Two blade curvatures representative of those found in automotive fans are compared. Measured performances are analyzed for forward and backward curved blades, either with or without heat-exchangers placed in front of them. The backward fan demonstrated good efficiency but poor acoustics, whereas it is the contrary for the forward fan. Investigations are completed by a numerical analysis of the flow in the cooling module. Different integration effects are highlighted depending on the blade curvature, showing variation in pressure, torque and efficiency. Analyses of blade loadings show that the flow is more homogeneous with a forward curved fan and it produces less unsteadiness at the blade tip. Post-processing of detached eddy simulations (DES) shows density fluctuations on the blade wall and confirms the correlation between the large vortical structures and the acoustic sources for both fans. In addition, with the forward fan, the sound propagation is less directed towards the axis of rotation and it yields up to −3.6 dB of sound pressure level (SPL) measured in front of the cooling module. As a conclusion, any choice for a fan must result from a compromise between aerodynamics and aeroacoustics, and the final performances must be carefully checked on the module.
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