The continuous demand for oil and gas pushes the petroleum industry to develop new technologies in order to increase production and exploit existing fields. The wet gas process, based on direct compression of unprocessed well stream subsea is a powerful means to expand the extraction of crude oil and gas and reach remote regions. Consequently centrifugal compressors are key elements that need to be developed in this area. Since no commercial subsea compressors are available and the liquid phase inside the standard process has to be avoided, it is essential to fully understand the machine behaviour, particularly investigate the presence of a gas-liquid mixture. Because of liquid impact, the performance of compressors and consequently the margin of stability may have to be modified. Here, delayed instability inception should be identified.

An ongoing research programme is conducted at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) concerning the influence of wet gas on performance and aerodynamic stability. An open loop wet gas test rig is designed and employed in an experimental campaign.

The main goal of this study is the visualisation of flow in a vaneless diffuser by means of special windows in Plexiglas, in correspondence with the diffuser and volute. Most attention is focused on the behaviour that leads to unstable phenomena, like stall and surge, in order to expose wet effects. Interactions between the diffuser and volute will also be taken into account. Simultaneously, the analysis will be supported by measurements from high-response dynamic pressure sensors. A fast Fourier transform (FFT) examination will be realised, in order to identify characteristic frequencies of unsteady events.

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