Experimental measurements in a linear cascade with tip clearance are complemented by numerical solutions of the three-dimensional Navier-Stokes equations in an investigation of tip leakage flow. Measurements reveal that the clearance flow, which separates near the entry of the tip gap, remains unattached for the majority of the blade chord when the tip clearance is similar to that typical of a machine. The numerical predictions of leakage flow rate agree very well with measurements and detailed comparisons show that the mechanism of tip leakage is primarily inviscid. It is demonstrated by simple calculation that it is the static pressure field near the end of the blade which controls chordwise distribution of the flow across the tip. Although the presence of a vortex caused by the roll-up of the leakage flow may affect the local pressure field, the overall magnitude of the tip leakage flow remains strongly related to the aerodynamic loading of the blades.

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