An evaluation of existing 1-D vaneless diffuser design tools in the context of improving the off-design performance prediction of automotive turbocharger centrifugal compressors is described. A combination of extensive gas stand test data and single passage CFD simulations have been employed in order to permit evaluation of the different methods, allowing conclusions about the relative benefits and deficiencies of each of the different approaches to be determined. The vaneless diffuser itself has been isolated from the incumbent limitations in the accuracy of 1-D impeller modelling tools through development of a method to fully specify impeller exit conditions (in terms of mean quantities) using only standard test stand data with additional interstage static pressure measurements at the entrance to the diffuser. This method allowed a direct comparison between the test data and 1-D methods through sharing common inputs, thus achieving the aim of diffuser isolation.
Crucial to the accuracy of determining the performance of each of the vaneless diffuser configurations was the ability to quantify the presence and extent of the spanwise aerodynamic blockage present at the diffuser inlet section. A method to evaluate this critical parameter using CFD data is described herein, along with a correlation for blockage related to a new diffuser inlet flow parameter ⚡, equal to the quotient of the local flow coefficient and impeller tip speed Mach number. The resulting correlation permitted the variation of blockage with operating condition to be captured.