hence begins to flow in a spiral

between the discs it transfers its momentum to the

shape towards the centre of the disc. At the centre of

discs, which consequently results in shaft torque and

the disc, close to the shaft, the discs contain holes or

power. Tesla was able to design, fabricate and test

slot through the fluid gets exhausted. While working

the turbine, but could not get it incorporated into the

as pump or compressor the fluid flows in reverse,

industry[1].

from the holes at the centre of the discs, the fluid

In the years that followed efforts were made to find

flows in an outward spiral and is finally exhausted

the efficiency and performance of this turbine, both

through a diffuser. The shaft delivers power in the

analytically and experimentally. Most investigations

turbine, and is powered when being used as a pump

focused on the type of fluid, the size of the turbine or

or compressor.

the velocity of the fluid, while some were on the

The efficiency depends on the shaft speed, the inner

overall performance. It was found that the efficiency

and outer radii of the discs, the disc gap, the fluid

of the Tesla turbine rotor can be higher than, if not

properties and flow rate. The efficiency of the nozzle

equal to conventional rotors. However, there has

and the cooperation between the nozzle and the discs transition and relaminarisation from turbulent to

also greatly affect the performance of the turbine. laminar."

The interest in the turbine was rekindled in the fifties

THE COMPUTATIONAL MODEL AND MESH

and a lot of research has been carried out on the GENERATION

turbine since then. Most research was done to The dimensions and design of Warren Rice's

analytically model the flow between the discs. experimental work were followed. Analysis on three

Efficiencies can be very high, but are limited due to models with comparable dimensions are made:

the losses occurring at the inlet and outlet of the ● "ratio of radii: r1/r2 = 6.06", "ratio of disc

rotor. The nozzles need to be long, but are not very gap to outer radius: r1/b = 200", "angle of

efficient. Due to this reason and more the actual nozzle is β = 20°" and Reb = ω.b2/v = 24"

efficiency is lower than what would be expected. ● Solving the Navier Stokes equations for

steady, incompressible flow for both laminar

COMPUTATIONAL FLUID DYNAMICS and turbulent cases and the two dimensional

To examine the fluid flow inside the Tesla turbine Ax symmetric Swirl and three dimensional

computational fluid dynamics is used using Fluent[3] approaches are also used.

and Gambit[4]. Unlike other turbines the Tesla

turbine uses smooth discs instead of blades. For this

paper the effects of the following parameters are

observed: loading coefficient, efficiency, degree of

reaction vs. flow rate. The rotational speed is kept

constant while the flow rate is varied; this is done to

mimic a virtual brake. The actual flow is in the

transitional regime and so both laminar and turbulent

flows are studied separately to find the effects of

each. This works is a first step towards analysis of

such a turbine using CFD tools. Firstly a simple case

of flow between two co-rotating discs is considered,

which is later enhanced to include the effects of the

outlet and finally a 3D model is analyzed to

incorporate the effects of the nozzle. Figure 1: Mesh Geometry 2D Case

Looking at Tesla's American patents a lot of research The software package Fluent was used, which works

was carried out during the sixties and seventies. A lot on the Finite Volume Method. Using the double

of work was done considering the flow to be laminar precision characteristic the following commands

and incompressible and very little work was done on were given:

the turbulent flow. The flow depends on the Mach ● Segregated and implicit solver

and Reynolds numbers. The different flows ● Discretization: PRESTO!

considered are: "laminar, turbulent, forward ● SIMPLE for Pressure-Velocity coupling

● For Momentum Second Order Upwind[5]

● "The standard k-ε model with near wall

treatment" was solved for the turbulent case

● y+<5 must be kept true for near the wall

BOUNDARY CONDITIONS

● The inlet was set as velocity-inlet boundary.

For the turbulent case the "turbulence

intensity is set to 5%", while

Figure 2: Velocity Magnitude

"nondimensional turbulent kinetic energy is

set to k* = 0.00375 and turbulent dissipation

rate is ε* = 2.6953e-4"

● Pressure-outlet boundary was selected for the

outlet with gauge pressure set as 0

(atmospheric pressure)

● The walls are adiabatic and discs and main

body have a no slip condition and are

"rotating at 0.005"

● Figure 3: Infection of Radial Velocity

CONVERGENCE CRITERIA

Different models took different times to solve

ranging from 4 minutes for a model having about

seven thousand quadrilateral cells to 4 days for the

model with close to 2.5 million cells (3D).

LAMINAR CASE

For the laminar case it is noticed that the flow has

very high acceleration at the inlet and outlet of the Figure 4: pressure distribution

turbine. Inflections are noticed on the profile of the

radial velocity at the centre of the disc. It is also

observed that at the middle of the gap the total

Characteristics curves of the turbine under the

pressure remains the same, this shows that no work laminar solution case are shown below

is done here. However, close to the walls a change in

pressure is observed which shows that work is done.

It is further observed that the loading coefficient and

flow rate are directly related. Thus with increasing

flow rate, the efficiency increases for a instant,

followed by a continuous fall.

Figure 10: Loading Coefficient, Turbulent Case Figure 12: Loading Coefficient Turbulent Case

Figure 11: Efficiency Turbulent Case Figure 13: Comparison with Schmid[6]

It is also observed that the outlet causes a drop in

efficiency; this can be attributed to the fact that there

is a change in the flow direction and a change in

area. Considering the effects of the nozzles it is

evaluated that the losses are not very significant

while comparing loading coefficient and efficiency.

It is inferred that the torques increases for high

velocity flow. It is also noticed that the tangential

component of velocity remains the same from the

inlet to the outlet due to the high velocity magnitude.

The values are comparable with Schmidt[6]

Figure 14: Path lines covered by velocity magnitude

of nozzle. They suggest that the losses are not very

Figure 10: Loading Coefficient, Turbulent Case Figure 12: Loading Coefficient Turbulent Case

Figure 11: Efficiency Turbulent Case Figure 13: Comparison with Schmid[6]

It is also observed that the outlet causes a drop in

efficiency; this can be attributed to the fact that there

is a change in the flow direction and a change in

area. Considering the effects of the nozzles it is

evaluated that the losses are not very significant

while comparing loading coefficient and efficiency.

It is inferred that the torques increases for high

velocity flow. It is also noticed that the tangential

component of velocity remains the same from the

inlet to the outlet due to the high velocity magnitude.

The values are comparable with Schmidt[6]

Figure 14: Path lines covered by velocity magnitude

of nozzle. They suggest that the losses are not very

high when loading coefficient and efficiency are be concluded that multiple disc turbines are

compared with each other viable, but have low efficiencies for both

laminar and turbulent flow. The efficiency of

the simulated flow between the gap is lower

than what is experimentally proposed, this

could be due to the fact that the effects of the

nozzle are neglected. However, the

efficiencies of the 3D model and

experimental models are comparable. The

turbine is applicable for a low range of power

where other turbo machinery have low

Figure 15: Loading Coefficient, Turbulent case efficiencies.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The support from Air University and Higher

Education of Pakistan is acknowledged.

REFERENCES

[1] North, Richard, C.: „An Investigation of the Tesla Turbine”.

Thesis, University of Maryland, 1969

[2] Tesla Nikola: „Turbine”. Patent no: 1,061,206., United

States Patent Office, Nikola Tesla, of New York N. Y.,

Patented May 6, 1913;

[3] Fluent Inc.: Fluent/UNS/Rampant.„User’s Guide”, 2000

Figure 16: Efficiency, Turbulent Case [4] Fluent Inc.: Gambit. „User’s Guide”. 2000.

[5] Rice, Warren: „Tesla Turbomachinery”. Conference

CONCLUSION: Proceedings of the 4th International Tesla Symposium,

Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,

The actual flow is in the transition regime

September 22‑ 25, 1991

and so is very difficult to simulate with CFD [6] Schmidt D. D.: „Final Report on Biomass Boundary Layer

tools. However, the results show different Turbine Power “ Energy Innovations Small Grant, EISG Final

Report, Appendix A FAR 00-06, 2002

aspects and attributes of the flow. It is found

that the inflection point of the laminar flow

vanishes in the turbulent flow, as the

turbulent flow has a balance in the axial

direction. Experimentally the velocity

profiles cannot be measured because of the

very small disc spacing, only the static

pressures at a point can be found, but CFD

can overcome this problem. Due to the high

swirl velocity and accelerations it becomes

difficult to get a good solution, but with more

iteration a solution can be converged to one

which can demonstrate physical facts. It can

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