The performance of a centrifugal compressor can be seriously affected by inlet flow distortions due to the unsatisfactory nature of the inlet configuration and the resulting inlet flow structure.

In the previous work, experimental tests were carried out for the comparison of a centrifugal compressor stage performance with two different inlet configurations: one of which was a straight pipe with constant cross-sectional area as an ideal model and the other is a 90-degree curved pipe with nozzle shape as an actual model. The comparative test results indicated significant compressor stage performance difference between the two different inlet configurations.

In addition, the numerical simulation part of the previous work clearly showed that the inlet flow distortion is caused by the pressure driven secondary flow developed in the curved section in the case of the bend inlet, resulting in locally concentrated incidence at the impeller inlet and thus the compressor stage performance degradation. An improved inlet model with the design method has been proposed based on the comparisons of the designated flow properties.

In the present work, further numerical simulations on the compressor stage including the impeller and the diffuser with three different inlets are carried out to investigate the performance behavior of the compressor exposed to different inlet configurations. The three different inlet systems include the original bend inlet as well as the proposed inlet model based on the developed design method.

Since the flow from the bend inlet is not axisymmetric due to the circumferential and radial distortion on the cross-section, the impeller and the diffuser are modeled with fully 360-degree passages, which accommodates the inlet flow distortion and the impeller-diffuser interaction influence on the entire flow passage of the compressor. The stage performance with the different inlet systems are evaluated and compared with the previous experimental result. The diffuser performance and the flow properties in the vaneless region are compared among those inlet models. The proposed inlet system indicated the benefit of performance improvement over the original inlet system.

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