Experimental investigations on a single stage centrifugal compressor showed that measured blade vibration amplitudes vary considerably along a constant speed line from choke to surge. The unsteady flow has been analysed to obtain detailed insight into the excitation mechanism. Therefore, a turbocharger compressor stage impeller has been modeled and simulated by means of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). Two operating points at off-design conditions were analysed. One was close to choke and the second one close to the surge line. Transient CFD was employed, since only then a meaningful prediction of the blade excitation, caused by the unsteady flow situation, can be expected. Actually, it was observed that close to surge a steady state solution could not be obtained; only transient CFD could deliver a converged solution. The CFD results show the effect of the interaction between the inducer casing bleed system and the main flow. Additionally, the effect of the non-axisymmetric components, such as the suction elbow and the discharge volute, was analysed. The volute geometry itself had not been modeled. It turned out to be sufficient to impose a circumferentially asymmetric pressure distribution at the exit of the vaned diffuser to simulate the volute. Volute and suction elbow impose a circumferentially asymmetric flow field, which induces blade excitation. To understand the excitation mechanism, which causes the measured vibration behavior of the impeller, the time dependent pressure distribution on the impeller blades was transformed into the frequency domain by Fourier decomposition. The complex modal pressure data were imposed on the structure that was modeled by Finite Element Methods (FEM). Following state-of-the-art calculations to analyze the free vibration behavior of the impeller, forced response calculations were carried out. Comparisons with the experimental results demonstrate that this employed methodology is capable of predicting the impeller’s vibration behavior under real engine conditions. Integrating the procedure into the design of centrifugal compressors will enhance the quality of the design process.

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