Numerical simulations are carried out to investigate flow structures in the tip region for an axial transonic rotor, with careful comparisons with the experimental results. The calculated performance curve and two-dimensional (2D) flow structures observed at casing, such as the shock wave, the expansion wave around the leading edge, and the tip leakage flow at peak efficiency and near-stall points, are all captured by simulation results, which agree with the experimental data well. An in-depth analysis of three-dimensional flow structures reveals three features: (1) there exists an interface between the incoming main flow and the tip leakage flow, (2) in this rotor the tip leakage flows along the blade chord can be divided into at least two parts according to the blade loading distribution, and (3) each part plays a different role on the stall inception mechanism in the leakage flow dominated region. A model of three-dimensional flow structures of tip leakage flow is thus proposed accordingly. In the second half of this paper, the unsteady features of the tip leakage flows, which emerge at the operating points close to stall, are presented and validated with experiment observations. The numerical results in the rotor relative reference frame are first converted to the casing absolute reference frame before compared with the measurements in experiments. It is found that the main frequency components of simulation at absolute reference frame match well with those measured in the experiments. The mechanism of the unsteadiness and its significance to stability enhancement design are then discussed based on the details of the flow field obtained through numerical simulations.

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