The effect of a curvilinear element blade for an open-type centrifugal impeller on stator performance was investigated by experiment using an actual single stage compressor. This investigation focused on the stator part performance located at the downstream of the impeller for both a vane-less diffuser and a vaned diffuser.

Centrifugal compressors are widely used in various industrial plants, and some customers require higher stage performance. The curvilinear element blade technique, which is one of the key techniques for increasing the efficiency of closed-type centrifugal impellers, was investigated, and it effected an increase in stator efficiency. For this reason, the effect of the curvilinear element blade for the open-type centrifugal impeller was investigated. Our previous study reported that the curvilinear element blade with the open-type impeller increased the impeller efficiency by decreasing the loss derived from the impeller tip leakage flow with the parameter study of the curvilinear element blade geometries using numerical simulations. This paper reports the results of the experimental verifications using the geometries from the previous report.

Experimental results indicated that the compressor stage efficiency increased by 0.7% compared with that of the conventional impeller, which has a linear element blade by using the vane-less diffuser. However, a rotating stall occurred at a higher flow rate than that of the conventional case in the vane-less diffuser. This is due to the decrease of the impeller outlet flow angle derived from the effect of the curvilinear element blade, which makes the velocity distribution equal and reduces the blockage regions near the shroud side.

On the other hand, the curvilinear element blade impeller could increase the stage efficiency by 1.2% over the conventional impeller by using the vaned diffuser. This is due to not only the impeller performance increase but also the diffuser performance increase derived from the equality of the flow distributions by the curvilinear element blade. In addition, there was no diffuser rotating stall.

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