Flow Physics Leading to System Instability in a Centrifugal Pump

[+] Author and Article Information
A. M. Wo

Institute of Applied Mechanics, National Taiwan University, Taipei 106, Taiwan

J. P. Bons

Captain, USAF, Wright Laboratory, Wright Patterson AFB, OH 45433

J. Turbomach 116(4), 612-620 (Oct 01, 1994) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2929451 History: Received March 10, 1993; Online June 09, 2008


The off-design performance in a centrifugal pump is investigated experimentally. The objective is to identify flow features that lead to the onset of surge as the fundamental pumping system instability. Results show that there are primarily two reasons for the onset of surge as the flow is reduced in the pump studied: (a) adverse flow in the tongue region, and (b) destabilizing effect of the pipe diffuser. The former is due to premature diffusion of the flow entering the tongue region, which is manifested by increased flow recirculation through the tongue/impeller gap and flow separation on the volute outer side-wall opposite the tongue. These effects in the tongue region flow coupled with the destabilizing behavior of the pipe diffuser lead to the eventual unstable pump operation.

Copyright © 1994 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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