Turbulence modelling in compressor passages continues to be a challenging problem. In order to better understand the shortcomings of turbulence modelling, a LES and a RANS computation were performed of a repeating compressor stage. The computation was carried out near the aerodynamic design point of the compressor stage, in order to minimise the challenge posed to the turbulence model.
The use of a repeating stage configuration removes the need to specify the statistics of the incoming turbulent field; the statistics become an output of the simulation and not an input. This is a critical fact that greatly increases the credibility of the current LES compressor simulation over many previous simulations. As the computations are performed at mid-span, radial gradients can safely be assumed to be small, thus removing issues associated with capturing flow features attributed to 3D geometry. The flow field is assumed to be incompressible, which is required in order to achieve a true repeating stage environment.
The RANS computation is based on a state-of-the-art turbulence model. At the same flow coefficient, the RANS simulation yielded a total pressure rise very near that of the LES simulation. However, there are nontrivial differences in the flow details. The mean flow and Reynolds shear stress boundary layer profiles are in good agreement in regions of favourable pressure gradient, but significant differences exist in the presence of adverse pressure-gradients. The turbulent kinetic energy profiles however are in poor agreement throughout the flow.
The mean flow production rates predicted by the RANS computation are largely similar to those of the LES simulation forward of mid-chord where the pressure gradient is favourable. A notable exception is the leading-edge region where the LES predicts negative production i.e. a net transfer of energy to the time-mean flow, and the region aft of mid-chord where the pressure gradient is adverse.
Outside of the viscous sub-layer, the dissipation rates are also predicted correctly by the RANS simulation forward of midchord where the pressure gradient is favourable. Aft of mid-chord however, there are significant differences in the dissipation rates.