Part load operation of pumps generates flow and machine instabilities, which are not desirable and should be avoided as they result in premature wear and mechanical problems. Two-phase flow introduces additional challenges, both at the design and operational stages, due to the different phase behavior and mutual interaction. The phenomena involved present an intermittent character and are strongly dependent on the specific geometry and operating conditions. Despite the recent promising development of numerical simulations capabilities, an accurate characterization of the flow mechanisms still relies on real tests, which are needed to validate the numerical models too. An advanced laboratory test facility built at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology provides the required optical access to the pump channels, and high-speed recordings, along with local measurements of the pressure pulsations, allow to describe the flow structures in terms of location, length and time scales, and relate them to overall machine measurements, such as flow, pressure and torque. This provides a wide collection of test data of great value for a further understanding of the surging phenomenon, the development of a surging onset prediction model and a control strategy.

Tests are performed covering the whole range of flow rates; a characteristic surging condition is identified and described in the article.

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