Effects of Tip Clearance on Stall Inception in a Multistage Compressor

Reid A. Berdanier, Natalie R. Smith, Anna M. Young, Nicole L. Key

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)


Rotor tip clearance height and the associated tip leakage flow have a significant effect on the performance and stability of compressors. Existing studies considering tip clearance effects on stability have been primarily limited to low-speed compressors, and many of these evaluated single-stage machines, which may not adequately represent stall trends for engine-scale compressors. Furthermore, test campaigns for engine-scale compressors cannot provide instrumentation accessibility required for detailed stage performance and stall investigations. Using results collected from a three-stage intermediate-speed axial compressor with appreciable density rise, this study addresses these needs. In this paper, three rotor tip clearances are tested, ranging from 1.5 to 4% span (1 to 3% chord). Previous studies have primarily shown a transition from short-length-scale spikes to long-length-scale modes as the clearance is increased, whereas the present study shows the opposite: a transition from modes to spikes with increased tip clearance. As a result, these data emphasize that a definitive trend does not exist between the stall inception mechanism and increasing tip clearance. Instead, the clearance effects alter stage matching with speed and change the stall inception mechanism. These results also elicit future research by preliminarily suggesting that stall inception mechanisms may be predictable from steady performance measurements collected in the stalling stage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-317
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Propulsion and Power
Issue number2
Early online date6 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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