Effects of a large rotor tip gap on the performance of a one and a half stage axial compressor are investigated in detail with a numerical simulation based on large eddy simulation (LES) and available particle image velocimetry (PIV) data. This paper studies the main flow physics, including why and how the loss generation is increased with the large rotor tip gap. The present study reveals that when the tip gap becomes large, tip clearance fluid goes over the tip clearance core vortex and enters into the next blade's tip gap, which is called double-leakage tip clearance flow. As the tip clearance flow enters into the adjacent blade's tip gap, a vortex rope with a lower pressure core is generated. This vortex rope breaks up the tip clearance core vortex of the adjacent blade, resulting in a large additional mixing. This double-leakage tip clearance flow occurs at all the operating conditions, from design flow to near stall condition, with the large tip gap for the current compressor stage. The double-leakage tip clearance flow, its interaction with the tip clearance core vortex of the adjacent blade, and the resulting large mixing loss are the main flow mechanism of the large rotor tip gap in the compressor. When the tip clearance is smaller, flow near the end wall follows more closely with the main passage flow and this double-leakage tip clearance flow does not happen near the design flow condition for the current compressor stage. When the compressor with a large tip gap operates at near stall operation, a strong vortex rope is generated near the leading edge due to the double-leakage flow. Part of this vortex separates from the path of the tip clearance core vortex and travels from the suction side of the blade toward the pressure side of the blade. This vortex is generated periodically at near stall operation with a large tip gap. As the vortex travels from the suction side to the pressure side of the blade, a large fluctuation of local pressure forces blade vibration. Nonsynchronous blade vibration occurs due to this vortex as the frequency of this vortex generation is not the same as the rotor. The present investigation confirms that this vortex is a part of separated tip clearance vortex, which is caused by the double-leakage tip clearance flow.

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