Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Nicole L. Key

Committee Chair

Nicole L. Key

Committee Member 1

John S. Bolton

Committee Member 2

Jun Chen

Committee Member 3

Tom Shih


The objectives of this research were to investigate the flow development inside an APU-style inlet and its effect on centrifugal compressor performance. The motivation arises from the increased applications of gas turbine engines installed with APU-style inlets such as unmanned aerial vehicles, auxiliary power units, and helicopters. The inlet swirl distortion created from these complicated inlet systems has become a major performance and operability concern. To improve the integration between the APU-style inlet and gas turbine engines, better understanding of the flow field in the APU-style inlet and its effect on gas turbine is necessary.

A research facility for the purpose of performing an experimental investigation of the flow field inside an APU-style inlet was developed. A subcritical air ejector is used to continuously flow the inlet at desired corrected mass flow rates. The facility is capable of flowing the APU inlet over a wide range of corrected mass flow rate that matches the same Mach numbers as engine operating conditions. Additionally, improvement in the system operational steadiness was achieved by tuning the pressure controller using a PID control method and utilizing multi-layer screens downstream of the APU inlet. Less than 1% relative unsteadiness was achieved for full range operation.

The flow field inside the rectangular-sectioned 90? bend of the APU-style inlet was measured using a 3-Component LDV system. The structures for both primary flow and the secondary flow inside the bend were resolved. Additionally, the effect of upstream geometry on the flow development in the downstream bend was also investigated.

Furthermore, a Single Stage Centrifugal Compressor research facility was developed at Purdue University in collaboration with Honeywell to operate the APU-style inlet at engine conditions with a compressor. To operate the facility, extensive infrastructure for facility health monitoring and performance control (including lubrication systems, secondary air systems, a throttle system, and different inlet configurations) were built. Additionally, three Labview programs were developed for acquiring the compressor health monitoring, steady and unsteady pressure and strain data.

The baseline, steady aerodynamic performance map was established. Additionally, the unsteady pressure field in the compressor was investigated. Steady performance data have been acquired from choke to near surge at three different corrected speeds from 90% to 100% corrected speed in 5% increments. The performance of the compressor stage was characterized using total pressure ratio (TPR), total temperature ratio (TTR), and isentropic efficiency. The impeller alone and diffuser along performance were also investigated, and the high loss regions in the compressor were identified.

At last, the compressor unsteady shroud pressure was investigated at 100% corrected speed in both the time domain and frequency domain. Results show strong pressure components in relation to the shaft frequency (SF). The impeller has 17 main blades and 17 splitter blades, and introduces pressure fluctuations at 17SF and its harmonics. Additionally, the diffuser has a vane count of 25 and results in pressure spectra of 59SF (17+17+25) due to the interactions between the impeller and diffuser.