The effects of axial casing grooves on the performance and flow structures in the tip region of an axial low speed fan rotor have been studied experimentally in the JHU refractive index-matched liquid facility. The four-per-passage semicircular grooves are skewed by 45° in the positive circumferential direction, and have a diameter of 65% of the rotor blade axial chord length. A third of the groove overlaps with the blade front, and the rest extends upstream. These grooves have a dramatic effect on the machine performance, reducing the stall flow rate by 40% compared to the same machine with a smooth endwall. However, they reduce the pressure rise at high flow rates. The flow characterization consists of qualitative visualizations of vortical structures using cavitation, as well as stereo-PIV (SPIV) measurements in several meridional and (z,θ) planes covering the tip region and interior of the casing grooves. The experiments are performed at a flow rate corresponding to pre-stall conditions for the untreated machine. They show that the flow into the downstream sides of the grooves and the outflow from their upstream sides vary periodically. The inflow peaks when the downstream end is aligned with the pressure side (PS) of the blade, and decreases, but does not vanish, when this end is located near the suction side (SS). These periodic variations have three primary effects: First, substantial fractions of the leakage flow and the tip leakage vortex (TLV) are entrained periodically into the groove. Consequently, in contrast to the untreated flow, The TLV remnants remain confined to the vicinity of the entrance to the groove, and the TLV strength diminishes starting from the mid-chord. Second, the grooves prevent the formation of large scale backflow vortices (BFVs), which are associated with the TLV, propagate from one blade passage to the next, and play a key role in the onset of rotating stall in the untreated fan. Third, the flow exiting from the grooves causes periodic variations of about 10° in the relative flow angle around the blade leading edge, presumably affecting the blade loading. The distributions of turbulent kinetic energy provide statistical evidence that in contrast to the untreated casing, very little turbulence originating from a previous TLV, including the BFVs, propagates from the PS to the SS of the blade. Hence, the TLV-related turbulence remain confined to the entrance to groove. Elevated, but lower turbulence is also generated as the outflow from the groove jets into the passage.

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