In a centrifugal compressor with a volute, the internal flow field is circumferentially nonuniform owing to the asymmetric structure of the volute. Currently, the mechanisms by which the volute influences the stall inception circumferential position and the stall process in a transonic centrifugal compressor are not clear. In this study, the stall process in the centrifugal compressor with a volute is investigated under transonic inlet conditions. Obtained by experimental and simulation results, the static pressure distributions around the casing wall are compared with each other. Thereafter, an unsteady simulation is conducted on the stall process under transonic inlet conditions. By analyzing the stall cell evolution pattern at the impeller inlet, the stall process can be divided into three stages: stall onset, stall development, and stall maturation. The spike-type stall inceptions occur twice at the tip in the circumferential 135° position of the impeller inlet. This circumferential position is also the affected position of the high static pressure region induced by the volute tongue. Because of the circumferentially nonuniform flow field, there is a stall cell decay zone and a stall cell formation/growth zone at the impeller inlet. For the compressor under study, the approximate circumferential range of 135° to 270° is the decay zone, and the circumferential range of 270° to 360° is the formation/growth zone. The stall inception cannot occur in the decay zone. However, the stall cells can pass through the decay zone when the stall cell size is large enough. The first stall inception cannot propagate circumferentially, while the second one can. The propagation speed of stall cells in the circumferential direction is at approximately 70% of the rotational speed of impeller.

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