In this paper, a low order model for predicting performance of radial turbocharger turbines is presented. The model combines an unsteady quasi-three dimensional CFD method with multiple one-dimensional meanline impeller solvers. The new model preserves the critical volute geometry features, which is crucial for the accurate prediction of the wave dynamics and retains effects of the rotor inlet circumferential non-uniformity. It also still maintains the desirable properties of being easy to set up and fast to run.

The model has been validated against a experimentally validated full three-dimensional URANS solver. The loss model in the meanline model is calibrated by the full 3D RANS solver under the steady flow states. The unsteady turbine performance under different inlet pulsating flow conditions predicted by the model was compared with the results of the full 3D URANS solver. Good agreement between the two was obtained with a speed up ratio of about four orders of magnitude (∼104) for the low order model.

The low order model was then used to investigate the effect of different pulse wave amplitudes and frequencies on the turbine cycle averaged performance. For the cases tested, it was found that compared with quasi-steady performance, the unsteady effect of the pulsating flow has a relatively small impact on the cycle averaged turbine power output and the cycle averaged mass flow capacity while it has a large influence on the cycle averaged ideal power output and cycle averaged efficiency. This is related to the wave dynamics inside the volute and the detailed mechanisms responsible are discussed in this paper.

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