The blades of turbocharger impellers are exposed to unsteady aerodynamic forces, which cause blade vibrations and may lead to failures. An indispensable requirement for a safe design of radial inflow turbines is a detailed knowledge of the exciting forces. Up to now, only a few investigations relating to unsteady aerodynamic forces in radial turbines have been presented. To give a detailed insight into the complex phenomena, a comprehensive research project was initiated at the Institut fu¨r Thermische Stro¨mungsmaschinen, at the University of Karlsruhe. A turbocharger test rig was installed in the high-pressure, high-temperature laboratory of the institute. The present paper gives a description of the test rig design and the measuring techniques. The flow field in a vaneless radial inflow turbine was analyzed using laser-Doppler anemometry. First results of unsteady flow field investigations in the turbine scroll and unsteady phase-resolved measurements of the flow field in the turbine rotor will be discussed. Moreover, results from finite element calculations analyzing frequencies and mode shapes are presented. As vibrations in turbines of turbochargers are assumed to be predominantly excited by unsteady aerodynamic forces, a method to predict the actual transient flow in a radial turbine utilizing the commercial Navier–Stokes solver TASCflow3d was developed. Results of the unsteady calculations are presented and comparisons with the measured unsteady flow field are made. As a major result, the excitation effect of the tongue region in a vaneless radial inflow turbine can be demonstrated. [S0889-504X(00)01402-1]

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