Successful implementation of sCO2 power cycles requires high compressor efficiency at both the design-point and over a wide operating range in order to maximize cycle power output and maintain stable operation over a wide range of transient and part-load operating conditions. This requirement is particularly true for air-cooled cycles where compressor inlet density is a strong function of inlet temperature that is subject to daily and seasonal variations as well as transient events. In order to meet these requirements, a novel centrifugal compressor stage design was developed that incorporates multiple novel range extension features, including a passive recirculating casing treatment and semi-open impeller design. This design, presented and analyzed for CO2 operation in a previous paper, was fabricated via direct metal laser sintering and tested in an open-loop test rig in order to validate simulation results and the effectiveness of the casing treatment configuration. Predicted performance curves in air and CO2 conditions are compared, resulting in a reduced diffuser width requirement for the air test in order to match design velocities and demonstrate the casing treatment.
Test results show that the casing treatment performance generally matched CFD predictions, demonstrating an operating range of 69% and efficiency above air predictions across the entire map. The casing treatment configuration demonstrated improvements over the solid wall configuration in stage performance and flow characteristics at low flows, resulting in an effective 14% increase in operating range with a 0.5-point efficiency penalty. The test results are also compared to a traditional fully shrouded impeller with the same flow coefficient and similar head coefficient, showing a 42% range improvement over traditional designs.