Experimental Investigation of Inlet Distortion in a Multistage Axial Compressor

Razvan Rusu, Purdue University


The primary objective of this research is to present results and methodologies used to study total pressure inlet distortion in a multi-stage axial compressor environment. The study was performed at the Purdue 3-Stage Axial Compressor Facility (P3S) which models the final three stages of a production turbofan engine’s high-pressure compressor (HPC). The goal of this study was twofold; first, to design, implement, and validate a circumferentially traversable total pressure inlet distortion generation system, and second, to demonstrate data acquisition methods to characterize the inter-stage total pressure flow fields to study the propagation and attenuation of a one-per-rev total pressure distortion. The datasets acquired for this study are intended to support the development and validation of novel computational tools and flow physics models for turbomachinery flow analysis. Total pressure inlet distortion was generated using a series of low-porosity wire gauze screens placed upstream of the compressor in the inlet duct. The screens are mounted to a rotatable duct section that can be precisely controlled. The P3S compressor features fixed instrumentation stations located at the aerodynamic interface plane (AIP) and downstream and upstream of each vane row. Furthermore, the compressor features individually indexable stator vanes which can be traverse by up to two vane passages. Using a series of coordinated distortion and vane traverses, the total pressure flow field at the AIP and subsequent inter-stage stations was characterized with a high circumferential resolution. The uniformity of the honeycomb carrier was demonstrated by characterizing the flow field at the AIP while no distortion screens where installed. Next, the distortion screen used for this study was selected following three iterations of porosity reduction. The selected screen consisted of a series of layered screens with a 100% radial extent and a 120° circumferential extent. A detailed total pressure flow field characterization of the AIP was performed using the selected screen at nominal, low, and high compressor loading. Thermal anemometry was used to characterize the spatial variation in turbulence intensity at the AIP in an effort to further define inlet boundary conditions for future computational investigations. Two data acquisition methods for the study of distortion propagation and attenuation were utilized in this study. The first method approximated the bulk flow through each vane passage using a single rake measurement positioned near the center of the passage. All vane passages were measured virtually by rotating the distortion upstream by an increment equal to one vane passage. This method proved successful in tracking the distortion propagation and attenuation from the AIP up until the compressor exit. A second, more detailed, inter-stage flow field characterization method was used that generated a total pressure field with a circumferential resolution of 880 increments, or one every 0.41°. The resulting fields demonstrated the importance of secondary flows in the propagation of a total pressure distortion at the different loading conditions investigated. A second objective of this research was to document proposals and design efforts to outfit the existing P3S research compressor with a strain gage telemetry system. The purpose of this system is to validate and supplement existing blade tip timing data on the embedded rotor stage to support the development and validation of novel aeromechanical analysis tools. Integration strategies and telemetry considerations are discussed based on proposals and consultation provided by suppliers.




Key, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Engineering|Aerospace engineering

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