Multistage axial compressors have always been a great challenge for designers since the flow within these kind of machines, subjected to severe diffusion, is usually characterized by complex and widely developed 3D structures, especially next to the endwalls. The development of reliable numerical tools capable of providing an accurate prediction of the overall machine performance is one of the main research focus areas in the multistage axial compressor field.
This paper is intended to present the strategy used to run numerical simulations on compressors achieved by the collaboration between the University of Florence and Ansaldo Energia. All peculiar aspects of the numerical setup are introduced, such as rotor/stator tip clearance modelling, simplified shroud leakage model, gas and turbulence models. Special attention is payed to the mixing planes adopted for steady-state computations because this is a crucial aspect of modern heavy-duty transonic multistage axial compressors. In fact, these machines are characterized by small inter-row axial gaps and transonic flow in front stages, which both may affect non-reflectiveness and fluxes conservation across mixing planes. Moreover, the high stage count may lead to conservation issues of the main flow properties form inlet to outlet boundaries. Finally, the likely occurrence of partspan flow reversal in the endwall regions affects the robustness of non-reflecting mixing plane models.
The numerical setup has been validated on an existing machine produced and experimentally tested by Ansaldo Energia. In order to evaluate the impact on performance prediction of the mixing planes introduced in the steady-state computation, un-steady simulations of the whole compressor have been performed at different operating conditions. These calculations have been carried out both at the compressor design point and close to the surge-line to evaluate the effect of rotor/stator interaction along the compressor working line.