This paper discusses the unsteady effects associated with the impeller/diffuser interaction on the internal flow field and aerodynamic performance of a centrifugal compressor. In centrifugal compressors with a vaned diffuser, the flow field is inherently unsteady due to the influence of interaction between the impeller and the diffuser, and the unsteadiness of the flow field can often have a great influence on the aerodynamic performance of the compressor. Especially in high-load compressors, it is considered that large unsteady effects are produced on the compressor performance with a strong flow unsteadiness. The unsteady effect on aerodynamic performance of the compressor has not been fully revealed yet, and sometimes the steady-state RANS simulation finds it difficult to predict the compressor performance.
In this study, numerical simulations have been conducted for a transonic centrifugal compressor with a vaned diffuser. The unsteady effects were clarified by comparing the numerical results between a single-passage steady-state RANS analysis and a full-annulus unsteady RANS analysis. The comparison of simulation results showed the difference in entropy generation in the impeller. The impingement of diffuser shock wave with the impeller pressure surface brought about a cyclic increase in the blade loading near the impeller trailing edge. Accordingly, with increasing tip leakage flow rate, a second tip leakage vortex was newly generated in the aft part of the impeller, which resulted in additional unsteady loss generation inside the impeller.