Scalloping of radial and mixed flow turbocharger turbine rotors has been commonplace for many years as a means of inertia reduction and stress relief. The interest in turbine rotor inertia reduction is driven by transient loading requirements of turbocharged internal combustion engines, as this is a key factor in the time taken to meet transient engine torque requirements. Due to the high density materials used in turbine rotors, any material removal from the turbine wheel has a significant impact on turbocharger inertia, and thus the transient response of the engine.
It is well known that scalloping not only reduces inertia, but also efficiency. This study aimed to identify if it was possible to produce a new scallop design which reduced the scalloping efficiency penalty without increasing inertia, or compromising mechanical constraints. This was carried out with the aim of developing design recommendations for scalloping where a complete minimization of inertia is not the design goal.
A multipoint, multi-physics numerical optimization, with constraints on inertia and back disc stress, was carried out to determine what efficiency benefit could be realized by aerodynamically designing mixed flow turbine scalloping. An efficiency benefit was identified across the entire turbocharger operating line, with increased benefit at low engine load, whilst not exceeding the design constraints. Scalloping losses for the baseline design were found to be greatest at low engine load, where the turbine experienced low expansion ratio, mass flow and speed. This explains why an aerodynamic redesign yields the greatest benefit under those operating conditions. These performance predictions were experimentally validated on the cold flow test rig at Queen’s University Belfast, with good agreement between simulated and measured data.
To conclude the study, a detailed loss audit was carried out to identify key loss generating flow structures, and to understand how changes in geometry affected the formation and development of these flow structures throughout the passage. A large vortex which entered the passage from the scalloped region and interacted with the tip leakage vortex along the suction surface of the blade was identified as the main source of loss due to scalloping. The optimized design was found to better control the location of entry of this vortex into the blade passage, thus reducing the associated loss, and facilitating a performance improvement. Geometric design guidelines were then proposed based on these findings.