Rim-driven hub-less fans have newly emerged as the most compact type of axial flow fans, which permits flexible configuration arrangements, large relative flow area and low-noise level operation. However, previous publications on rim-driven axial flow fans are rarely found in the open literature, and the flow mechanism and design principle of such promising fans haven’t yet been well-understood and established. This paper has been focused on a preliminary study of the rim-driven axial flow fan design and flow mechanism. A design method of the rim-driven fans is proposed on the basis of the isolated airfoil scheme and the variable circulation rule. It is further incorporated into a FORTRAN code and suited for designing the rim-driven hub-less fans of low-pressure levels.
For validation purpose, a conventional hub-type fan is redesigned with the developed method and its flow behavior and overall performance are investigated numerically. A parametric study on the designed fan is further conducted respectively for the tangential velocity difference at mean span, circulation exponent and sweep angle and their influence on the fan flow characteristics and overall performance are explored and highlighted. On such a basis, the developed design method for the rim-driven axial flow fan is further improved. In comparison with the conventionally designed fan at identical rotating speed, significant comprehensive gains are arising from the redesigned fan of hub-less configuration: the overall pressure rise and static pressure efficiency is enhanced respectively by 6.2% and 11.5%, whereas the diameter of the fan is reduced by 12.5% simultaneously. It is demonstrated that the rim-driven hub-less configuration is promising for the enhancing the fan overall performance with even reduced dimensions.