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Chinese Journal of Aeronautics, (2018), 31(6): 1222–1231

Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics


& Beihang University
Chinese Journal of Aeronautics
cja@buaa.edu.cn
www.sciencedirect.com

Mechanism of stall and surge in a centrifugal


compressor with a variable vaned diffuser
Xiang XUE, Tong WANG *, Tongtong ZHANG, Bo YANG

Gas Turbine Research Institute, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China

Received 19 June 2017; revised 7 September 2017; accepted 11 December 2017


Available online 12 April 2018

KEYWORDS Abstract To expand the stable operating range of compressors, understanding the mechanism of
Centrifugal compressor; flow instability at low flow rates is necessary. In this paper, the mechanism of stall and surge in a
Flow instability; centrifugal compressor with a variable vaned diffuser is experimentally investigated, where the dif-
Stall; fuser blade setting angle can be adjusted. Many dynamic pressure transducers are mounted on the
Surge; casing surface of the compressor. From the design condition to surge, dynamic pressure data is
Vaned diffuser recorded throughout the gradual process. According to the signal developing status, the typical
modes of compressor instability are defined in detail, such as stall, mild surge, and deep surge. A
relatively high-frequency stall wave originates in the impeller and propagates to the diffuser, and
finally stimulates a deep surge in the compressor. The compressor behavior during surge differs
at different diffuser vane angles. When the diffuser vane angle is adjusted, both the unstable form
and the core factor affecting the overall machine stability change. A specific indicator is proposed to
measure the instability of each component in a compressor, which can be used to determine the best
region for stability extension technologies, such as a holed casing treatment, in different compressor
applications.
Ó 2018 Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Production and hosting by Elsevier Ltd. This is
an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

1. Introduction has some advantages, such as single-stage high pressure ratio,


compact structure, light weight, and so on. With the increasing
A centrifugal compressor is often used as the core component demand for high performance, manufacturers need to design
of a turbocharger or air conditioning system, which is regarded more complex compressor components with wider operating
as an indispensable fluid machine in the industrial production. ranges. The flow instability at low flow rates can lead to a high
Compared with an axial compressor, a centrifugal compressor aerodynamic loss and even structural damage. It is therefore
important for in-depth understanding of the mechanisms that
lead to unstable flow behaviors in centrifugal compressors.
* Corresponding author.
Generally, there are two different kinds of unstable flow
E-mail address: twang@sjtu.edu.cn (T. WANG).
behaviors which can lead to stall. One is the modal-type wave
Peer review under responsibility of Editorial Committee of CJA.
which has a long wave length and its traveling speed is about
20%–50% of the impeller rotating speed.1 The other is the
spike-type wave with a short wave length. The specific kinds
Production and hosting by Elsevier of operating conditions which are known to trigger the two

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cja.2018.04.003
1000-9361 Ó 2018 Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Production and hosting by Elsevier Ltd.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Mechanism of stall and surge in a centrifugal compressor 1223

Nomenclature

A area (m2) Subscripts


a sound speed (m/s) 1 impeller inlet
b width (mm) 2 impeller outlet
D diameter (mm) 3 diffuser inlet
f frequency (Hz) 4 diffuser outlet
l length (m) c channel
N impeller rotating speed (r/min) des design condition
p pressure (kPa) dif diffuser
Q flow rate (kg/s) H Helmholtz
R radius (mm) imp impeller
V volume (m3) in inlet duct
Z blade number out outlet duct
e total to static pressure ratio p plenum
g polytropic efficiency r impeller rotation
r standard deviation

types of waves have been analyzed by Day.2 The spike-type sary part of mild surge, and the diffuser stall always indicates
disturbance wave was firstly discovered in a turbocharger com- deep surge. At high rotating speeds, mild surge causes the dif-
pressor by Spakovszky and Roduner.3 However, it is yet to be fuser stall, which triggers deep surge in turn.11 Some special
determined which one of the two kinds of stall waves would unstable flow modes, such as mild surge and deep surge, at dif-
occur prior to stall in different situations. ferent rotating speeds were obtained in a centrifugal compres-
With regards to surge, it is divided into two different types, sor by Zheng et al.12 The effect of volute was paid attention to
which are mild surge and deep surge, based on the pulsation in their experiments. Moreover, the influence of the diffuser
amplitude of dynamic parameters and whether backflow vane setting angle on performance characteristics was
occurs or not.4–6 In general, when mild surge occurs, the signal researched by Tamaki.13 The standard deviation of measured
of dynamic parameters, such as pressure and velocity, is data can be used as an indicator to determine precisely when
approximately sinusoidal and oscillates slightly at the Helm- a centrifugal compressor suffers surge.14 In addition, the hys-
holtz frequency. This frequency is considered to be related to teresis during the compressor’s return to the stable condition
the entire compressor system, which is generally within the from the stall or surge point should also be taken into consid-
range of 5–15 Hz.7 Meanwhile, deep surge always occurs more eration. When the system returns to the stable operating state,
suddenly and coincides with obvious backflow. However, the pressure ratio is not a single-valued function based on the
apart from these qualitative descriptions, more quantitative flow rate any more. It is related to the whole adjusting process,
descriptions should be proposed to distinguish between these which shows the nonlinear characteristic of the compressor
two typical surge modes. In this way, the two modes can be system. A lot of data about the hysteresis in a multistage com-
better defined. pressor system was used to obtain compressor characteristics
Much theoretical derivation about the mechanism of flow during surge.15
instability generation has been conducted. It has been consid- According to these previous experimental investigations,
ered by most early researchers that the transition from one research on the mechanism of flow instability has been pro-
unstable mode to another is associated with a specific operat- moted in recent years, since innovations continuously occurred
ing condition. For example, when the leakage flow is too large in many aspects, such as measuring method, data processing,
in a single-stage axial compressor, both spike wave and modal theoretical derivation, and so on. However, most of the works
wave occur prior to stall. The form of stall inceptions varies have been done in compressors with vaneless diffusers, while
with different operating conditions.2 A lumped parameter compressors with vaned diffusers have rarely been investigated
model was established by Greitzer.8 Based on the assumption experimentally, especially those with variable vaned diffusers.
of fluid inertia, the model explains the mechanism of suction A compressor with a variable vaned diffuser can better cope
and exhaust in axial compressors during surge. Meanwhile, a with variable operating conditions. In addition, the influence
dimensionless lumped parameter B was presented for describ- of the diffuser vane angle has always been neglected. Thus, it
ing the compressor behavior at low flow rates.9 It can deter- is important to obtain more details about stall and surge in this
mine the mode of instability. However, it ignores some kind of compressor. In addition, most experimental studies
detailed flow structures in the impeller, such as leakage flow, have focused on the behavior of stall or surge inceptions in
and is usually not used in the case of centrifugal compressors. the circumferential direction, but ignored the differences
The theoretical model was improved by Spakovszky,10 which between the signals at some specific radial locations, especially
can be used on centrifugal compressors. In the new model, those in the impeller. In this paper, an experimental study on
the interaction between the impeller and the diffuser vane is the mechanism of stall and surge in a centrifugal compressor
focused on. Among recent research, it has been suggested that with a variable vaned diffuser is carried out. The features of
the occurrence of leading edge stall in the impeller is a neces- stall and surge at different diffuser vane angles are presented,
1224 X. XUE et al.

and various modes of compressor instability are defined, such tions of these measuring instruments can be seen in Fig. 1,
as stall, mild surge, and deep surge. The effects of different dif- where some specific sizes are given in multiples of the inlet pipe
fuser vane angles on the transformation from stall to deep diameter (d).
surge are analyzed and discussed.
2.2. Dynamic test system
2. Test facility and instruments
Sixteen Kulite fast-response dynamic pressure transducers
The experiment is based on a centrifugal compressor with a (XCE-093) are mounted on the casing surface in the compres-
variable vaned diffuser, which is industrially used in sewage sor, as shown in Fig. 2. These dynamic pressure transducers
treatment systems. The main parameters of the tested compres- are mounted at different radial locations along the stream
sor are shown in Table 1. The diffuser vane angle (OGV) can direction, including the impeller region, the vaneless region,
be adjusted from –12° to 12°. and the vaned diffuser throat region. At almost each radial
location, two transducers are placed circumferentially in case
2.1. Performance test system one of them has a problem, and four transducers are mounted
circumferentially in the vaneless region marked as 5. Accord-
The schematic diagram of the performance test system is ing to the photo on the right side of Fig. 2, the tested compres-
shown in Fig. 1. The compressor is driven by an electric motor sor is with an asymmetric volute. The position relationship
of 90 kW, and the rotating speed is increased by using a gear between the dynamic measuring region and the volute is
box. Air is drawn into the compressor from the atmosphere shown. In addition, two dynamic pressure transducers are
and then discharged into the outlet silencer channel. The flow mounted on the inlet and outlet ducts, respectively. The mea-
rate is regulated by adjusting the throttle valve equipped on the suring range of these transducers is about 0–300 kPa.
outlet duct. Both the inlet and outlet pressures are measured The data of these dynamic pressure transducers is recorded
by a U-tube manometer with an absolute error within synchronously by a PCI-9215 acquisition card. The precision
±0.26 kPa. Both the inlet and outlet temperatures are mea- of the dynamic pressure measurement is about 1.5 kPa. To ver-
sured by a thermocouple with an absolute error within ±1.5 ify the accuracy of the experiment, the sampling frequency of
°C. A Venturi meter with an absolute error within ±0.064 each channel is set to 20 kHz so that the Blade Passing Fre-
kg/s is placed on the outlet duct. The specific installation loca- quency (BPF = 2440, 4880 Hz) can be captured. Note that
because the impeller blades include 8 full-length blades and 8
splitter blades, the BPF is 2440 Hz at the impeller inlet area
while 4880 Hz at other areas. Before the experiment, the
Table 1 Main parameters of dynamic pressure test system has been well calibrated.
centrifugal compressor. Although pressure data cannot be as intuitive as velocity
data, pressure transducers are easier to install on the rotating
Parameter Value
parts of compressors for analysis of internal flow structures,
D2 (mm) 318 and the features of stall or surge in compressors can also be
D1/D2 0.56 clearly captured. Due to leakage flow, reflux, and flow separa-
D3/D2 1.07
tion occurring at the tip clearance, an unstable flow always
D4/D2 1.67
b2/D2 0.076
originates near the tip prior to stall.16,17 The transducers are
Zimp 8+8 all mounted on the casing surface near the tip clearance, so
Zdif 11 that the unstable flow prior to stall or surge can be captured.
Ndes (r/min) 18300
Qdes (kg/s) 2.16 2.3. Pretreatment of dynamic signals
edes 1.8
Since these dynamic transducers are equipped with post-signal
amplifiers, the signal-to-noise ratio is greatly improved. How-
ever, some noises, such as electro-magnetic disturbances,
which are caused by the motor and the inverter, still exist in
the experiment. Therefore, it is necessary to filter original sig-
nals to reduce noises. For example, at a low flow rate, the Fast
Fourier Transformation (FFT) result of the original signal at
the impeller inlet is shown in Fig. 3, where the ordinate repre-
sents Power Spectral Density (PSD).
According to Fig. 3, in addition to the BPF and its multi-
plier, some relatively low-frequency components around the
rotational frequency (fr = 305 Hz) are clearly captured, which
are related to the unstable flow. To focus on the signals of
these frequency components in the time domain, low-pass fil-
tering is used to filter out BPF-related signals and few high-
frequency disturbances. The low-pass filter threshold is set to
2000 Hz, and a comparison between the original pressure sig-
Fig. 1 Sketch of performance test system. nal and the filtered signal at position 1-1 is shown in Fig. 4.
Mechanism of stall and surge in a centrifugal compressor 1225

Fig. 2 Layout of dynamic pressure transducers.

Fig. 3 FFT result of original signal at a low flow rate. Fig. 5 Compressor performance map under OGV = 0°.

nals at flow rates below 0.85Qdes are recorded during the


dynamic test.
The pressure ratio curves under five specific diffuser vane
angles are shown in Fig. 6. Both the surge line and hysteresis
are also shown. The surge line is the broken line that connects
the surge points under each diffuser vane angle. The hollow
points and dashed lines represent the process of gradually
recovering from unstable operating conditions. When the dif-
fuser vane angle is adjusted positively, the airflow incidence
angle at the diffuser inlet increases. Thus, surge occurs at a
lower flow rate.
Fig. 4 Comparison between original signal and filtered signal.

Through low-pass filtering, the precision of the dynamic pres-


sure measurement can be improved to 0.5 kPa.

3. Results and analysis

3.1. Performance test results

The compressor performance map under OGV = 0° can be


seen in Fig. 5. The polytropic efficiency reaches its maximum
value at the design condition. The total to static pressure ratio
increases along with the flow rate decreasing, until Q/Qdes
reduces to 0.76. The occurrence of stall always coincides with Fig. 6 Total to static pressure ratio curves under different
the peak of rising pressure ratio.14 The dynamic pressure sig- diffuser vane angles.
1226 X. XUE et al.

3.2. Definitions of two typical surge modes 3.2.1. Mild surge


Under OGV = 0°, the pressure signals at each radial location
As shown in Fig. 7, the back-pressure is in the form of a during mild surge at the operating condition point d3 are
stepped rise due to the intermittent closure of the outlet throt- shown in Fig. 8. Mild surge occurs prior to deep surge.
tle valve. The back-pressure curve is obtained by reading the The Helmholtz frequency is always considered as the mild
dynamic pressure data at the outlet duct every two seconds. surge dominant frequency.18 Thus, the Helmholtz frequency
The six operating conditions from I to VI are the six successive of this compression system is very important, and can be cal-
stages in the flow reduction process, and a surge occurs obvi- culated based on certain parameters considering the following
ously at the operating point d3. In Fig. 7, the abscissa means formula:
the number of impeller revolutions. A zero of the abscissa rep- sffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
resents the moment of surge occurring, and negative values a Ac
fH ¼ ð1Þ
represents the time prior to surge. In the experiment, when 2p Vp lc
the compressor enters the operating condition d3 from VI by
adjusting the outlet throttle, the compressor will suffer surge where according to Ref.12, Ac and lc are the equivalent cross-
due to the deterioration of the internal flow field. In this case, sectional area and length of the duct channels, respectively,
the back-pressure will be reduced during surge. However, the and Vp is the volume of the plenum.
back-pressure suffers a small reduction and then rebounds, fol- Since the exit total temperature during the experiment is
lowed by a sudden large drop. This phenomenon has reoc- 381.75 K, the speed of sound (a) is 391.4 m/s. Other geometric
curred during repeated experiments where two different parameters are shown in Table 2, in which 680.5 is taken as the
typical surge modes occur sequentially at the surge point, value of lc/Ac and 0.3 is taken as the value of Vp.
which are mild surge and deep surge. The Helmholtz frequency of the compression system is cal-
Combining surface appearances with dynamic pressure sig- culated to be 4.3 Hz, which is very close to the mild surge dom-
nals at some specific radial locations, these two typical surge inant frequency. The frequency can also be clearly captured in
modes can be distinguished in detail. During mild surge, the liq- the spectrum of these dynamic signals during mild surge. In
uid column of the U-tube fluctuates slightly, and the vibration of this experiment, the dominant frequency of mild surge is
the ducts is visible. The dynamic pressure signals at the impeller slightly higher than that of deep surge. In Ref.15, the calculated
inlet, diffuser inlet, and outlet duct are all approximate sinu- Helmholtz frequency approximates the dominant frequency
soidal vibrations with small amplitudes. On the contrary, during tested during mild surge, which is higher than that during deep
deep surge, the liquid column rises and falls violently. The back- surge. It is consistent with the result of this experiment.
pressure drops sharply accompanied by approximate sinusoidal When the ordinate of the dynamic signals during mild surge
vibration with a large amplitude, and a noticeable periodic noise in Fig. 7 is amplified, periodic pulsations with frequencies of
caused by the backflow could be heard clearly. In addition, the fr/3 and 3fr can be seen in Fig. 8, which are considered as stall
pressure fluctuation patterns at the impeller inlet and diffuser waves. Since these transducers are not completely at the same
inlet indicate the occurrence of reflux.14 According to Fig. 7, circumferential position, these signals in Fig. 8 have been
the amplitude of the pressure fluctuation at each position is sig- phase-converted, corresponding to the case at the same circum-
nificantly increased during deep surge, compared with that dur- ferential position. Such dynamic pressure signals in Fig. 8 illus-
ing mild surge. The level of the amplitude increasing at each trate that surge and stall occur alternately in the compressor,
radial location will be discussed later, which can also serve as which is similar to the result in Ref.13 Both a high-frequency
an important quantitative indicator of the distinction between stall wave with 3fr and a low-frequency stall wave with fr/3
mild surge and deep surge. Based on these differences, the two can be captured in the impeller, while the form of stall in the dif-
different modes of surge are defined. Once deep surge occurs, fuser is only a low-frequency stall. It is very noteworthy that the
the outlet valve will be turned up immediately to recover from pressure fluctuation mode in the impeller is significantly
the unstable condition to prevent serious accidents. different from that in the diffuser during mild surge.

Fig. 7 Characteristics of two typical surge modes.


Mechanism of stall and surge in a centrifugal compressor 1227

Fig. 8 Pressure signals at different radial locations during mild surge under OGV = 0°.

periodic sound caused by the backflow can be heard. The pres-


Table 2 Geometric parameters of
sure signals during deep surge shown in Fig. 10 are different
compression system.
from those during mild surge. A high-frequency stall occurs
Parameter Value in the diffuser during the transition process from mild surge
lin (m) 2.67 to deep surge. In many repeated experiments, a similar phe-
Ain (m2) 2.49  102 nomenon occurs in most cases. It can be considered that the
lin/Ain(m1) 107.2 occurrence of a high-frequency stall wave in the diffuser may
Vin (m3) 6.65  102 be the deep surge inception of the compressor.
lout (m) 11.58 According to Fig. 8, a high-frequency stall wave is firstly
Aout (m2) 2.02  102 observed in the impeller and the flow disturbance propagates
lout/Aout (m1) 573.3
downstream during mild surge. Then, according to Fig. 9, a
Vout (m3) 0.234
high-frequency stall wave occurs in the diffuser, and deep
surge breaks out. This time, the back-pressure drops sharply,
The pressure signals at four circumferential locations at this and the pressure fluctuation patterns at some specific radial
condition point are shown in Fig. 9. According to these cir- locations change. The pressure fluctuation at each radial loca-
cumferential pressure signals in the vaneless region between tion is also significantly enhanced. Thus, it can be deduced that
the impeller and the diffuser, the stall wave propagates in the a high-frequency stall wave originates in the impeller and
opposite direction of the impeller rotation, which is shown in propagates to the diffuser, which finally stimulates a deep
the upper right corner of Fig. 9. The stall wave propagates surge in the compressor. The phenomenon that the occurrence
in a counterclockwise direction, just in the opposite direction of a high-frequency stall in the diffuser can trigger a deep surge
of the impeller rotation. The propagating speed is calculated has been observed in a centrifugal compressor with a vaneless
as 1/3 of the impeller rotating speed based on the phase differ- diffuser at a high rotating speed.11 However, there is the new
ence. However, according to the radial pressure signals shown phenomenon that stall waves propagate downstream along
in Fig. 8, the stall wave also propagates in the flow direction. the flow direction, which is contrary to the previous theory
These propagation directions are mainly determined by the that stall waves just propagate circumferentially. Meanwhile,
corresponding crests and troughs of the dynamic signals at it is generally believed that flow instability occurs originally
adjacent locations. Especially for the low-frequency stall wave in the diffuser or the vaneless region between the impeller
with fr/3, this correspondence is easy to be observed, since this and the diffuser for a centrifugal compressor with a vaned dif-
low-frequency stall wave always occurs intermittently and has fuser. However, flow instability seems to occur originally in the
a relatively long period. In addition, it can be seen clearly that impeller and then propagates to the diffuser in this experiment.
the high-frequency stall does not occur in the vaneless region Thus, there are two questions that need to be understood. The
during mild surge, even if it has occurred throughout the first question is why flow instability originates in the impeller.
impeller. In most of the previous literature,3 it is considered The second question is how to measure the impact of a compo-
that a stall wave always originates in the vaneless region nent on the overall machine stability. In the following, these
instead of the impeller region. Therefore, this high-frequency two questions will be addressed accordingly.
stall wave needs to be highly concerned, and it shows that
instability occurs firstly in the impeller at this condition. 3.3. Pressure fluctuations at different positions

3.2.2. Deep surge In view of the mechanism of stall and surge generation, the
Immediately after mild surge, deep surge occurs. The parame- pressure fluctuation amplitude at each radial location during
ters at the outlet duct oscillate violently, and a noticeable the gradual process of entering deep surge is worthy of further
1228 X. XUE et al.

Fig. 9 Pressure signals at different circumferential locations in vaneless region during mild surge under OGV = 0°.

Fig. 10 Pressure signals at different radial locations during deep surge under OGV = 0°.

investigation. The standard deviation is used as an indicator to signals at different radial positions phase-converted, the
reflect the pressure fluctuation amplitude over a period of time. standard deviations are all at the same phase in the circum-
The standard deviation (r) is calculated based on 10000 data ferential direction, so that the radial differences can be
points collected continuously within 0.5 s at different measur- discussed.
ing points. The formula of the standard deviation is as follows: According to Fig. 11, from the pre-stall condition to deep
rffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi surge, the standard deviation of the pressure signal at the
1 Xn
r¼ i¼1 i
ðp  pÞ ð2Þ impeller middle-rear region is the largest, which corresponds
n to the phenomenon that flow instability originates in the
where pi represents the pressure values at different times and p impeller instead of the diffuser. If the standard deviation can
represents the average pressure during this period. be used to measure the impact of a component on the overall
Compared with a baseline at the design condition, the stability, the flow stability at the impeller middle-rear region
standard deviations at each position under different operat- may be the worst under OGV = 0°. In the numerical simula-
ing conditions are shown in Fig. 11. The eight different oper- tion result of a similar impeller,19 an unstable flow also origi-
ating conditions given in Fig. 11 correspond to the nates at the impeller middle-rear region. It shows that this
conditions marked in Fig. 7 respectively, including the oper- indicator can be used to determine the unstable region in the
ating points I-VI, mild surge, and deep surge. With the impeller at low flow rates.
Mechanism of stall and surge in a centrifugal compressor 1229

wave at the impeller inlet, with a similar period and a weaker


amplitude. The standard deviations at each radial location
are shown in Fig. 14(a). The position of the unstable point
moves downstream compared with that under OGV = 0°.
Thus, the mechanism of stall and surge generation is also
changed. When the diffuser vane angle is turned positively
causing the airflow incidence angle at the diffuser inlet to
increase, the aerodynamic load is increased, and the interac-
tion between the impeller and the vaned diffuser becomes
the core factor of stall or surge generation. Considering some
numerical simulation results on centrifugal compressors in
recent years,20,21 flow instability at the impeller outlet is also
closely associated with the tip leakage and vortex in the
impeller, and in this situation, the typical jet-wake structure
at the impeller outlet leads to a strong instability under the
influence of the diffuser blades, so that the unstable point
moves to the vaneless region between the impeller and the
Fig. 11 Pressure fluctuation amplitude of each radial location diffuser, which is confirmed by the details in Figs. 12 and
under OGV = 0°. 14 (a). Since an unstable flow originates there, both high-
frequency stall and mild surge occur originally in the diffuser,
and then transform into deep surge directly. Unlike the case
Based on the above analysis and discussion, the mechanism
of OGV = 0°, there is not a gradual process that this stall
of stall or surge generation under OGV = 0° can be deduced.
pattern propagates from the impeller to the diffuser during
Flow instability at the impeller middle-rear region, such as a
mild surge, and this kind of high-frequency stall occurring
tip leakage flow or vortex, may be the core factor affecting
in the diffuser can always trigger a deep surge.
the overall stability of the compressor. However, the specific
Under OGV = 12°, the pressure signals at each radial
form of this unstable flow still needs to be further confirmed
location during the mild surge at the operating point d5 in
by numerical simulation or visualization experiments. This will
Fig. 6 are shown in Fig. 13. A mild surge wave with the Helm-
be the next step of our research. In summary, an unstable flow
holtz frequency occurs originally at the impeller inlet, accom-
originates at the impeller middle-rear region, and a high-
panied by a modal-type stall wave. They can be observed at
frequency stall wave occurs firstly in the impeller during mild
each radial location of the compressor. The standard devia-
surge. Then the flow disturbance propagates downstream,
tions at each radial location are shown in Fig. 14(b). When
and a high-frequency stall occurs in the diffuser prior to deep
the diffuser vane angle is turned negatively causing the airflow
surge. The occurrence of the high-frequency stall can be con-
incidence angle at the diffuser inlet to decrease, the instability
sidered as the deep surge inception.
of the impeller leading-edge region is relatively large during
In term of the physical relationship, the violent pressure fluc-
mild surge. An unstable flow originates at the impeller inlet
tuations in the diffuser can directly lead to an imbalance for the
and extends to the overall machine, which is confirmed by
pressure distribution of the outlet piping system, since the dif-
the details in Fig. 13. Interestingly, this phenomenon is consis-
fuser is closer to the compressor outlet, and this pressure imbal-
tent with the results of some experiments and numerical simu-
ance is exactly the mechanism of surge occurring. Thus, a high-
lations in centrifugal compressors with vaneless diffusers.11,22
frequency stall occurring in the diffuser can always trigger a
The effect of the diffuser vane on the stability of the impeller
deep surge. However, according to the above analysis, this stall
is greatly reduced when the airflow incidence angle at the dif-
pattern originates in the impeller. It is the product of an unstable
fuser inlet is small. Except for the region where mild surge and
flow in the impeller, such as a tip leakage flow or vortex.
modal-type stall wave originates, the process of deep surge
occurring is similar to that under OGV = 0°.
3.4. Effects of different diffuser vane angles
According to Figs. 12 and 13, when the diffuser vane angle
is adjusted, both the form of unstable signals and the location
Since the diffuser type is a variable vaned diffuser, the diffuser of the original occurrence change, which implies a new mech-
vane angle may be an important factor affecting the mecha- anism of flow instability. The unstable region obtained by the
nism of stall and surge generation, which requires further anal- standard deviation analysis changes, which corresponds well to
ysis and discussion. The pressure signals at each radial position the dynamic test results. Thus, the standard deviation can be
under two different OGVs are shown in Figs. 12 and 13, used as an indicator to determine the effects of the stability
respectively. In these two cases, the standard deviation of each of individual components on the overall machine stability,
radial position is shown in Fig. 14. which can provide a guidance for methods of improving stabil-
Under OGV = 12°, the pressure signals at each radial ity in centrifugal compressors, such as casing treatment.23 For
location during a mild surge at the operating condition point example, if a holed casing treatment is used at the unstable
d1 in Fig. 6 are shown in Fig. 12. A mild surge wave with the point positioned by this method, instability will be well sup-
Helmholtz frequency is firstly captured in the diffuser inlet, pressed at unstable conditions.
accompanied by a high-frequency stall wave. It is hard to According to Figs. 11 and 14, under three specific diffuser
identify the phase difference between the pressure signals at vane angles, the amplitudes of the pressure fluctuations at each
different radial locations. Moreover, when the value of the radial location during deep surge are all increased by approx-
abscissa is about 50 revolutions, there is also a clear surge imately 30% compared with those during mild surge. The stan-
1230 X. XUE et al.

Fig. 12 Pressure signals at different radial locations during mild surge under OGV = 12°.

Fig. 13 Pressure signals at different radial locations during mild surge under OGV = 12°.

Fig. 14 Pressure fluctuation amplitudes of each radial location under OGV = 12° and 12°.
Mechanism of stall and surge in a centrifugal compressor 1231

dard deviation can also serve as an important quantitative References


indicator of the distinction between mild surge and deep surge.
1. Haynes JM, Hendricks GJ, Epstein AH. Active stabilization of
rotating stall in a three-stage axial compressor. J Turbomach
4. Conclusions
1994;116(2):226–39.
2. Day IJ. Stall inception in axial flow compressors. J Turbomach
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This research was supported by the National Natural Science 23. Liu XH, Sun D, Sun XF, Wang XY. Flow stability model for
fan/compressors with annular duct and novel casing treatment.
Foundation of China (No. 51276108).
Chinese J Aeronaut 2012;25(2):143–54.