Compressor blades often have a small ‘spike’ in the surface pressure distribution at the leading edge. This may result from blade erosion, manufacture defects or compromises made in the original design process. This paper investigates the effect of these spikes on profile loss and presents a criterion to ensure they are not detrimental to compressor performance. In the first part of the paper two geometries of leading edge are tested. One has a small spike, typical of those found on modern compressors; the other has no spike, characteristic of an idealized leading edge. Testing was undertaken on the stator of a single-stage low speed compressor. The time-resolved boundary layer was measured using a hot-wire micro traversing system. It is shown that the presence of the small spike changes the time resolved transition process on the suction surface, but that this results in no net increase in loss. In the second part of the paper, spike height is systematically changed using a range of leading edge geometries. It is shown that below a critical spike height the profile loss is constant. If the critical spike height is exceeded, the leading edge separates and profile loss rises by 30%. Finally a criterion is developed, based on the total diffusion across the spike. Three different leading edge design philosophies are investigated. It is shown that if the spike diffusion factor is kept below 0.1 over the blade’s incidence range, performance is unaffected by leading edge geometry.

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