The present paper numerically and experimentally investigates the stall inception mechanisms in a centrifugal compressor with volute. Current studies about stall inception pay more attention on the axial compressors than the centrifugal compressors; especially, the circumferential position of stall inception onset and the stall process in the centrifugal compressor with asymmetric volute structure have not been studied sufficiently yet. In this work, the compressor performance experiment was conducted and the casing wall static pressure distributions were obtained by seventy-two static pressure sensors firstly. Then, the full annular unsteady simulations were carried out at different stable operating points, and the time-averaged static pressure distributions were compared with the experimental results. Finally, the stall process of the compressor was investigated by unsteady simulations in detail. Results show that the stall inception onset is determined by the impeller leading edge spillage flow, and the occurrence time of trailing edge backflow is prior to the leading edge spillage. The non-uniform static pressure circumferential distribution at impeller outlet induced by volute tongue causes the two stall inception regions locating at certain circumferential positions, which are 120° and 300° circumferential positions at impeller leading edge, corresponding to the circumferential static pressure peak and bulge regions at impeller outlet, respectively. In detail, at rotor revolution 2.86, a small disturbance that the incoming/tip clearance flow interface is perpendicular to axial direction occurs at 120° position, but this disturbance did not cause the compressor stall. Then at revolution 7, the first stall inception zone (spillage region) occurs at 120° position, causing the compressor stall with positive pressure ratio performance. At approximately revolution 23, the second stall inception zone occurs at about 300° position; however, both the intensity and size of this stall inception zone are smaller than those of the first stall inception zone. These two stall inception zones are not moving along circumferential direction because the stall inception circumferential position is dominated by the impeller outlet static pressure distribution. Even that, the obvious low frequency signals appear after the spillage crossing two blade leading edges; because at this moment, the spillage vortex caused by the tip leakage flow begins to shed. However, due to the asymmetric structure limitation, this vortex cannot move across full annular. Furthermore, the spillage vortexes cause the local low static pressure zone ahead of blade leading edge in the centrifugal compressor with volute, suggesting that the spillage can be predicted by the steady casing wall static pressure measuring. The development of blockage zones at impeller leading edge is also investigated quantitatively by analyzing the stall blockage effect.

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