CFD Simulation of Urea Evaporation in STAR-CCM+
Abstract: Diesel engines produce large amounts of nitrogen oxides (NOX) while running. Nitrogen oxides are highly toxic and also contribute towards the formation of tropospheric ozone. Increasingly stringent legislation regarding the amount of nitrogen oxides that are allowed to be emitted from diesel-powered vehicles has forced manufacturers of diesel-engines to develop after-treatment systems that reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides in the exhaust. One of the main components in such a system is selective catalytic reduction (SCR), where nitrogen oxides are reduced to diatomic nitrogen and water with the help of ammonia. A vital part of this process is the spraying of a urea-water-solution (UWS), which is needed in order to produce the reducing agent ammonia. UWS spraying introduces the risk of solid deposits (such as biuret, ammelide and ammeline) forming in the after-treatment system, should the flow conditions be unfavourable. Risk factors include high temperatures, but also low dynamics and high thickness of the resulting liquid film that forms as the UWS spray hits the surfaces of the after-treatment system. It is thus essential that manufacturers of SCR after-treatment systems have correct data on how much UWS that should be sprayed into the exhaust for any given flow condition. Experimental tests are thoroughly used to assess this but are very expensive and are thus limited to prototype testing during product development. When assessing a wider range of concepts and geometries early on in the product development stage, simulation tools such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD) are used instead. One of the most computationally heavy processes to simulate within a SCR after-treatment system is the UWS spray and its interaction with surfaces inside the after-treatment system, where correct prediction of the formation of solid deposits are of great importance. Most CFD models used for this purpose hold a relatively good level of accuracy and are utilized throughout the whole industry where SCR aftertreatment is applied. Despite this, these models are limited in the fact that they are only able to cover timescales in the scope of seconds to minutes while using a tolerable amount of computational power. However, the time spectrum for solid deposit formation is minutes to hours. Scania is one of Sweden’s biggest developers of SCR after-treatment, with the technology being incorporated directly into its silencers. AVL Fire is the main UWS spray simulation tool for engineers at Scania at the moment. One major drawback of using AVL Fire for UWS spray simulations is that it is deemed too time-consuming to set up new cases and too unstable during simulation, which makes it too costly in terms of expensive engineering hours. This project has investigated the potential of using STAR-CCM+ for UWS spray simulations at Scania instead. A standard method has been evaluated, as well as parameters that will prove useful in further investigations of a potential speedup method. The studied method in STAR-CCM+ is easy to setup and the simulation process is robust and stable. Various other perks come from using STAR-CCM+ as well, such as: a user-friendly interface, easy and powerful mesh-generation and great post-process capabilities. Several different parameters have been investigated for their impact on the studied method, such as mesh refinement of the spray injector area and the number of parcels injected every time-step through the spray injector (simply put the resolution of the spray). A possible speedup by freezing the momentum equations when allowed and lowering the amount of inner iterations has also been investigated. A handful of operating conditions have been studied for two different geometries. The attained simulation results display correlations with physical measurements, but further assessment for identifying the risk of solid deposit needs to be performed on the studied cases to assess the full accuracy of solid deposit prediction of the studied method. Recommendations for future work includes fully implementing and evaluating the speedup method available for spray simulations in STAR-CCM+ as well as directly comparing how the accuracy and performance of the method relates to that of the method used in AVL Fire for spray simulations.
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