Examination of propeller sound production using large eddy simulation

Jacob Keller, Praveen Kumar, Krishnan Mahesh

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27 Scopus citations


The flow field of a five-bladed marine propeller operating at design condition, obtained using large eddy simulation, is used to calculate the resulting far-field sound. The results of three acoustic formulations are compared, and the effects of the underlying assumptions are quantified. The integral form of the Ffowcs-Williams and Hawkings (FW-H) equation is solved on the propeller surface, which is discretized into a collection of N radial strips. Further assumptions are made to reduce FW-H to a Curle acoustic analogy and a point-force dipole model. Results show that although the individual blades are strongly tonal in the rotor plane, the propeller is acoustically compact at low frequency and the tonal sound interferes destructively in the far field. The propeller is found to be acoustically compact for frequencies up to 100 times the rotation rate. The overall far-field acoustic signature is broadband. Locations of maximum sound of the propeller occur along the axis of rotation both up and downstream. The propeller hub is found to be a source of significant sound to observers in the rotor plane, due to flow separation and interaction with the blade-root wakes. The majority of the propeller sound is generated by localized unsteadiness at the blade tip, which is caused by shedding of the tip vortex. Tonal blade sound is found to be caused by the periodic motion of the loaded blades. Turbulence created in the blade boundary layer is convected past the blade trailing edge leading to generation of broadband noise along the blade. Acoustic energy is distributed among higher frequencies as local Reynolds number increases radially along the blades. Sound source correlation and spectra are examined in the context of noise modeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number064601
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the United States Office of Naval Research (ONR) under ONR Grants N0014-14-1-0289 and N0014-14-1-0304 with Dr. Ki-Han Kim as technical monitor. The computations were made possible through the computing resources provided by the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, Mississippi on the Cray XE6, Copper and Garnet, of the High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP). The authors also acknowledge the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute at the University of Minnesota for providing resources that contributed to the research reported in this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Physical Society.


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