Choked Surge in a Cavitating Turbopump Inducer
During an experimental investigation on a 3-bladed and a 4-bladed axial inducer, a severe surge instability was observed in a range of cavitation number where the blade passage is choked and the inducer head is decreased from noncavitating value. The surge was stronger for the 4-bladed inducer as compared with a 3-bladed inducer with the same inlet and outlet blade angles. For the 4-bladed inducer, the head decreases suddenly as the cavitation number is decreased. The surge was observed after the sudden drop of head. This head drop was found to be associated with a rapid extension of tip cavity into the blade passage. The cause of surge is attributed to the decrease of the negative slope of the head-flow rate performance curve due to choke. Assuming that the difference between the 3 and 4-bladed inducers is caused by the difference of the blockage effects of the blade, a test was carried out by thickening the blades of the 3-bladed inducer. However, opposite to the expectations, the head drop became smoother and the instability disappeared on the thickened blade inducer. Examination of the pressure distribution on both inducers could not explain the difference. It was pointed out that two-dimensional cavitating flow analyses predict smaller breakdown cavitation number at higher flow rates, if the incidence angle is smaller than half of the blade angle. This causes the positive slope of the performance curve and suggests that the choked surge as observed in the present study might occur in more general cases.
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- DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.5293/IJFMS.2008.1.1.064
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