This article contains an investigation of the unsteady acoustic forcing on a centrifugal impeller due to coupled blade row interactions. Selected results from an aeromechanical test campaign on a GE Oil and Gas centrifugal compressor stage with a vaneless diffuser are presented. The most commonly encountered sources of impeller excitation due to upstream wake interaction were identified and observed in the testing campaign. A 30/rev excitation corresponding to the sum of upstream and downstream vane counts caused significant trailing edge vibratory stress amplitudes. Due to the large spacing between the impeller and the return channel vanes, this 30/rev excitation was suspected to be caused by an aero-acoustic excitation rather than a potential disturbance. The origin of this aero-acoustic excitation was deduced from an acoustic analysis of the unsteady compressor flow derived from CFD. The analysis revealed a complex excitation mechanism caused by impeller interaction with the upstream vane row wakes and subsequent acoustic wave reflection from the downstream return channel vanes. The findings show it is important to account for aero-acoustic forcing in the aeromechanical design of low pressure ratio centrifugal compressor stages.

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