Centrifugal compressors or blowers are widely used in many industrial applications. However, the operation of such systems is limited at low-mass flow rates by self-excited flow instabilities which could result in rotating stall or surge of the compressor. These instabilities will limit the flow range in which the compressor or the blower can operate, and will also lower their performance and efficiency. Experimental techniques were used to investigate a model of radial vaneless diffuser at stall and stall-free operating conditions. The speed of the impeller was kept constant, while the mass flow rate was reduced gradually to study the steady and unsteady operating conditions of the compressor. Additional experiments were made to investigate the effects of reducing the exit flow area on the inception of stall. The results indicate that the instability in the diffuser was successfully delayed to a lower flow coefficient when throttle rings were attached to either one or both of the diffuser walls (i.e., to reduce the diffuser exit flow area). The results also showed that an increase of the blockage ratio improves the stability of the system (i.e., the critical mass flow rate could be reduced to 50% of its value without blockage). The results indicate that the throttle rings could be an effective method to control stall in radial diffusers.

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