The flow field of a complex three-dimensional radial inlet for an industrial pipeline centrifugal compressor has been experimentally determined on a half-scale model. Based on the experimental results, inlet guide vanes have been designed to correct pressure and swirl angle distribution deficiencies. The unvaned and vaned inlets are analyzed with a commercially available fully three-dimensional viscous Navier–Stokes code. Since experimental results were available prior to the numerical study, the unvaned analysis is considered a postdiction while the vaned analysis is considered a prediction. The computational results of the unvaned inlet have been compared to the previously obtained experimental results. The experimental method utilized for the unvaned inlet is repeated for the vaned inlet and the data have been used to verify the computational results. The paper will discuss experimental, design, and computational procedures, grid generation, boundary conditions, and experimental versus computational methods. Agreement between experimental and computational results is very good, both in prediction and postdiction modes. The results of this investigation indicate that CFD offers a measurable advantage in design, schedule, and cost and can be applied to complex, three-dimensional radial inlets.

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