The performance deterioration of a high speed axial compressor rotor due to surface roughness and airfoil thickness variations is reported. A 0.025 mm (0.001 in.) thick rough coating with a surface finish of 2.54–3.18 RMS μm (100–125 RMS microinches) is applied to the pressure and suction surface of the rotor blades. Coating both surfaces increases the leading edge thickness by 10% at the hub and 20% at the tip. Application of this coating results in a loss in efficiency of 6 points and a 9% reduction in the pressure ratio across the rotor at an operating condition near the design point. To separate the effects of thickness and roughness, a smooth coating of equal thickness is also applied to the blade. The smooth coating surface finish is 0.254–0.508 RMS μm (10–20 RMS microinches), compared to the bare metal blade surface finish of 0.508 RMS μm (20 RMS microinches). The smooth coating results in approximately half of the performance deterioration found from the rough coating. Both coatings are then applied to different portions of the blade surface to determine which portions of the airfoil are most sensitive to thickness/roughness variations.

Aerodynamic performance measurements are presented for a number of coating configurations at 60%, 80%, and 100% of design speed. The results indicate that thickness/roughness over the first 10% of blade chord accounts for virtually all of the observed performance degradation for the smooth coating, compared to about 70% of the observed performance degradation for the rough coating.

The performance deterioration is investigated in more detail at design speed using laser anemometer measurements as well as predictions generated by a quasi-3D Navier-Stokes flow solver which includes a surface roughness model. Measurements and analysis are performed on the baseline blade and the full-coverage smooth and rough coatings. The results indicate that coating the blade causes a thickening of the blade boundary layers. The interaction between the rotor passage shock and the thickened suction surface boundary layer then results in an increase in blockage which reduces the diffusion level in the rear half of the blade passage, thus reducing the aerodynamic performance of the rotor.

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