A low flow coefficient unshrouded centrifugal compressor would give up clearance very large in relation to the span of the blades, because centrifugal compressors produce a sufficiently large pressure rise in fewer stages. This problem is more acute for a low flow high-pressure ratio impeller. The large tip clearance would cause flow separations, and as a result it would drop both the efficiency and surge margin. Thus a design of a high efficiency and wide operation range for a low flow coefficient centrifugal compressor is a great challenge. This paper describes a new development of high efficiency and large surge margin low flow coefficient (0.145) centrifugal compressor. A viscous turbomachinery optimal design method developed by the authors for axial flow machine was further extended and used in this centrifugal compressor design. The new compressor has three main parts: impeller, a low solidity diffuser and volute. The tip clearance is under a special consideration in this design to allow impeller insensitiveness to the clearance. A three-dimensional low solidity diffuser design method is proposed and applied to this design. This design is successful to extend the low solidarity diffusers to high-pressure ratio compressor. It is demonstrated that the design is in a great success. The design performance range of the total to static efficiency of the compressor is about 85% and stability range is over 35%. The experimental results showed that the test results are in good agreement with the design.

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