Vaned diffusers have been used successfully as efficient and compact dynamic pressure recovery devices in industrial centrifugal compressor stages. Typically such diffusers consist of a cascade of two-dimensional blades distributed circumferentially at close proximity to the impeller exit. In this paper three low-solidity diffuser blade geometries are numerically investigated. The first geometry employs variable stagger stacking of similar blade sections along the blade span. The second employs linearly inclined stacking to generate blade lean along the diffuser span. The third geometry employs the conventional two-dimensional low-solidity diffuser geometry with no variable stagger or lean. The variable stagger blade arrangement has the potential of better aligning the diffuser leading edges with the highly non-uniform flow leaving the impeller. Both variable stagger and linearly leaned diffuser blade arrangements, however, have the effect of redistributing the blade loading and flow streamlines in the spanwise direction leading to improved efficiency and pressure recovery capacity of the diffuser. In this paper a description of the proposed diffuser geometries is presented. The results of Three-dimensional Navier-Stokes numerical simulations of the three centrifugal compressor arrangements are discussed. Comparisons between the performance of the two and three-dimensional diffuser blade geometries are presented. The comparisons indeed show that the variable stagger and leaned diffusers present an improvement in the diffuser operating range and pressure recovery capacity over the conventional two-dimensional diffuser geometry.

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