Abstract

The rotating mechanism of diffuser stall in a centrifugal compressor with a vaneless diffuser is investigated via experimental and computational analyses. Diffuser stall is generated as the mass flow rate decreases, and it rotates at 25%–30% of the impeller rotational speed. First, a diffuser stall cell emerges at 180° from the cutoff by the hub-side boundary layer separation. Subsequently, the diffuser stall cell develops further owing to boundary layer separation accumulation and an induced low-velocity area. The low-velocity region forms a blockage across the diffuser passage span. The diffuser stall cell expands owing to the boundary layer separations that occurred on the shroud and hub wall by turns. Finally, the diffuser stall cell vanishes when it passes the cutoff because mass flow recovery occurred. Furthermore, the static pressure ahead of the rotating stall decreases because of the merging of the impeller discharge flow and the reverse flow from the casing. Accordingly, a reverse flow occurred owing to the evolution of the separation vortex at the diffuser exit. In addition, the flow angle decreases by the merging of the impeller discharge flow and reverse flow from the casing. Therefore, boundary layer separations start occurring on the shroud and hub wall ahead of the stall cell. The rotating mechanism of the diffuser stall is induced by the reverse flow development and a decrease in the flow angle ahead of the stall cell.

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