An experimental and analytical study has been performed on the effect of Reynolds number and free-stream turbulence on boundary layer transition location on the suction surface of a controlled diffusion airfoil (CDA). The experiments were conducted in a rectilinear cascade facility at Reynolds numbers between 0.7 and 3.0×106 and turbulence intensities from about 0.7 to 4%. An oil streak technique and liquid crystal coatings were used to visualize the boundary layer state.

For small turbulence levels and all Reynolds numbers tested the accelerated front portion of the blade is laminar and transition occurs within a laminar separation bubble shortly after the maximum velocity near 35–40% of chord. For high turbulence levels (Tu > 3%) and high Reynolds numbers transition propagates upstream into the accelerated front portion of the CDA blade. For those conditions, the sensitivity to surface roughness increases considerably and at Tu = 4% bypass transition is observed near 7–10% of chord. Experimental results are compared to theoretical predictions using the transition model which is implemented in the MISES code of Youngren and Drela. Overall the results indicate that early bypass transition at high turbulence levels must alter the profile velocity distribution for compressor blades that are designed and optimized for high Reynolds numbers.

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