Applications such as boundary-layer-ingesting (BLI) fans and compressors in turboprop engines require continuous operation with distorted inflow. A low-speed axial fan with incompressible flow is studied in this paper. The objectives are to (1) identify the physical mechanisms which govern the fan response to inflow distortions and (2) determine how fan performance scales as the type and severity of inlet distortion varies at the design flow coefficient. A distributed source term approach to modeling the rotor and stator blade rows is used in numerical simulations in this paper. The model does not include viscous losses so that changes in diffusion factor are the primary focus. Distortions in stagnation pressure and temperature as well as swirl are considered. The key findings are that unless sharp pitchwise gradients in the diffusion response, strong radial flows, or very large distortion magnitudes are present, the response of the blade rows for strong distortions can be predicted by scaling up the response to a weaker distortion. In addition, the response to distortions which are composed of nonuniformities in several inlet quantities can be predicted by summing up the responses to the constituent distortions.

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