Air breathing rocket engines require turbomachinery and ducting that is substantially lighter than that used in ground based or aerospace gas turbines. In order to reduce the weight of the axial compressor, the design of the inter-spool swan neck duct is targeted. In this paper a circumferential splitter blade is used to reduce loading and diffusion on the duct endwalls. The splitter and duct geometry are coupled and optimised together using 2D CFD. A design is selected that is 30% shorter than ducts that are currently used in aerospace gas turbines and the 3D flow features are investigated in further detail using an experimental rig and 3D CFD.

This paper shows that the “splittered” duct has 3 benefits over a conventional duct design: First, separation of the endwalls is prevented even at short duct lengths, this will reduce distortion into the downstream compressor. Second, losses generated by corner separations on structural struts can be reduced by 20%, enabling short ducts to achieve high performance. Third, splittered ducts are shown to be twice as robust to uncertain inlet flow conditions as conventional ducts. This allows a designer to target high performance short designs with reduced risk.

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