The objective of this study is to investigate an internal separated flow between the blades of turbo machinery. Flow separation often causes undesirable phenomena such as an increase of the total pressure loss and a vibration of the machine. Therefore, understanding the characteristics of the separated flow in detail is very important for optimizing the machine to decrease the energy loss.

In general, the separated flow involves a reverse flow near the solid wall in the separation bubble and its reattachment of the further downstream location. Hence, a typical hot-wire sensor is not useful for measuring the internal separated flow between the blades because it can detect only the magnitude of the flow velocity, not the flow direction.

Based on this background, a self-developed tandem-type hot-wire sensor, by which both the magnitude and the flow direction can be detected, is used to measure the velocity field between the blades in this study. The tandem-type hot-wire sensor consists of two I-type hot-wire sensors and a small insulated elliptical cylinder placed between them. A calibration test is first conducted to validate its performance.

Subsequently, the separated flow between the blades is measured with the tandem-type hot-wire sensor. The experimental apparatus consists of a closed-type test section which is connected to the nozzle exit of a blowout-type wind tunnel. In this test section, a sample of blade is set up. In this study, experiments are conducted with three kinds of blades with the different shapes (i.e., experiments are performed under three different conditions): a constant blade thickness from the leading edge to the trailing edge (Blade 1), a constant blade thickness from the leading edge to trailing edge but a rounded leading edge (Blade 2) and a thin blade thickness at the leading and trailing edges (Blade 3).

In addition, the unsteady internal separated flow between the blades is also investigated by large-eddy simulation (LES) whose validity was fully confirmed in the previous study. The flow field and dissipation rate of the turbulent kinetic energy obtained by the simulation are discussed.

Experimental and numerical results show that Blade 3 has a smallest separation bubble around the leading edge than that of Blade 1 and 2, and shows a smallest root mean square (RMS) value for the velocity fluctuation near the reattachment point than them. These differences of the size of separation bubble and velocity fluctuation were considered to be resulted in a decrease of the kinetic energy loss in the test section with Blade 3. Therefore, it can be concluded that the non-uniform thickness of the blade causes the decrease of the energy loss around the blade.

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