The present work is part of the research project at the Institute of Jet Propulsion and Turbomachinery at the RWTH Aachen University in collaboration with GE Aviation. The subject is the numerical and experimental analysis of two blading strategies used in the diffusion system of an aero engine centrifugal compressor.

The transonic centrifugal compressor investigated contains a close-coupled impeller and passage diffuser [1], followed by a deswirler system. The deswirler redirects the flow towards the combustion chamber, while decreasing swirl and recovering pressure. It is characterized by a high aerodynamic loading, due to a moderate inlet Mach number of 0.35, in combination with a required flow redirection of 70° in circumferential and 135° in meridional direction. For this purpose, two different blading strategies are investigated, both retaining the same meridional flow path and integral chord length. The first design is a tandem configuration with 30 vanes in the first row and 60 vanes in the second row. In principal, this approach benefits from the small wetted surface, the short and thereby stable boundary layers as well as the positive blade interaction due to the close alignment [2]. The second design contains one row of 75 vanes. The higher solidity is needed to compensate for the longer boundary layers. The two deswirlers investigated are compared to a less compact baseline deswirler [3] with simple prismatic vanes.

Experimental and numerical data shows that both new configurations have very similar stage efficiency. The single row design shows a higher static pressure recovery, resulting in a +0.2%-points total-to-static isentropic efficiency increase compared to the tandem design. Detailed flow analysis in the deswirler system shows different characteristics in terms of losses, loss mechanisms and pressure build-up. Due to the required high turning, both designs suffer from flow separation. Nevertheless, the single row design shows its robustness under the impact of 3D flow, whereas the tandem suffers from end-wall induced losses. The results show that the classical mechanisms making a tandem favorable for high flow turning in 2D flow are counteracted by 3D flow mechanisms caused by the spanwise pressure gradient. The low aspect ratio even increases the effect of 3D end-wall mechanisms. These results, combined with a higher manufacturing effort, show that a tandem configuration is not necessarily the superior design for highly 3D flow conditions.

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