An accurate estimation of rotating stall is one of the key points for high-pressure centrifugal compressors, as it is often connected with the onset of detrimental subsynchronous vibrations which can prevent the machine from operating beyond this limit.

With particular reference to vaneless diffuser rotating stall, the most common practice in industrial machines is to make use of a limited number of dynamic pressure probes to reconstruct the stall characteristics after an ensemble averaging approach.

In this study, a 1:1 model of an industrial compressor stage was tested in a dedicated test rig and equipped with 24 pressure probes properly distributed along the diffuser circumference with the scope of providing a real-time visualization of the spatial pressure distribution within the diffuser. The results allowed the assessment of some important characteristics of the stall cells that were historically supposed based on averaged data, e.g. the cells rigidity. Moreover, the present study confirmed the existence of a stall pattern with two almost axisymmetric lobes. Finally, the transient analysis of both the stall inception and the surge onset was carried out, highlighting the flow field evolution in the diffuser under these conditions.

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