Pump design engineers face multiple challenges when creating new and better products. Pumps have to operate well over a range of conditions and run reliably over long lifetimes with minimal downtime for repairs. All pump manufacturers also need to meet more stringent government legislated efficiency requirements by 2020. Traditional design methods have relied heavily on testing physical prototypes. This can be expensive and time consuming, with multiple cycles of design/redesign and testing for each new product.
As part of their drive to meet these requirements, Taco Comfort Solutions, a manufacturer of heating and cooling equipment, accessories and systems, uses STAR-CCM+ software from Siemens PLM Software in their design process. This software enables them to create a digital prototype of their design and simulate the three-dimensional flow in the pump using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). After importing the geometry from SolidWorks, all of the meshing, simulation and analysis is then performed in STAR-CCM+ (see figure 1).
For each pump design, the CFD simulation gives a full, three-dimensional representation of the flow and pressures within the pump housing. Alterations to the design, such as changes to the impeller, are easily assessed by changing the geometry: the software then automatically re-runs the analysis. Once the engineering team has three or four designs which yield acceptable digital prototype performance, they move on to building and testing their physical prototypes. Exploring the performance of numerous digital prototypes brings significant cost and time savings, enabling a high probability of success in a single phase of physical prototype testing, and ensuring a short development time window. Using this software for virtual testing has sped up Taco’s design workflow and reduced the costs associated with physical testing.
Figure 1: A pump model is designed in SolidWorks and imported into STAR-CCM+ (a), where it is meshed (b) and data such as internal flow and pressure are predicted (c).