Radial fans for industrial applications are very commonly operated with a spiral casing, also called volute. The function of the volute is to collect the air from the impellers outlet and to transport it to the fans outlet. In the volute the tangential velocity component of the impeller is transformed in a straight velocity component at the volute’s outlet. In the volute the static pressure is increased according to the cross sectional area of the volute. When the flow exits the impeller the flow rate is given basically by the radial velocity component times the outlet area of the impeller. In the volute, however, the flow rate is basically given by the tangential velocity component at the impeller exit and in the volute considering the conservation of angular momentum. Hence, there is only one operating point, i.e. the design point of the volute, where the flow rate in the impeller matches the flow rate in the volute. In the literature the design of the volute is performed at the design point only and the cross sectional area of the volute is usually computed distributing the flow rate linearly from the tongue to the exit of the volute.

In this work an extended theoretical approach was developed considering the design point flow rate and off design flow rates. At the design point, the properties of the specific impeller, i.e. it’s radial and its tangential velocity components at the impeller’s exit are considered to design the volute. Furthermore, also the off-design characteristics of the impeller, i.e. its radial and tangential velocity components are considered in the design process of the volute. The flow rates in the impeller and in the volute match only at the design point, at off-design points the flow rates in the impeller and in the volute are different. This has an important impact on the design process of impeller – volute units. Each volute has also to be matched to the specific impeller.

In the numerical part a usual volute was designed considering the properties of a particular impeller. The performance of the volute and of complete fan was investigated with the commercial Navier–Stokes Solver ANSYS CFX. A detailed analysis of the results and the flow conditions in volute as well as in the impeller-volute unit and a comparison with the results predicted by the new volute theory is given.

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