One of the critical problems in centrifugal compressor design is the diffuser-impeller interaction. Up to now, theoretical models, which describe one of the salient features of this problem, the impeller discharge mixing process, appear to be proved experimentally only at low tip speeds. In the present study investigations on this subject were accomplished in the vaneless diffuser of a low-pressure ratio centrifugal compressor, running at tip speeds of 300 m/s. Detailed, instantaneous measurements in the impeller discharge mixing zone were performed by high-frequency measuring systems. Relative velocity distributions at the exit of impeller blade channels show pronounced jet/wake-patterns. The radial extension of flow distortions in the vaneless diffuser entry region, caused by rotating wakes, reached up to higher radius ratios than predicted by theoretical models.

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