Experiments and numerical analyses were used to investigate the unsteady behavior of a vortex generated on the leading-edge of a diffuser (i.e., leading-edge vortex (LEV)) and the diffuser stall inception in a centrifugal compressor equipped with vaned diffusers. The LEV is distinct from the separation vortex of the diffuser’s leading edge and passage vortex of the diffuser; it is generated by the accumulation of vortices caused by the velocity gradient of the impeller discharge flow. The LEV increases with decreasing velocity in the diffuser passage and forms a huge flow blockage within the diffuser passage. Therefore, the LEV may help cause the diffuser stall inception in the centrifugal compressor. A diffuser vane, that was tapered only on the hub side was designed and used in the experiment. The results of the computational fluid dynamics analysis and experiments showed that the tapered diffuser vane can suppress LEV evolution during off-design operations. Therefore, the tapered diffuser vane may control the diffuser stall inception in a centrifugal compressor by suppressing LEV evolution.

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