In a number of recent and former publications, compressor tandem blade configurations show potential to outperform single blade configurations in terms of turning, loss and operating range at high aerodynamic loading levels. However, very little insight is given into the mechanisms of flow breakdown when comparing tandem blades to single blades at large off-design incidence angles.

Single blade cascades tend to fail as a result of either pressure side flow separation for high negative incidence or suction side flow separation for high positive incidence, the latter being mostly accompanied by significant increase of underturning. Tandem blade cascades are expected to show a different behavior due to the aerodynamic interaction in the blade overlapping region.

Two different tandem blade configurations are examined together with their respective reference single blades, one being a recently designed and optimized tandem blade for high subsonic inlet Mach numbers, which has also been investigated in cascade wind tunnel testing. The other one is a more generic tandem blade based on NACA65 family, designed for medium inlet Mach numbers using current state-of-the-art understanding of tandem design.

The mechanisms of flow breakdown are examined using quasi two-dimensional RANS simulations which are validated with test data for one of the aforementioned tandem configurations. A detailed analysis of the flow structure at heavy off-design conditions gives insight into the characteristics of tandem flow breakdown. In particular, the ability of the tandem configuration to extend the operating range to larger positive incidence is described. The shortcomings of the tandem cascade at large negative incidence are also commented. These and further conclusions can be used to improve tandem blade performance at moderate off-design conditions.

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