Rotor performance of an axial flow compressor at free and highly loaded windmilling conditions

Wenbo Zhang, Nobumichi Fujisawa, Yutaka Ohta, Takashi Goto, Dai Kato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The work characteristics and loss-generation mechanism of a single-stage axial flow compressor in windmilling operation were investigated via experiments and computational fluid dynamics analyses. The windmilling state occurs when air flowing through an unlit engine drives the compressor rotor blades, similar to a turbine. This phenomenon applies mostly to aircraft engines, where it is caused by ram pressure. When the inlet flow coefficient is gradually increased in the design, the rotor blades gradually enters the windmilling operation from the tip toward the hub. This research has focused on two windmilling operations: free windmilling (FW) and highly loaded (HL) windmilling. In the case of FW, the net work performed by the rotor blades to the fluid is canceled out (zero), and the rotor is in an idle state. In the HL windmilling condition, the work performed to the rotor blades by the fluid increases, the compressor acts as a turbine, and power is generated. According to the detailed numerical results, the total-pressure loss under the free and HL windmilling conditions was mainly caused by three flow structures: (1) tip leakage flow from the suction surface (SS) to the pressure surface (PS) near the leading edge and that from the PS to the SS near the trailing edge; (2) the interaction of leading-edge separation vortices due to the highly negative incidence and the rotor leading-edge vortex; and (3) the boundary- layer separation near the hub wall. Surface-pressure measurement on a rotating rotor blade revealed that the distribution of the rotor operating mode existed not only in the spanwise direction but also in the chordwise direction under the windmilling operations. The turbine mode region was observed near the leading edge, while the compressor mode region was observed near the trailing edge, even in the HL windmilling condition. Therefore, the driving force of the windmilling was dominated not by the area of the turbine mode on the rotor surface but by the strength of the operating mode, i.e., the static-pressure difference between the SS and PS on the rotor. Finally, the unsteady flow field within blade-to-blades passages was investigated via an unsteady detached eddy simulation, and the differences in the loss-generation mechanism between the FW and HL windmilling conditions were examined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Gas Turbine, Propulsion and Power Systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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