The self-induced unsteadiness of tip leakage vortex (TLV), which appears in a compressor rotor working in a range of operating points on its characteristics, from wide-open throttle all the way to the stall limit, is investigated experimentally. The research aims are twofold, to clarify the three modes in TLV development process through experimental evidences and to explore the effect of this in-blade TLV unsteadiness on stall inception. In the first half of the paper, in order to detect the unsteadiness and ensure its existence in the experimental environment (not just in computational results), phase-locked Mean and Root-Mean-Square (RMS) contours are used to track the time-averaged trajectories of the TLV, while a power spectral density (PSD) analysis provides a means to identify the magnitude and the frequency of the oscillation. With all of the above, the three modes of the TLV development, which are steady, in-blade unsteady and cross-blade unsteady TLV, can be clearly demonstrated. In the second half of this paper, various tip jet injections are applied to test the effects of the unsteady TLV on stall inception. It is found that a spike stall precursor is originated from circumferential locations where the strongest unsteady TLV are. At those locations, tip jet injections that are designated to directly alter the characteristics of TLV improve the stall margin effectively. Further, the injections are arranged over the rotor tip in difference axial locations and switched on at different points of compressor characteristic, demonstrating that if the injection misses the tip vortices or interferes with TLV too late, little or even no improvement in stall margin can be gained. These results show that the unsteady TLV are closely related to spike stall inception in this single rotor, which implies that the initiation of compressor stall could be manipulated by properly altering the characteristics of TLV unsteadiness.

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