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AXIAL FLOW
AXIAL FLOW
COMPRESSORS
COMPRESSORS

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• Axial compressor is a pressure
producing machine.
• This is achieved by energy transfer
from rotor to fluid.
• The rotor is run by an electric motor
or a gas-turbine.
• Multistage axial compressors are used
in almost all GTP nowadays.

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• Especially aircraft power plants use
axial flow compressors.
• It is mainly due to
• higher speeds
• multistaging
• higher pressure ratios (r = 20:1)
• long-range applications

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The main requirements of aircraft
gas-turbine power plant are
(i) high air-flow capacity per unit frontal
area,
(ii) high pressure ratio per stage,
(iii) high efficiency and
(iv) discharge direction suitable for
multistaging.

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Further, what is expected of a compressor in
GTP are

To meet rapid engine acceleration

To accommodate wide range of flight conditions

A high level of aerodynamic performance

To accommodate varying requirement of mass
flow rates

Minimum length and weight

Simple mechanical design

Mechanically rugged and must have high
reliability.

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A typical multistage axial flow
compressor (Rolls-Royce, 1992).

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Schematic representation of an axial flow compressor

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Fig.9.1 Axial compressor construction
Fig.9.1 Axial compressor construction


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Fig.9.2 An axial flow compressor stage

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Fig.9.3 Velocity triangles for a compressor stage
Fig.9.3 Velocity triangles for a compressor stage


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• For constant axial velocity through
the stage:

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• Equations 9.7 and 9.13 give
• This relation can also be presented in
another form using Eqs.9.5 and 9.11,

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• For constant axial velocity through the
stage:

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• Equations 9.7 and 9.13 give
• This relation can also be presented in
another form using Eqs.9.5 and 9.11,

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Table 9.1 Variations occurring in
an axial flow compressor

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• We have seen the entry and exit velocity
triangles based on mean flow characteristics.
• The main idea of studying the velocity triangle is
to understand first the flow behaviour
• Secondly, we will be able to understand where
are the losses taking place.
• Thirdly, it will help us to improve design.

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Assumption : c
a
remains constant.
• In order to maintain the axial velocity
from the first stage to the last stage
the area of the flow is made
converging as pressure is increasing
in every stage.
Expression for Work Input
Expression for Work Input

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The peripheral velocity in terms of α
1
and
β
1
can be written as
• In terms of angle β, it can be written as
( )
( )
( )
( )
( )
1 2
1 2
1 2
2 2
1 1
tan tan
tan tan
tan tan
tan tan
α α
α α
β α
β α
− ·
− ·
− ·
+ ·
+ ·
a
a a
t t
a
a
uc
c c u
c c u W
c
c u
( )
2 1
tan tan β β − ·
a
uc W

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• According the Euler's energy equation
(Eq.3.13)

For axial flow compressors (u = u
1
= u
2
), the
above equation will reduce to
( ) ( ) ( )
]
]
]
]

− + − + − ·
              
III II I
2
1
2
1
2
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
1
w w u u c c E
( ) ( )
2
2
2
1
2
1
2
2
2
1
2
1
w w c c W − + − ·

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For higher η
c
,W
c
should be
minimum.
• For this proper care in the design of
blade and flow geometries are very
important

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As seen, c
a
is not uniform from first to last stage.
• It is due to

secondary flows

growth in boundary layers on the hub and casing
Fig.9.4 Axial velocity distributions along the blade heights in the first and Fig.9.4 Axial velocity distributions along the blade heights in the first and
last blade rows of a multistage compressor (typical curves) last blade rows of a multistage compressor (typical curves)

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The degree of distortion of c
a
on the last
stage will depend on the number of stages.
• Assuming unit mass flow rate
• It can also be expressed as
( )
1 2 t t
c c u W − ·
( )
( )
( ) ( ) { ¦
2 2 1 1
2 1
1 2
tan tan tan tan
tan tan
tan tan
β α β α
β β
α α
+ − + ·
− ·
− ·
a a
a
a
c c u
uc
uc W

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• Substituting from Eq.9.16
( ) { ¦
2 1
2 2
1 1
tan tan
tan tan
tan tan
1
β α
β α
β α
φ
+ − ·
+ ·
+ · ·
a
a
c u u W
c
u

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The air angles β
2
and α
1
are fixed by

the cascade geometry of the rotor blades

the upstream blade row.

Assuming (tan α
1
+ tan β
2
) are more or
less equal
W = u
2
– k c
a
• The above equation relates w to axial
velocity.
• Now let us see how W is affected by
increasing or decreasing c
a
.

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W = u
2
– k c
a
 If c
a
is increased by c
a
then
W = u
2
– k (c
a
+ c
a
)

W will decrease.
 If c
a
is decreased by c
a
W = u
2
– k (c
a
– c
a
)

W will increase.
Fig.9.5 Effect of axial
velocity on the stage velocity
triangles and work

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• It can be seen that the work
absorbing capacity
increases in the hub and tip
regions.
• Decreases in the central
region.
• The expected increase in
the WAC, is not achieved in
practice due to friction and
solid fluid interaction
which causes more losses.
• Therefore, the stage WAC is
less in actual.
Fig.9.4 Axial velocity distributions
along the blade heights in the first
and last blade rows of a
multistage compressor (typical
curves)

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• 1 – 2’ – 3’ → Isentropic compression
(Static pressure)
• 1 – 2 – 3 → Actual compression
(Static pressure)
• 1 – 2 – 03’ →Isentropic compression
(Stagnation pressure)

Enthalpy rise in rotor h
2
– h
1

Enthalpy rise in stator h
3
– h
2

Total enthalpy rise (static) h
3
– h
1

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Fig.9.6 Enthalpy--entropy diagram of an
axial compressor
Fig.9.3 Velocity triangles for a Fig.9.3 Velocity triangles for a
compressor stage compressor stage

At rotor inlet c
1
is less and w
1
is large

At rotor exit c
2
is large and w
2
is small

At stator (diffuser) exit c
3
will be close to c
1

• Therefore

2
1
and
2
1
2
2 2 02
2
1 1 01
c p p
c p p
+ ·
+ ·

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As can been seen h
02
= h
03
• Process 1 – 2 and 2 – 3 takes place with
increase in entropy
• Similarly, it should be noted that

2
1
2
1
2
3 3
2
2 2
c h c h + · +

2
1
2
1

2
2 2
2
1 1
rel 02 rel 01
w h w h
h h
+ · +
·

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Fig.9.6 Enthalpy--entropy diagram of an
axial compressor
01 03
01 03'
actual
ideal

T T
T T
W
W
pc


· · η

W
actual
in terms of blade angle is given
as
• Knowing r
can be calculated

Then η
pc
can be calculated.
( )
( )
( ) ( )
2
2
2
1
2
1
2
2
2 1
1 2 actual
2
1
2
1
tan tan
tan tan
w w c c
uc
uc W
a
a
− + − ·
− ·
− ·
β β
α α
01 03'
isen
h h h − · ∆

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For performance evaluation, some dimensionless
performance coefficients are defined. They are:
(i) Flow coefficient (φ)
(ii) Rotor pressure loss coefficient (Y
rel
)
(iii) Rotor enthalpy loss coefficient (ξ
rel
)
(iv) Stator or diffuser pressure loss coefficient (Y
d
)
(v) Stator enthalpy loss coefficient (ξ
d
)
(vi) Loading coefficient (ψ
d
)

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• It is defined as the ratio of axial velocity to
peripheral speed of the blades
• Flow coefficient is sometimes called as
compressor-velocity ratio.
• It may be noted that φ is sensitive to changes in
angle of incidence, and as such it is a useful
parameter for representing the stalling
characteristics of the compressor.
u
c
a
· φ

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• It is defined as the ratio of the pressure
loss in the rotor due to relative motion of
air to the pressure equivalent of relative
inlet velocity
2
1
02 01

2
1
w
p p
Y
rel rel
rel
ρ

·

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• It is defined as the ratio of the difference
between the actual and isentropic enthalpy to the
enthalpy equivalent of relative inlet velocity
• Because of friction and churning, the enthalpy at
the outlet will be more and thereby more work
input will become necessary.
( )
2
1
' 2 2
2
1
' 2 2
2
1
2
1
w
T T C
w
h h
p
rel

·

· ξ

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• It is defined as the ratio of the pressure
loss in the diffuser due to flow velocity to
the pressure equivalent of actual inlet
velocity of the diffuser.
2
2
03 02

2
1
c
p p
Y
d
ρ

·

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• It is defined as the ratio of the difference
between the actual and isentropic enthalpy
the enthalpy equivalent of absolute
velocity of flow at diffuser inlet.
( )
2
2
' 3 3
2
2
' 3 3
2
1
2
1
c
T T C
c
h h
p
d

·

· ξ

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• It is defined as the actual stagnation
enthalpy rise in the stage to enthalpy
equivalent of peripheral speed of the rotor.
2 2
01 03
u
W
u
h h
·

· ψ

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• Substituting for W from Eq.9.22,

Loading coefficient in terms of
pc
can be
written as
( )
( ) ( )
( )
2
01 03
1 2 2 1
2
2 1
tan tan tan tan
tan tan
u
T T C
u
uc
p
a

·
− · − ·

· Ψ
α α φ β β φ
β β
( )
pc
p
u
T T C
η
2
01 ' 03

· Ψ

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• Some designers define the loading
coefficient as the ratio of stage work to the
blade kinetic energy
• But we will use ψ without the factor 2, i.e.
9.46.
2
2
1
u
W
· ψ

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• The degree of reaction prescribes the distribution
of the stage pressure rise between the rotor and
the diffuser blade rows.
• This in turn determines the cascade losses in
each of these blade rows.
• The degree of reaction for axial compressors can
also be defined in a number of ways: it can be
expressed either in terms of enthalpies, pressures
or flow geometry.

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• For an actual compressor stage the
degree of reaction is defined as

For c
1
= c
3
,
1 3
1 2
1 3
1 2
stage in the enthalpy of change Actual
rotor in the enthalpy of change Actual
T T
T T
h h
h h
R


·


·
·
( )
1 2 01 03 1 3 t t
c c u h h h h − · − · −

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• From Eq.9.33, we have
• Now, degree of reaction, R, can be
written as
( )
2
2
2
1 1 2
2
1
w w h h − · −
( )
1 2
2
2
2
1
01 03
1 2
2
t t
c c u
w w
h h
h h
R


·


·

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• Equation 9.50 can be further expressed in terms
of air angles.
• But
and
φ ·
u
c
a
( )
m
β β β tan tan tan
2
1
2 1
· +
( )
( )
( )
2 1
2 1
2
2
1
2 2
tan tan
2
1
tan tan 2
tan tan
β β
β β
β β
+

,
`

.
|
·


·
u
c
R
uc
c
R
a
a
a

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• Therefore,
• Equation 9.51 can be rearranged to give
• From Eq.9.27
m
R β φ tan ·
( ) ( )
2 1 1 1
tan tan tan tan
2
1
β α α β − − +

,
`

.
|
·
u
c
R
a
a
c
u
· +
1 1
tan tan α β

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• Therefore,
• This is a useful relation in terms of the geometry
of flow and can be used to study the effect of air
angles and the required cascade geometry (to
provide these air angles) on the degree of
reaction of an axial compressor stage.
( )
2 1
tan tan
2
1
2
1
β α −

,
`

.
|
− ·
u
c
R
a

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• Based on the R, it can be classified
into
(i) Low reaction stage
(ii) Fifty percent reaction stage
(iii) High reaction stage

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• For a low reaction
 p in rotor < p in diffuser
• Consider the Eq.
• Therefore,

tan α
1
– tan β
2
must be
positive

This means α
1
> β
2
Fig.9.3 Velocity triangles for a Fig.9.3 Velocity triangles for a
compressor stage compressor stage
( )
2 1
tan tan
2
1
2
1
β α −

,
`

.
|
− ·
u
c
R
a

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• Now you can look at it in
another way
Fig.9.3 Velocity triangles for a Fig.9.3 Velocity triangles for a
compressor stage compressor stage
( )
1 2
2 1
2
2
1
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
Now
tan
tan
t t
t t
a
t
a
t
w c
u
u
w
u
c
R
c
w
c
c
− − ·

,
`

.
|
− − ·
·
·
β
α

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• The above equation
relates R with respect to
swirl or the whirl
components approaching
the rotor and the
diffuser.

For low R, w
t1
< c
t2
• The corresponding h-s
diagram
Fig.9.7 Enthalpy-entropy diagram for a
low reaction stage (R < 1/2)

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• For 50% R, pressure rise
in the rotor and stator are
equal.
( )
( ) 2
1
2
2
1
2
1
1 2
2
2
2
1
1 3 1 2
1 3
1 2
·


·
− · −
·


·
t t
c c u
w w
R
h h h h
h h
h h
R
Fig.9.8 Enthalpy-entropy diagram
for a 50% reaction stage (R = ½)

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But we have already shown that
Fig.9.8 Enthalpy-entropy diagram
for a 50% reaction stage (R = ½)
( ) W c c u w w
t t
· − · −
1 2
2
2
2
1
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
2
1
2
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
1
2
1
2
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
1
2
1
2
2
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
c c w w
w w c c w w
w w c c W
− · −
− + − · −
− + − ·

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• Look from blade angles
• Similarly we can show that
• This means that the velocity
triangles at the entry and exit of
the rotor for of 50% R is
symmetrical.
Fig.9.8 Enthalpy-entropy
diagram for a 50% reaction
stage (R = ½)
2 1
2 1
tan tan
β α
β α
·
·
( )
2 1
tan tan
2
1
2
1
2
1
β α −

,
`

.
|
− · ·
u
c
R
a
1 2
β α ·

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The swirl components at
the entries of the rotor
and diffuser blade rows
are also same.
Fig.9.8 Enthalpy-entropy
diagram for a 50% reaction
stage (R = ½)
2 1
2 1
t t
t t
c w
w c
·
·

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For high reaction stage R > ½, I.e. ( p)
rotor
> ( p)
Diffuser

Therefore, α
1
< β
2
and w
t1
> c
t2
Fig.9.9 Enthalpy-entropy diagram
for a high reaction stage (R > ½)
Fig.9.10 High reaction stage
(R > ½, α
1
< β
2
)

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From the definition of
rotor enthalpy loss
coefficient
1 2
' 2 2
1 2
1 2
1
h h
h h
h h
h h
rel


− ·


·

η
Fig.9.11 Enthalpy-entropy diagram
for flow through rotor blade row
( )
rel
p
rel
rel
T T C
w
w h h
ξ η
ξ
1 2
2
1
2
1 ' 2 2
2
1
2
1

− ·

,
`

.
|
· −

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• From the above it can be
shown that rotor or blade
efficiency in terms of
enthalpy loss coefficient
• Similarly in terms of
pressure loss coefficient
Fig.9.11 Enthalpy-entropy diagram
for flow through rotor blade row

,
`

.
|

− ·
2
1
2
2
1
1
w
w
rel
rel
ξ
η

,
`

.
|

− ·
2
1
2
2
1
1
w
w
Y
rel
rel
η

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• In terms of enthalpy loss
coefficient
• Similarly in terms of
pressure loss coefficient
2 3
2 ' 3
h h
h h
D


· η
Fig.9.12 Enthalpy-entropy diagram for
flow through diffuser (stator) blade row

,
`

.
|

− ·
2
2
2
3
1
1
c
c
D
D
ξ
η

,
`

.
|

− ·
2
2
2
3
1
1
c
c
Y
D
D
η

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Aerodynamic losses occurring in the
cascade is grouped in to four categories.

Profile loss

Annulus loss

Secondary loss

Tip clearance loss
(For details please refer the book!!!)

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Fig.9.17 Energy flow diagram for an axial flow compressor stage

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• Unstable flow in axial compressors
can be due to two reasons:
(i) the separation of flow from the blade
surfaces called stalling, and
(ii) complete breakdown of the steady
through flow called surging.

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• Both these phenomena occur due to off-design
conditions of operation and are aerodynamically
and mechanically undesirable.
• Sometimes, it is difficult to differentiate
between operating conditions leading to stalling
and surging.
• It may be noted that the flow in some regions
stalls without surging taking place.
• Surging affects the whole machine while
stalling is a local phenomenon.

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Fig.9.23 Surging in compressors

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• As stated earlier, stalling is the separation
of flow from the blade surface.
• At low flow rates (lower axial velocities),
the incidence is increased as shown in
Fig.9.5.
• At large values of the incidence, flow
separation occurs on the suction side of
the blades which is referred to as positive
stalling.

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• Negative stall is due to the separation of flow
occurring on the pressure side of the blade due
to large values of negative incidence.
• However, in a great majority of cases this is not
as significant as the positive stall which is the
main subject under consideration in this section.
• In a high pressure ratio multistage compressor
the axial velocity is already relatively small in
the higher pressure stages on account of higher
densities.

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• In such stages a small deviation from the
design point causes the incidence to
exceed its stalling value and stall cells
first appear near the hub and tip regions.
• The size and number of these stall cells or
patches increase with the decreasing flow
rates.
• At very low flow rates they grow larger
and affect the entire blade height.

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• Large-scale stalling of the blades causes a
significant drop in the delivery pressure
which can lead to the reversal of flow or
surge.
• The stage efficiency also drops
considerably on account of higher losses.
• The axisymmetric nature of the flow is
also destroyed in the compressor annulus.

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• Figure 9.24 shows four blades (1, 2, 3 and 4) in
a compressor rotor.
• Owing to some distortion or non-uniformity of
flow one of the blades (say the third) receives
the flow at increased incidence.
• This causes this blade (number three) to stall.
• On account of this the passage between the third
and fourth blades is blocked causing deflection
of flow in the neighbouring blades.

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Fig.9.24 Stall propagation in a compressor blade row

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• As a result, the fourth blade again
receives flow at increased incidence and
the second blade at decreased incidence.
• Therefore, stalling occurs on the fourth
blade also.
• This progressive deflection of the flow
towards the left clears the blade passages
on the right on account of the decreasing
incidence and the resulting unstalling.

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• Thus the stall cells or patches move towards the
left-hand side at a fraction of the blade speed.
• In the relative system they appear to move in a
direction opposite to that of the rotor blades.
• However, on account of their (stall cell) lower
speed as compared to that of the rotor, they
move at a certain speed in the direction of the
rotation in the absolute frame of coordinates.

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• Rotating stall cells, develop in a variety of
patterns at different off-design conditions as
shown in Fig.9.25.
• The blades are subjected to forced vibrations on
account of their passage through the stall cells at
a certain frequency.
• The frequency and amplitude of vibrations
depend on the extent of loading and unloading
of the blades, and the number of stall cells.

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Fig.9.25 Rotating stall cells in axial compressors

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• Under these conditions the blades can fail
due to resonance.
• This occurs when the frequency of the
passage of stall cell through a blade
coincides with its natural frequency.
• Both the efficiency and delivery pressure
drop considerably on account of rotating
stall.

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Fig.9.6 Enthalpy--entropy diagram of
an axial compressor
Fig.9.3 Velocity triangles for a Fig.9.3 Velocity triangles for a
compressor stage compressor stage

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2
1
and
2
1
2
2 2 02
2
1 1 01
c p p
c p p
+ ·
+ ·

At rotor inlet c
1
is less and w
1
is large

At rotor exit c
2
is large and w
2
is small

At stator (diffuser) exit c
3
will be close to c
1


Therefore

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