According to the theory presented by the authors, the tip clearance loss of an unshrouded centrifugal impeller mainly consists of two kinds of loss; one is the drag due to the leakage flow through the blade tip clearance and the other is the pressure loss to support the fluid in the thin annular clearance space between the shroud and the blade tip against the pressure gradient in the meridional plane without blades. The former is proportional to the leakage flow or the contraction coefficient of leakage flow. The authors have conducted performance tests using an impeller with sixteen backward-leaning blades in three configurations of the blade tip: round edge, sharp square edge and edge with an end-plate. The experimental tip clearance effects can be predicted by the theory assuming reasonable contraction coefficients. They are 0.91, 0.73 and 0.53 for the respective tip configurations. The impeller efficiency is improved by about 1.5 point by reducing the contraction coefficient from 0.91 to 0.53 providing that the tip clearance ratio at the exit of impeller is 0.1. More improvement is expected for an impeller with highly loaded blades where the leakage loss shares the major part of the tip clearance loss.

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