trifugal compressors may operate for long periods of time with vaneless diffuser stall.Rotating stall in a vaneless diffuser generates a char-acteristic noise and vibration whose frequency is closeto the impeller rotating frequency. This noise and vi-bration can be minimized when operating at reducedload by allowing reduced condenser water tempera-ture.Stall noise and vibration can also be minimized by se-lecting a compressor whose full-load operating pointis far removed from the surge point.
In an impeller, rotating stall begins when the flow streampassing around one of the impeller blades separatesfrom the back of the blade. This happens when theangle-of-attack of the flow approaching the blade be-comes so large that the blade “stalls” in the same waythat an airfoil stalls.The flow angle increases as the flow decreases, so thelarge angle-of-attack that stalls the blade occurs whenthe flow is low. When the inlet PRVs are partly closed,the flow angle entering the impeller is reduced. Thisreduces the tendency of the impeller blades to stallwhen the flow is reduced.The tendency of the blades to stall increases as theimpeller outlet pressure increases. At border-line flowangles, stall only occurs when the impeller outlet pres-sure is high; i.e., when the compressor head is high.The flow separation behind a stalled blade reducesthe volume of flow in the passage behind the blade. Itmay even cause some of the flow to reverse itself andflow back out of the passage. This reduced (possiblyreversed) flow increases the angle of the flow at anadjacent blade, causing the adjacent blade to stall. Thestall of the second blade lowers the flow angle at thefirst blade, thereby restoring normal unstalled flowaround the first blade. Thus the stall moves from bladeto blade around the impeller. The stall is said to “ro-tate” around the impeller, hence the name “rotatingstall”.Several impeller blades usually stall at the same timeso that multiple stalls rotate around the impeller. Whentoo many blades stall, or too much of the flow re-verses in the stalled passages, all impeller flow stops.When this happens, the higher pressure in the con-denser forces refrigerant to flow backwards, from thecondenser, thru the diffuser, thru the impeller, to theevaporator. This complete reversal of flow, from thecondenser to the evaporator, is called a “surge”.Rotating stall in an impeller is sometimes called “in-cipient surge” because impeller stall occurs quite closeto the surge point on a compressor performance map.Once an impeller begins to stall, only a small decreasein flow or increase in head will stall the impeller com-pletely, and cause the compressor to surge.
Vaned Diffuser Stall
Rotating stall in vaned diffusers also occurs near thesurge point and acts the same way as impeller stall.When one diffuser vane stalls, the stalled flow in thepassage behind the vane causes an adjacent vane tostall. This ends the stall of the first vane. Multiple stallsrotate from vane to vane
Vaneless Diffuser Stall
Rotating stall in a vaneless diffuser is quite differentfrom the other two kinds of stall. Vaneless diffuser stallcan begin some distance from the surge point, andtypically occurs when the compressor PRVs are partlyclosed. Vaneless diffusers have no airfoil blades orvanes that can be “stalled”.Instead, recirculating “eddies” form in a vaneless dif-fuser when the flow is reduced and/or the head is in-creased. These eddies are called “stall cells” becausethey affect the diffuser flow in much the same way asstalled diffuser vanes do.When an eddy forms in a vaneless diffuser, the alteredflow on one side of the eddy causes the eddy to movesideways. The eddy moves (rotates) around the dif-fuser similar to the way a vane stall rotates around avaned diffuser. Several eddies usually form and rotatearound a vaneless diffuser at the same time. If the flowpage 2