Numerical Investigation into the Effects of Tip Clearance on the Performance of a Counter-Rotating Axial Flow Compressor


1 School of Power and Energy, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an, Shaanxi, 710072, P. R. China

2 School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, BT9 5AH, UK


The impact of varying the tip clearance of each rotor on the performance of a counter-rotating axial compressor has been investigated based on numerical simulations. The main purpose was to investigate the sensitivity to the tip clearance of each of the two individual rotors and the corresponding aerodynamic mechanisms associated with the performance variation in this compressor. The results indicated that both the total pressure ratio and the efficiency decreased as the tip clearance was increased, and the sensitivity curve for peak efficiency for both rotors was found to be an approximately linear negative relationship with increasing tip clearance. The variations of peak efficiency and stability margin of Rotor 2 were more sensitive to changing tip clearance than Rotor 1. An optimum combination of tip gaps existed for this compressor, i.e. 0.5τ for Rotor 1 and 0.25τ for Rotor 2 (where τ represents the nominal tip clearance value). At this optimum configuration, the peak efficiency and stability margin were improved by 0.63% and 29.4%, respectively. The location of the onset of the tip leakage vortex was found to be shifted downstream when the tip clearance increased. The nature of the tip leakage flow for each rotor was found to be influenced by the variation of tip clearance in the other rotor. Rotor 2 showed a more significant impact on Rotor 1. Additionally, varying the combination of tip clearances changed which of the two rotors was the first to stall.