A new structure of rotating stall with unusual large-number stall cells (up to 7) has been detected experimentally in a high performance single stage centrifugal compressor system with backswept impeller and vaned diffusers. The number of stall cells is firstly identified by a phase analysis of pressure signals obtained from fast response dynamic transducers located at different circumferential positions on the shroud wall, and then verified by comparing the resulting frequencies of blade vibration with that measured from blade mounted strain gages. Up to 6 transducers in one radial position have been used for more certainty of the phase analysis. For the case of intermittent stall patterns, the frequency analysis of pressure and blade vibration signals is performed separately for sections with different characters of oscillation to avoid the smearing effect if signals of the whole pattern are averaged. As a result, the large-number stall cells, numbered 4–7, were determined in the speed range of 12000–14000 rpm, and in the higher speeds of 15000–16000 rpm right after the occurrence of normal stall cells of 2, when the flow rate is slightly reduced along the constant speed line.
For the large-number stall cell case, the measured blade vibration strain has reached such a high level that is already beyond the tolerance of blade material. Moreover, frequencies of blade excitation are always in the vincinity of resonance. These two features, which are not observed for the normal stall cell case and for the excitation of broadband character, show a particular danger of this phenomenon to the compressor operation.