CFD Simulation Enhances Machine Efficiency

On top of intensifying global competition, shifting consumer preferences and ever-shrinking time-to-market schedules, the growing need to address climate change is increasing  the pressure on businesses to  improve their machine efficiency and effectiveness with greater urgency than ever before. To meet these challenges, companies are finding that they need to revamp their product lines or even develop totally new products. Pump and fan manufacturers especially are seeing a need to for rapid innovation and design breakthroughs to increase machine efficiency.

Governments are challenging manufacturers with increasingly stringent regulations — and not just for transportation. For example, new pump efficiency standards from the U.S. Department of Energy will require the least-efficient 25 percent of pumps in today’s market to be redesigned to reduce energy losses. The new rooftop air conditioner standards increase minimum efficiency by 25–30 percent as of 2023. Since electricity can make up to 85 percent of the overall lifecycle costs of a pump, savings from these standards will be huge. In fact, these are two of the three biggest energy-savings standards US DOE history. And there are more in the pipeline.

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Source: US Department of Energy press release

What is a manufacturer of pumps and rotating machinery to do?

Innovation and design optimization at the component level is important but no longer sufficient. Many of those gains have already been made. Engineers looking to improve machine efficiency (or reduce fuel/power consumption) must not only optimize the performance of each component by itself, but also how the components operate in tandem with many other components in the system. For example, the new pump standards change the way pumps will deal with variable flows. Instead of using valves to control flow rate, and consequently waste a significant amount of energy, pumps will need to shift to a variable speed drive that matches the pump output to meet only the required load.  This can reduce energy consumption by up to 50 percent or more, but it changes nearly everything about the pump! The engineering challenge will be to balance the complex, and often conflicting, trade-offs which arise, and do so without compromising essential attributes of the complete system such as durability, reliability, safety, cost, sustainability and performance.

While engineering experience is essential to the design process and physical testing required for final validation, only simulation applied throughout the development cycle can achieve these new objectives. There are limitations to physical test and prototyping that go beyond budgets and human resources. Often it is impossible to replicate the real life conditions that the machines will experience throughout the product life cycle in a cost effective and timely way.

CP Pumps used engineering simulation to improve machine efficiency for its MKP pump product line

CP Pumps Used Simulation to Speed Development and Improve Efficiency

For example, Switzerland-based CP Pumps needed to reduce power consumption, achieve high efficiency and lower maintenance for their line of MKP pumps. But because they were forced to rely on experimental data collected from physical prototypes on a hydraulic test bench their development process was far too time consuming and costly. By adopting engineering simulation, they were able to rapidly and cost effectively create multiple designs, then compare and validate them. For example, impellers designed using CFD dramatically improved the pump’s hydraulic characteristics. Other designs that initially looked promising proved inadequate following CFD assessment, so the cost and time to build and test prototypes were avoided. In the end, CP Pumps was able to speed its product development by three times while improving pump efficiency by up to 15 percent.

CFD simulation improved hydraulic performance for this MKP pump

CFD simulation improved hydraulic performance for this MKP pump

Learn More in the Webinar

ansys webinarsGiven global competition and new energy standards, improving pump performance is more important than ever. Learn how to use engineering simulation to improve your pump efficiency in this concise 30-minute on demand webinar, Enhancing Pump and Fan Performance and Reliability.