The flow in intake manifold of a heavily downsized internal combustion engine has increased levels of unsteadiness due to the reduction of cylinder number and manifold arrangement. The turbocharger compressor is thus exposed to significant pulsating backpressure. This paper studies the response of a centrifugal compressor to this unsteadiness using an experimentally validated numerical method. A computational fluid dynamic (CFD) model with the volute and impeller is established and validated by experimental measurements. Following this, an unsteady three-dimensional (3D) simulation is conducted on a single passage imposed by the pulsating backpressure conditions, which are obtained by one-dimensional (1D) unsteady simulation. The performance of the rotor passage deviates from the steady performance and a hysteresis loop, which encapsulates the steady condition, is formed. Moreover, the unsteadiness of the impeller performance is enhanced as the mass flow rate reduces. The pulsating performance and flow structures near stall are more favorable than those seen at constant backpressure. The flow behavior at points with the same instantaneous mass flow rate is substantially different at different time locations on the pulse. The flow in the impeller is determined by not only the instantaneous boundary condition but also by the evolution history of flow field. This study provides insights in the influence of pulsating backpressure on compressor performance in actual engine situations, from which better turbo-engine matching might be benefited.

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