The subject of this study is a centrifugal compressor for fuel-cell vehicles which produces compressed air and sends it to the cathode channels of a fuel-cell stack. It uses up a lot of electricity and it is the only component in the processing system that has a rotating part moving a high angular velocity. So, it is important to improve the centrifugal compressor in efficiency and noise respects. As demand for quiet and comfort of vehicles increases recently, it becomes more and more important for the compressor to achieve low noise level. But it is difficult to design a suitable compressor with a conventional design method, which was formulated to provide highly efficient operation at the design point without considering the noise. Actually, the noise of a compressor is hard to be considered in the early steps of the design procedure because of a lack of information. So, this study aims to describe noise characteristics of centrifugal compressors experimentally and to pull noise considerations into a design procedure of the centrifugal compressor.

According to previous studies, a tonal component leads to overall noise of a compressor in normal operation and there is a close connection between the instability intensity and the circumferential flow fluctuations of an impeller. Therefore an experimental study was designed to check the aero-acoustic characteristics of the impeller. An existing compressor was modified to install pressure transducers at the inlet and outlet of the impeller. And two microphones were installed to measure noise signals of the compressor in a sealed room. Tests were carried out to investigate the phenomena governing the overall noise and the dominant noise source of the centrifugal compressor. Then pressure fluctuations, noise signals and spectra of them were examined closely. After that, several impellers varying exit blade angles and design flow coefficients were tested also. They were all designed to satisfy the same pressure performance at a design mass-flow rate. Then investigations into the noise characteristics were carried out to find out effects of the impeller design variables on them. The results show that a large value of a blade angle is good for efficiency and noise level of the compressor. It is expected to be an optimal value to improve noise characteristics in terms of the design flow coefficient. The experimental facility, conditions and the results were described in this paper minutely.

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