Off-design performance is of key importance now in the design of automotive turbocharger turbines. Due to automotive drive cycles, a turbine which can extract more energy at high pressure ratios and lower rotational speeds is desirable. Typically a radial turbine provides peak efficiency at U/C values of 0.7, but at high pressure ratios and low rotational speeds the U/C value will be low and the rotor will experience high values of positive incidence at the inlet. The positive incidence causes high blade loading resulting in additional tip leakage flow in the rotor as well as flow separation on the suction surface of the blade.

An experimental assessment has been performed on a scaled automotive VGS (Variable Geometry System). Three different stator vane positions have been analysed; minimum, 25% and maximum flow position. The first tests were to establish whether positioning the endwall clearance on the hub or shroud side of the stator vanes produced a different impact on turbine efficiency. Following this, a back swept rotor was tested to establish the potential gains to be achieved during off-design operation. A single passage CFD model of the test rig was developed and used to provide information on the flow features affecting performance in both the stator vanes and turbine.

It was seen that off-design performance was improved by implementing clearance on the hub side of the stator vanes rather than on the shroud side. Through CFD analysis and tests it was seen that two leakage vortices form, one at the leading edge and one after the spindle of the stator vane. The vortices affect the flow angle at the inlet to the rotor, in the hub region. The flow angle is shifted to more negative values of incidence, which is beneficial at the off-design conditions but detrimental at the design point. The back swept rotor was tested with the hub side stator vane clearance configuration. The efficiency and MFR were increased at the minimum and 25% stator vane position. At the design point the efficiency and MFR were decreased. The CFD investigation showed that the incidence angle was improved at the off-design conditions, for the back swept rotor. This reduction in the positive incidence angle along with the improvement caused by the stator vane tip leakage flow, reduced flow separation on the suction surface of the rotor. At the design point both the tip leakage flow of the stator vanes and the back swept blade angle caused flow separation on the pressure surface of the rotor. This resulted in additional blockage at the throat of the rotor reducing MFR and efficiency.

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