Corner separation is one type of the three-dimensional (3D) separated flows which is commonly observed at the junction of the blade suction surface and endwall of an axial compressor. The commonly used Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) turbulence models, namely Spalart-Allmaras (SA) and Menter’s Shear Stress Transport (SST) models, have been found to overpredict the size of corner separation. The physical reason is partly attributed to the underestimation of turbulence mixing between the mainstream flow and the endwall boundary-layer flow. This makes the endwall boundary layer unable to withstand the bulk adverse pressure gradients, and in turn leads to its premature separation from the endwall surface during its migration towards the endwall/blade suction surface corner.
The endwall flow characteristics within the compressor stator cascade are then studied to facilitate understanding the physical mechanisms that drive the formation of 3D flow structures, and the physical reasons that lead to RANS modelling uncertainties. It is found that the insufficient near-wall boundary layer mixing is partly due to the failure of both SA and SST models to reasonably model the non-equilibrium turbulence behaviors inside the endwall boundary layer, which is caused by the boundary layer skewness.
Based on the understanding of the skew-induced turbulence characteristics and its effect on mixing, a detailed effort is presented towards the physical-based modelling of the skew-induced non-equilibrium wall-bounded turbulence. The source terms in the SA and SST models that control mixing are identified and modified, in order to enhance mixing and strengthen the endwall boundary layer. The improved turbulence models are then validated against the compressor corner separation flows under various operating conditions to prove that the location and extent of the corner separation are more realistically predicted.