Recent stall inception investigations have indicated that short-length scale stall initiates when the interface between the tip gap flow and the approach flow spills forward of the leading edge of the adjacent blade. This hypothesis was investigated in the present work using both numerical and experimental results from a range of compressor geometries and speed. First, full annulus unsteady computations of R35 were used to generate contours of entropy at the casing. It was found that a large gradient in entropy, which marked the leakage fluid, was aligned with the leading edge plane at the stalling mass flow. It was also observed that the flow direction in the region of increased entropy was in the reverse axial direction. The interface between the approach fluid and the reverse-direction leakage flow was related to a region in which the axial component of the wall shear stress was zero. The axial location of this line was measured experimentally using a surface streaking method using two separate facilities. It was found that the location of this line is determined by a momentum balance between the approach fluid and the tip leakage fluid. Measurements were acquired with varied tip clearance, radial distortion, and centerline offset to support these conclusions. In all cases the zero axial shear line was found to move upstream with decreased flow coefficient, and was in close proximity to the rotor leading edge at the stalling mass flow.

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