Passive, heat actuated devices can offer simple and energy-efficient options for a variety of end uses. An ejector pump is one such device that provides reasonable pressure head with no electrical input or moving parts. Useful for a wide range of applications from nuclear reactor cooling to vapor compression in waste-heat-driven heat pumping and work recovery systems, the flow phenomena inside an ejector must be understood to achieve improvements in component design and efficiency. In an effort to obtain insights into the flow phenomena inside an ejector, and to evaluate the effectiveness of commonly used computational tools in predicting these conditions, this study presents a set of shadowgraph images of flow inside a large-scale air ejector, and compares them to computational simulations of the same flow. On-design and off-design conditions are considered where the suction flow is choked and not choked, respectively. The computational simulations used for comparison apply k-ε RNG and k-ω SST turbulence models available in ANSYS FLUENT to 2D, locally-refined rectangular meshes for ideal gas air flow. Experimental and computational results show that on-design ejector operation is predicted with reasonable accuracy, but accuracy with the same models is not adequate at off-design conditions. This is attributed to an inability of turbulence models to predict shock/expansion interaction with the motive jet boundary, as well as the strength and position of flow features. Exploration of local flow features shows that the k-ω SST model predicts the location of flow features, as well as global inlet mass flow rates, with greater accuracy. It is concluded that to provide a rigorous validation of turbulence models for the application of modeling ejector flow, it is necessary to rely on off-design data where more complex phenomena occur, such as flow separation, strong boundary layer/shock interaction, and unsteady flow. Such validation will help refine turbulence models for future ejector design purposes, and allow for more efficient ejector operation.

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