This paper presents the first detailed experimental performance data for a new centrifugal process compressor test rig. Additional numerical simulations supported by extensive pressure measurements at various positions allow an analysis of the operational and loss behavior of the entire stage and its components.

The stage investigated is a high flow rate stage of a single-shaft, multistage compressor for industrial applications and consists of a shrouded impeller, a vaneless diffuser, a U-bend and an adjoining vaned return channel. Large channel heights due to high flow rates induce the formation of highly three-dimensional flow phenomena and thus enlarge the losses due to secondary flows. An accurate prediction of this loss behavior by means of numerical investigations is challenging. The published experimental data offer the opportunity to validate the used numerical methods at discrete measurement planes, which strengthens confidence in the numerical predictions.

CFD simulations of the stage are initially validated with global performance data and extensive static pressure measurements in the vaneless diffuser. The comparison of the pressure rise and an estimation of the loss behavior inside the vaneless diffuser provide the basis for a numerical investigation of the flow phenomena in the U-bend and the vaned return channel. The flow acceleration in the U-bend is further assessed via the measured two-dimensional pressure field on the hub wall. The upstream potential field of the return channel vanes allows an evaluation of the resulting flow angle. Measurements within the return channel provide information about the deceleration and turning of the flow. In combination with the numerical simulations, loss mechanisms can be identified and are presented in detail in this paper.

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