The transient processes of rotating stall evolution have been investigated experimentally in a low-speed axial compressor stage with three stator-rotor gaps. The pressure traces at 8 circumferential locations on the casing wall near the rotor leading edge have been analyzed by the wavelet transforms. With the appropriate mother wavelets, the evolution of short and long length-scale disturbances leading to the stall can be captured clearly.

Behavior of these disturbances is different depending on the stator-rotor gap. For the large and middle gap, the stall inception is detected by a spiky short length-scale disturbance, and the number of spiky waves increases to generate the high frequency waves. They becomes the short length-scale part-span stall cells at the mild stall for the large gap, while they turn into a big stall cell with growth of a long length-scale disturbance for the middle gap. In the latter case, therefore, the stalling process was identified with ‘high frequency stall inception’. For the small stator-rotor gap, the stalling process is identified with ‘long wave-length stall inception’, and supported the recent computational model for the short wave-length stall inception by showing that closing the rotor-stator gaps suppressed the growth of short length-scale disturbances.

From the measurement of the pressure field traces on the casing wall, a hypothesis has been built up that the short length-scale disturbance should result from a separation vortex from a blade surface to reduce circulation. The processes of the stall evolution are discussed on this hypothesis.

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