The process of surge in a centrifugal compressor has been studied and found to be dependent on a number of complex and often interrelated factors. A major factor defining surge in high-speed, vaned diffuser designs appears to be the flow in the semivaneless space. By developing work initiated by others it has been possible to propose some explanation of previously presented apparently conflicting data. In addition, a more complex mathematical model capable of assessing additional factors is proposed. Using this model good agreement with experimental surge has been obtained. This model takes into consideration pressure losses in the impeller, diffuser, and collector, and by using this model it was possible to identify the stalling elements that are responsible for overall compressor instability.

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