In the present work, time-accurate simulations were performed to investigate the unsteady flow fields in the tip region of a low-speed large-scale axial compressor rotor at near-stall condition. Firstly, the steady performance characteristic of the rotor was obtained by steady simulations. Secondly, a series of unsteady simulations were carried out to investigate the physical processes as the rotor approaching stall and the role of complex tip flow mechanism on flow instability in the rotor.

The characteristics of tip leakage vortex were compared between design condition and near-stall condition. Detailed analyses were then employed to emphasize the development of stall inception and the comprehensions of the internal flow field. Two flow phenomena, spillage at the leading edge and backflow at the trailing edge, are found beyond the flow solution limit, which are both linked to the tip leakage flow. And the breakdown of the tip leakage vortex has been captured.

The flow visualization and the quantification of passage blockage expose that the tip leakage vortex and corner vortex contribute most to the total passage blockage. Therefore, they are considered to be the key flow structures contributing to the rotating stall. Further analyses indicate that, in the current rotor, the interaction of the tip leakage flow and the corner vortex is clarified to be the key factor that leads to the rotating stall.

In addition, the very initial disturbances of stall inception are discussed. And the interaction of the boundary layer migration on the blade suction side and the tip leakage vortex also plays a significant role in the stall inception.

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