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Title: Inlet recirculation in radial compressors
Author: Schreiber, Christoph
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 0979
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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Deficient performances of turbocharger compressors inside turbo-charged engines limit the behaviour of the drive train. This problem has shifted the design space for compressors towards their performance at part-speed and low-flow conditions. The most dominant feature of these flow conditions is inlet recirculation. It causes a large portion of flow to be expelled through the rotor inlet, creating a blockage ring on the casing. While on the one hand, inlet recirculation is the main loss-source at low-speed and low-flow within centrifugal compressors, on the other hand, it also keeps the compressors functioning because it reduces incidence. This thesis aimed towards increasing the understanding of inlet recirculation, with the scope on improving the part-speed, low-flow performance of automotive turbocharger compressors. The phenomenon was investigated regarding its key features, the conditions at which it occurs and its impact on performance. Furthermore, a reduced order model was derived and the influence of the tip gap size as a design parameter was analysed. The research was carried out on an automotive turbocharger compressor which was investigated experimentally and numerically. Inlet recirculation is a phenomenon which takes place in the tip region of the rotor, extending far downstream and far upstream of the leading edge. The flow within the recirculation bubble features a strong positive swirl component, affecting the work input into the machine. The phenomenon is non-periodic in a time-averaged sense. An investigation of the rotor flow-field regarding inlet recirculation, carried out for the first time, revealed that the starting point of inlet recirculation is located far inside the rotor passage. An analysis based on mass, momentum and energy allowed the derivation of a low-order model to account for inlet recirculation in preliminary design. In the compressor map, inlet recirculation was present over 40% of the map width at low speeds. It maintained its presence with increasing rotor speed beyond the point where the inlet flow became transonic. The losses in the inlet recirculation zone were shown to be up to 35% of the total compressor loss at low speed. A loss analysis showed that inlet recirculation was the main loss source at low-flow conditions. The tip clearance study showed that the size and intensity of inlet recirculation was independent of the tip gap size. Efficiency gains due to reduced tip leakage were marginalised by the presence of inlet recirculation but the rotor maintained enhanced pressure rise capabilities for reduced tip gap sizes.
Supervisor: Xu, Liping Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Turbomachinery ; Radial Compressor ; Inlet Recirculation