The breakdown of tip leakage vortices at operating points close to the stability limit of transonic compressor rotors has been detected. The aerodynamic phenomenon is considered to have a major impact on stall inception. Computations have been carried out and a detailed visualization of the phenomenon is given. In addition the connection of vortex breakdown to rotating instabilities and stall is discussed. Furthermore the tip flow field of the axial rotor is compared to the results for a centrifugal and a mixed flow compressor operating at similar tip speeds.

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