The influence of free stream disturbances on transition is discussed and it is noted that significant regions of laminar flow may exist on axial turbomachine blades despite the high level of disturbance to which they are subjected. A family of surface velocity distributions giving unseparated flow on the suction surface of an axial compressor blade is derived using data from detailed boundary layer measurements on the blading of a single-stage machine. The distributions are broadly similar to those adopted by Wortmann in designing high performance isolated aerofoil sections for operation at much higher Reynolds numbers. The theoretical performance of blades having the specified surface velocity distributions is computed for a wide range of conditions, and the effects of varying Reynolds number and other design parameters are analyzed. The results suggest the possibility of obtaining useful improvements in performance over that of conventional compressor blade sections. The computed performance values show an almost unique relation between the blade losses and the suction surface diffusion ratio. However the correlation of losses with the equivalent diffusion ratio is found to break down at high values of the latter parameter.

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