Using laser Doppler anemometry, two components of the gas velocity have been measured at the inlet of a centrifugal compressor impeller, operated at speeds typical of service conditions for a medium-sized turbocharger. The flow was found to be unstable, especially adjacent to the suction side of the blades, such that two predominant conditions existed in the flow. The unstable flow is illustrated in the paper by distributions of relative velocity and relative flow angle, and the effects of different operating conditions on these distributions are examined. The instability is believed to be caused by a pre-stall condition as the compressor operating point approaches a fully stalled condition which occurs during surge.

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