The phenomena prior to rotating stall were investigated in a high-speed compressor test rig using optical and pneumatic measurement techniques. A number of throttling procedures was performed at transonic and subsonic speedlines with the aim to detect the unsteady effects initiating rotating stall or large amplitude blade vibrations. At transonic speed radial vortices traveling around the circumference were detected in the upstream part of the rotor using phase-locked PIV measurements above 92% span and unsteady wall pressure measurements. When these radial vortices impinge on a blade leading edge, they cause a forward spill of fluid around the leading edge. The effects are accompanied by a large-scale vortex breakdown in the blade passage leading to immense blockage in the endwall region. At subsonic speeds, the observed flow phenomena are similar but differ in intensity and structure.
During the throttling procedure, blade vibration amplitudes were monitored using strain gauges and blade tip timing instrumentation. Non-synchronous blade vibrations in the first torsional eigenmode were measured as the rotor approached stall. Using the different types of instrumentation, it was possible to align the aerodynamic flow features with blade vibration levels. The results show a clear correlation between the occurrence of radial vortices and blade vibrations.