Obtaining the right pitch in turbomachinery blading is crucial to efficient and successful operations. Engineers adjust the rotor’s pitch angle to control the production or absorption of power. Even for low speed fans this is a promising tool. This paper focuses on a low speed axial fan’s inception and the evolution of the flow instabilities in the tip region which drive the stall onset. The authors conducted an experimental study to investigate the inception patterns of rotating stall evolution at different rotor blade stagger-angle settings with the aim of extending the stable operating range. The authors drove the fan to stall at the design stagger-angle setting and then operated the variable pitch mechanism in order to recover the unstable operation. They measured pressure fluctuations in the tip region of the low-speed axial-flow fan using a variable pitch in motion mechanism, with flush mounted probes. The authors studied the flow mechanisms for spike and modal stall inceptions in this low-speed axial-flow fan which showed relatively small tip clearance. The authors cross-correlated the pressure fluctuations and analysed the cross-spectra in order to clarify blade pitch, end-wall flow, and tip-leakage flow influences on stall inception during the transient at the rotor blades’ different stagger-angle settings. The authors observed a rotating instability near the maximum pressure-rise point at both design and low stagger-angle settings. The stall inception patterns were a spike type at the design stagger-angle setting and a modal type at the low stagger-angle setting as a result of the interaction between the incoming flow, tip-leakage flow and end-wall backflow.

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