This study was carried out in order to investigate the unstable flow through a mixed-flow-type vaneless diffuser system. The testing equipment consists of a vaneless diffuser, an inlet pipe, and a swirl flow generator. Pressure fluctuations of the flow through the diffuser were measured. In the experiment, the velocity ratio (axial velocity/peripheral velocity) at the diffuser inlet, diffuser width, inlet pipe length, hub diameter, and mixed flow angle of the diffuser were varied. The internal flow condition existing when the unstable flow occurred is discussed in terms of turbulent flow analysis. The main findings of this study are as follows. The unstable flow is excited when the aforementioned velocity ratio is lowered under a critical value. The source of the unstable flow is the mixed flow vaneless diffuser. The rotational speed of the cell and the intensity of pressure fluctuation are influenced remarkably by diffuser width. The inlet pipe acts as an attenuator for the unstable flow of the diffuser. A prediction equation for rotational speed of the cell is proposed. Prediction of back flow in the diffuser is useful for prediction of the onset of unstable flow. Unstable flow with a fast-speed mode was measured when the diffuser had a small hub and a small mixed flow angle. The fast-speed mode is believed to arise from instability in the inlet pipe system.

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