Inlet flow distortion is a non-uniform total pressure, total temperature, or swirl (flow angularity) condition at an aircraft engine inlet. Inlet distortion is a critical consideration in modern fan and compressor design. This is especially true as the industry continues to increase the efficiency and operating range of air breathing gas turbine engines. The focus of this paper is to evaluate the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Harmonic Balance (HB) solver in STAR-CCM+ as a reduced order method for capturing inlet distortion as well as the associated distortion transfer and generation. New methods for quantitatively describing and analyzing distortion transfer and generation are investigated. The geometry used is the rotor 4 fan geometry, consisting of one rotor and one stator. The inlet boundary condition is a 90-degree sector total pressure distortion profile with total pressure and swirl held constant. Multiple HB simulations with varying mode combinations and distortion intensities are analyzed and compared against full annulus Unsteady Reynolds Averaged Navier-Stokes (URANS) simulations. Best practices and recommendations for the implementation of the HB solver are given. The pre-existing Society of Automotive Engineers Aerospace Recommended Practice (SAE-ARP) 1420b descriptors are demonstrated to be inadequate for the purposes of analyzing distortion transfer and generation on a stage-to-stage basis. New implementations of Fourier methods are presented as an alternative to the SAE-ARP 1420b descriptors. These Fourier descriptors are shown to describe distortion transfer and generation to a higher degree of fidelity than the SAE-ARP 1420b descriptors. These new descriptors are demonstrated on the analysis of full annulus URANS and HB simulations. The HB solver is shown to be capable of capturing distortion transfer, generation and performance degradation. Recommendations for the optimal implementation of the HB method are given.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





turbomachinery, Fourier, Fourier analysis, harmonic balance, computational fluid dynamics, CFD, SAE-ARP 1420b, distortion, inlet distortion, distortion transfer, distortion generation, rotor 4, AFRL