Air-cooled generators have been fulfilling a wide range of applications recently. Concurrent with a low cost target, the market demands high efficiency and high performance designs. Windage and friction losses, caused by rotor rotation and cooling gas flowing through the ventilation circuits, represents one of the largest loss components in air-cooled generators. Carefully managing the windage and friction loss is critical to ensure the success of air-cooled generators. This work is motivated by development of air-cooled high-speed generators. In such applications, the flow inside the annular gap between the rotor and stator is highly turbulent. The flow characteristics are not fully understood. Physics-based correlations, which calculate the windage and friction losses, don’t exist in the literature. The purpose of this work is to develop such transfer functions for machine design. Numerical simulations, using commercial CFD code FLUENT 6.0 and Design of Experiment (DOE) method, have been carried out to study the flow characteristics in the annular space between the cylindrical rotor and stator. All simulations were performed using an axial-symmetric model, along with RNG k-ε turbulence model and enhanced wall treatment. In the study, the generator rated speed ranged from 5000 to 20000 rpm; the Taylor number ranged from 1750 to 78000; and the Mach number ranged from 0.25 to 1.0. The effect of axial flow on windage loss was carefully studied. Axial flow exhibited a strong impact on windage loss. The CFD results are rationalized. Transfer functions for windage and axial friction losses are created. They provide a better basis to explore the design space at the early stage of the product development.

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