Experimental and numerical studies were conducted to investigate tip-leakage flow and its relationship to stall in a transonic axial compressor. The computational fluid dynamics (CFD) results were used to identify the existence of an interface between the approach flow and the tip-leakage flow. The experiments used a surface-streaking visualization method to identify the time-averaged location of this interface as a line of zero axial shear stress at the casing. The axial position of this line, denoted xzs, moved upstream with decreasing flow coefficient in both the experiments and computations. The line was consistently located at the rotor leading edge plane at the stalling flow coefficient, regardless of inflow boundary condition. These results were successfully modeled using a control volume approach that balanced the reverse axial momentum flux of the tip-leakage flow with the momentum flux of the approach fluid. Nonuniform tip clearance measurements demonstrated that movement of the interface upstream of the rotor leading edge plane leads to the generation of short length scale rotating disturbances. Therefore, stall was interpreted as a critical point in the momentum flux balance of the approach flow and the reverse axial momentum flux of the tip-leakage flow.

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