This work investigates the unsteady fluctuation of inducer recirculation stemming from the diffuser stall that occurs near the surge condition. Experiments and unsteady numerical simulation were utilized for the investigation.

Inducer recirculation is known to occur near the surge occurrence flow rate, where the flow rate has a positive slope of the performance curve and the recirculation extends to the upstream of the impeller inlet when decreasing the flow rate more. However, few papers have investigated the unsteady phenomenon of the recirculation, even though the surge is what causes it. Clarifying the recirculation phenomenon is essential in terms of expanding the operation range to the lower flow rate for centrifugal turbomachinery. This was our motivation for investigating the unsteady oscillation phenomenon of the inducer recirculation.

We investigated a single-stage centrifugal blower with the maximum pressure rise ratio of 1.2 and focused on the flow rates near surge occurrence. The blower was equipped with an open type centrifugal impeller, a vane-less diffuser, and a scroll casing. The blower performance and pressure time-history data were obtained by experiments. Unsteady simulations using large eddy simulation (LES) were conducted to investigate the flow field in the blower for each flow rate.

The obtained performance curve showed that the positive slope of the pressure rise at the lower flow rate was due to the impeller stall and that the inducer recirculation extending upstream of the suction pipe near the slope of the curve was flat. LES analysis revealed that this inducer recirculation had two typical fluctuation peaks, one at 20% of the rotation frequency and the other at 95%. We also found that the stall cell at the impeller inlet propagated in the circumferential direction and swirled at almost the same frequency as the impeller rotation. In addition, the fluctuation at the diffuser derived from the diffuser rotating stall propagated to the suction pipe.

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