Discussion – Alien Signal or Radio Noise: Leveraging Turbomachinery

The Internet practically exploded early yesterday morning with talk of an extraterrestrial discovery after a signal was detected by a Russian telescope. The star in question, HD 164595 located a vast 95 light years away, sent out a strong radio spike that was picked up and sparked a boom of excitement. According to an article published by National Geographic, however, this signal may not be what it was first interpreted as.

Astronomers have pointed their radio telescopes towards the stars for over half a century, hoping to catch a glimmer of life beyond this planet. Short of a futuristic rocket ship, these telescopes seem to be the best bet for catching a peak of something out of this world. That is a main causStarse as to why this discovery is so tantalizing to both scientists and the rest of us earthlings. However, after further investigation, neither the Allen Telescope Array, commanded by the SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute, nor the Green Bank Telescope, used by the Breakthrough Listen project, turned up additional signals or observations.

Another issue that has risen according to this article is that the signal did not repeat and could have been caused by something else. A source on Earth, such as a faulty power supply, military transmission, or arcing electrical fence for example. Another possible explanation could be that gravity from another object in space amplified a weaker signal. That being said, it would appear that HD 164595 is similar in many ways to our sun. It is composed of the same ingredients, is approximately the same age and has at least one planet in its orbit. This would suggest that theoretically, it would be plausible for life to exist within this system.

It’s safe to say that most of us hope to have an answer to the question of whether there is civilization somewhere in the sweeping unknown. Here at SoftInWay, we may not have a futuristic rocket ship stashed away, but we do hope to one day play a role in assisting these scientists find theiRocket Engine Thingyr answer. Perhaps, one day, SoftInWay can design and provide guidance on the rocket engine turbopump that will help us soar into new discoveries and exploration. Until then, we’ll provide the tools and guidance suited towards present needs  and future goals. If your branch of work falls under the scope of aerospace, or if you find rockets as cool as we do, our upcoming webinar will interest you. It is being offered towards the end of September and provides an overview of rocket engine turbopumps, from preliminary blade design to CFD and rotor dynamics using our AxSTREAM® platform.


Feel free to click on the link below for the full article. What are your thoughts on the matter discussed in the article? Share your comments below!

Article Link – http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/08/seti-signal-sun-like-star-hercules-aliens-life-space-science/


Preliminary Design Explained

Thinker- 2-26-2015Companies utilize different principles to design new turbomachinery. A design exercise is an extremely complex task and requires knowledge of many design trade-offs. This article is intended to reveal preliminary design philosophy and clarify some mysteries in this fast solution method.

Let’s define a few terms first. Boundary conditions (BCs) are the inlet and outlet states of a working fluid. Design inputs are small number of variables that are necessary to begin the design exercise. SoftInWay identifies BCs, design mass flow rate, rotational speed, and a few dimensions as the design inputs. The Preliminary design is a tool for quickly assessing design outputs giving many sets of design inputs. The algorithm utilized in the Preliminary design tool is an inverse solver. Inverse solution in this context implies finding geometry of interest knowing a very few design inputs.

How stuff works? The whole process comes down to estimating losses in each component and then calculating fluid states and component geometry applying simple kinematics and conservation equations. Calculated geometry and states are used to find real losses from loss models. This loss model results are compared with the guessed values and the algorithm repeats until they agree. In a practical implementation, however, the solution scheme will be more comprehensive but underlying principle remains the same — design output heavily relies on the models.

Loss models are extremely important and they determine the range of applicability for an industrial code. The models are collective work of many scientists and designers. Usually, they are some empirical correlations serving large family of components and predicting real machine performance quite well. Can we trust the results? That raises a lot of concerns and skepticism. The predictions are as good as the models that describe the physical processes. Verification and validation plays vital role in the developing of the code. The industry trend is to rely on published scientific data as a first iteration and calibrate models while working on real projects. Range of applicability is determined for each empirical correlation. For example, the veteran of compressor design Ronald Aungier shows that his loss model with respect to return channel in centrifugal stage has good agreement with experiment (Figure 1). Therefore, Aungier’s model can be used for similar machines.

Figure 1 -- Loss in optimized return system design

Figure 1 — Loss in optimized return system design

Preliminary design space study — know your limits! When an aerodynamicist is given specification on a new piece of machinery, he/she does not know anything about all the details of the design. Preliminary design can quickly show achievable performance for the machine, estimate critical relationship between design inputs and outputs, and facilitate in determining trends and trade-offs. Design space is a set of many preliminary designs. Because inverse solver is fast, a designer can generate thousands of designs in the matter of eye blink. Moreover, set of mathematical statements and state-of-the art aerodynamic reasoning allows outputting three dimensional geometry for each preliminary design with properly sized components. Ultimately, exploring the design space will eliminate costly mistakes prior to detailed design is carried on.

Myths and misconceptions about preliminary design. Inverse solver does not solve potential flow problem. Inverse task does not perform boundary layer analysis. Preliminary design is not a Navier-Stoks solver. Inverse design is not a table look-up but utilizes empirical loss model in the tested and verified domain. At the same time, preliminary design is not a blade-to-blade analysis tool. Preliminary design is a good starting point for further detailed design and analysis including blade profiling, performance map generation, impeller design, structural analysis, and CFD. All the above can be accomplished within one integrated design environment such AxSTREAM.

Good luck with your challenge!



  • http://www.dreamstime.com/
  • Aungier R. Centrifugal Compressors. The strategy for aerodynamic design and analysis. ASME Press. New York. 2000

TBT Webinar – Developing Reliable, High Performance, Advanced 3D Blades

It’s Throwback Thursday which means we have another one of our favorite past webinars! This week’s is called Developing Reliable, High Performance, Advanced 3D Blades. It was the first of three in a special Steam Turbine Series

Since 1884, steam turbines have been exemplary turbomachines that have improved throughout the years with modern design advances. As steam turbines became common, the competition heated up and today efficiency continues to be a hot topic. One trending technique that makes steam turbines most efficient is advanced 3D blading. Continue reading “TBT Webinar – Developing Reliable, High Performance, Advanced 3D Blades”

Cavitation Problems

Cavitation is not welcome in pumps. One of the most problematic effects of cavitation is the reduction in performance, but this is not the only problem! Cavitation can also cause damage to blades and create noise while the pump is working.

Perhaps, the most universal problem caused by cavitation is the material damage that bubbles can cause when they collapse in the vicinity of a solid surface. The problem is complex because it involves the details of a complicated unsteady flow combined with the reaction of the particular blade material. Continue reading “Cavitation Problems”

Calculating Sections in Steam Turbines

9 Section Axial Steam Turbine
9 Section Axial Steam Turbine

What’s a better way to begin our brand new turbomachinery blog then by addressing a common design question about something we are very familiar with – steam turbines?

Many times the question, “How many calculation sections do you recommend for the (insert any number here)-stage steam turbine?” travels through our tech support emails and we always answer our clients with what we think is best practice. Continue reading “Calculating Sections in Steam Turbines”