Experimental characterization of high speed centrifugal compressor aerodynamic forcing functions

Kirk Gallier, Purdue University


The most common and costly unexpected post-development gas turbine engine reliability issue is blade failure due to High Cycle Fatigue (HCF). HCF in centrifugal compressors is a coupled nonlinear fluid-structure problem for which understanding of the phenomenological root causes is incomplete. The complex physics of this problem provides significant challenges for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques. Furthermore, the available literature fails to address the flow field associated with the diffuser potential field, a primary cause of forced impeller vibration. Because of the serious nature of HCF, the inadequacy of current design approaches to predict HCF, and the fundamental lack of benchmark experiments to advance the design practices, there exists a need to build a database of information specific to the nature of the diffuser generated forcing function as a foundation for understanding flow induced blade vibratory failure. The specific aim of this research is to address the fundamental nature of the unsteady aerodynamic interaction phenomena inherent in high-speed centrifugal compressors wherein the impeller exit flow field is dynamically modulated by the vaned diffuser potential field or shock structure. The understanding of this unsteady aerodynamic interaction is fundamental to characterizing the impeller forcing function. Unsteady static pressure measurement at several radial and circumferential locations in the vaneless space offer a depiction of pressure field radial decay, circumferential variation and temporal fluctuation. These pressure measurements are coupled with high density, full field measurement of the velocity field within the diffuser vaneless space at multiple spanwise positions. The velocity field and unsteady pressure field are shown to be intimately linked. A strong momentum gradient exiting the impeller is shown to extend well across the vaneless space and interact with the diffuser vane leading edge. The deterministic unsteady pressure field is found to be dominated by the blade-vane interaction. HCF concerns are illuminated by persistent pressure waves extending radially across the vaneless space and impacting the impeller pressure surface. Finally, the average impeller exit flow field is found to present a highly unsteady velocity field to the downstream vane row, challenging the common design assumption of a rapid mixing model for diffuser design.




Fleeter, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering|Aerospace materials

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