This article describes an experimental investigation of the flow structures occurring in an axial flow compressor during second quadrant operation for reversed rotor rotation in the incompressible flow regime. In second quadrant operation, the flow direction is reversed, but the pressure is lower at the compressor inlet than at the outlet. The compressor thus acts as an axial flow turbine.

A three stage axial flow compressor, with a mass flow rate of 2.7 kg/s and a pressure ratio of 1.022 was investigated. The design rotor tip Mach number is 0.2. Three operational points within the second quadrant were investigated, at flow coefficients of −0.482, −0.553 and −0.843. A five hole conical probe and a 50 micron diameter inclined hot film anemometer were used in this investigation. Radial traverses downstream of rotor rows and a time-dependent area traverse downstream of the first stage stator were performed. Three-dimensional time-dependent numerical Navier-Stokes solutions using the non-linear harmonic approximation for single blade passages in each blade row for each of the cases are compared with experimental work.

The compressor has already been show to be capable of attaining relatively high turbine efficiency (76%) when operating in this mode. Examination of the flow field shows that little to no flow separation occurs on the rotor or stator blades. The wakes of all blades are found to be thin and sharp, and the area between wakes is large and approximately uniform. Numerical results agree relatively well with experimental results.

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