Compression systems are widely employed in gas turbine engines, turbocharged engines, and industry compression plants. The stable work of compression systems is an essential precondition for engine performance and safety. A compression system in practice usually consists of upstream and downstream pipes, compressors, plenums and throttles. When a compression system encounters the surge, the flows in the compressor present complex three-dimensional patterns but the flows of other components might present relatively simple one-dimensional patterns. Based on these flow characteristics, this paper proposes a novel simulation method, where one-dimensional and three-dimensional (1D–3D) calculations are coupled, to predict the surge boundary of centrifugal compressors. To validate this method, a high-speed centrifugal compressor is studied both by the proposed 1D–3D coupled method and experimentally. The results show that the differences between the predicted and experimentally determined stable flow range are lower than 5% until the Mach number of blade outlet tip tangential velocity reaches around 1.3. Besides, this method can correctly predict the instantaneous compressor performance during the surge cycle, so it can also be used to explore the surge mechanism and evaluate the blade dynamic force response in the future.

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