Heavy-duty fans are frequently employed in industrial processes that involve the operation of contaminated gases. Particle-laden flows may cause erosion issues, generating several drawbacks such as unbalanced load, vibrations and structural damage responsible for performance degradation and early failure. In this paper, the erosion behavior of a large-sized centrifugal fan employed in clinker production is studied by numerical simulation. Based on preliminary numerical results for the undamaged fan configuration and on-field erosion detections, the geometry damage effects due to the erosion process are analyzed. The severe erosive conditions under which these machines operate determine a progressive reduction in wall thickness of specific fan zones, which may finally result in the formation of holes. This, in turn, makes the internal flow field changing, affecting contaminant trajectories and impact characteristics. CFD predictions show that erosion-induced damage on the fan inlet cone causes a distortion of the velocity profile immediately upstream of the impeller, which influences the impeller flow. Simultaneously, the erosion process changes, leading to a modification of particle impact areas, impact kinematic characteristics and erosion intensity. This investigation focuses on the importance of erosion predictions for maintenance planning and scheduling and demonstrates how localized damage could be responsible for larger damage, involving the structural integrity of the installation.

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