An experimental investigation has been conducted to study the mean and unsteady behavior of the non-reacting swirling flow using a water test rig. Water was used as the flow medium as for a given Reynolds number (Re), the flow dynamics are slowed down by about 18 times compared to atmospheric air making it easier to investigate the flow dynamics. The flow was examined using a 3X model of a counter rotating radial-radial swirler. 2D high speed Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) measurements were employed to study the instantaneous and the mean velocity fields. Tests were conducted at Re values corresponding to an air pressure drop of 4%, 2.8%, 1.8% and 1% of atmospheric pressure for the corresponding 1X model of the swirler under atmospheric test conditions. The use of water to test the unsteady behavior of the swirling flow was validated by conducting tests on the same 3X model in the same test rig using air at the same Re values. The mean and turbulent behavior of the swirling flow in water and air showed excellent agreement over the range of Re tested. For this swirler, the normalized mean and RMS velocities did not change significantly with Re for the range of Re tested. Strong flow instability was observed at the exit of the swirler. This instability was created by a precessing vortex core (PVC). For air and water tests, the dominant frequency of this instability increased linearly with the increase in Re. For all Re investigated, the dominant frequency of water flow was 18 times less than that of air at the same Re. The Strouhal number was found to be nearly identical for air and water testing for all Re values. Maximum Turbulent Kinetic Energy (TKE) was found to exist on the boundaries of strong shear layers. The TKE decayed quickly downstream due to the quick decay of the PVC. The phase angle difference between the high TKE regions was 3.14 radians indicating a circumferential mode of instability. The results obtained demonstrate that water testing is an accepted method for studying the unsteady flows.

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