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Centrifugal pumps can be classified based on the manner in which fluid flows through the pump. The manner in which fluid flows through the pump is determined by the design of the pump casing and the impeller. The three types of flow through a centrifugal pump are radial flow, axial flow, and mixed flow.
Radial Flow Pumps In a radial flow pump, the liquid enters at the center of the impeller and is directed out along the impeller blades in a direction at right angles to the pump shaft
Axial Flow Pumps In an axial flow pump, the impeller pushes the liquid in a direction parallel to the pump shaft.
Axial flow pumps are sometimes called propeller pumps because they operate essentially the same as the propeller of a boat.
Mixed Flow Pumps Mixed flow pumps borrow characteristics from both radial flow and axial flow pumps. As liquid flows through the impeller of a mixed flow pump, the impeller blades push the liquid out away from the pump shaft and to the pump suction at an angle greater than 90o
Multi-Stage Centrifugal Pumps A centrifugal pump with a single impeller that can develop a differential pressure of
more than 150 psid between the suction and the discharge is difficult and costly to design and construct. A more economical approach to developing high pressures with a single centrifugal pump is to include multiple impellers on a common shaft within the same pump casing. Internal channels in the pump casing route the discharge of one impeller to the suction of another impeller. The water enters the pump from the top left and passes through each of the stage impellers in series, going from left to right. The water goes from the volute surrounding the discharge of one impeller to the suction of the next impeller. A pump stage is defined as that portion of a centrifugal pump consisting of one impeller and its associated components. Most centrifugal pumps are single-stage pumps, containing only one impeller. A pump containing seven impellers within a single casing would be referred to as a seven-stage pump or, or generally, as a multi-stage pump
Pumps Impellers can be open, semi-open, or enclosed.
The open impeller consists only of blades attached to a hub.
The semi-open impeller is constructed with a circular plate (the web) attached to one side of the blades.
The enclosed impeller has circular plates attached to both sides of the blades. Enclosed impellers are also referred to as shrouded impellers
Impellers of pumps are either Single-Suction and Double-Suction Impellers based on the number of points that the liquid can enter the impeller and also on the amount of webbing between the impeller blades. Impellers can be either single- suction or double-suction. A single-suction impeller allows liquid to enter the center of the blades from only one direction. A double-suction impeller allows liquid to enter the center of the impeller blades from both sides simultaneously
The impeller sometimes contains balancing holes that connect the space around the hub to the suction side of the impeller. The balancing holes have a total cross-sectional area that is considerably greater than the cross-sectional area of the annular space between the wearing ring and the hub. The result is suction pressure on both sides of the impeller hub, which maintains a hydraulic balance of
Some centrifugal pumps contain diffusers.A diffuser is a set of stationary vanes that surround the impeller. The purpose of the diffuser is to increase the efficiency of the centrifugal pump by allowing a more gradual expansion and less turbulent area for the liquid to reduce in velocity. The diffuser vanes are designed in a manner that the liquid exiting the impeller will encounter an ever- increasing flow area as it passes through the diffuser. This increase in flow area causes a reduction in flow velocity, converting kinetic energy into flow pressure.
Centrifugal pumps can also be constructed in a manner that results in two distinct volutes, each receiving the liquid that is discharged from a 180o region of the impeller at any given time. Pumps of this type are called double volute pumps (they may also be referred to a split volute pumps). In some applications the double volute minimizes radial forces imparted to the shaft and bearings due to imbalances in the pressure around the impeller.
earing W Rings
Centrifugal pumps contain rotating impellers within stationary pump casings. To allow the impeller to rotate freely within the pump casing, a small clearance is designed to be maintained between the impeller and the pump casing. To maximize the efficiency of a centrifugal pump, it is necessary to minimize the amount of liquid leaking through this clearance from the high pressure or discharge side of the pump back to the low pressure or suction side.Some wear or erosion will occur at the point where the impeller and the pump casing nearly come into contact. This wear is due to the erosion caused by liquid leaking through this tight clearance and other causes. As wear occurs, the clearances become larger and the rate of leakage increases. Eventually, the leakage could become unacceptably large and maintenance would be required on the pump. To minimize the cost of pump maintenance, many centrifugal pumps are designed with wearing rings.
Wearing rings are replaceable rings that are attached to the impeller and/or the pump casing to allow a small running clearance between the impeller and the pump casing without causing wear of the actual impeller or pump casing material. These wearing rings are designed to be replaced periodically during the life of a pump and prevent the more costly replacement of the impeller or the casing
The flow area at the eye of the pump impeller is usually smaller than either the flow area of the pump suction piping or the flow area through the impeller vanes. When the liquid being pumped enters the eye of a centrifugal pump, the decrease in flow area results in an increase in flow velocity accompanied by a decrease in pressure. The greater the pump flow rate, the greater the pressure drop between the pump suction and the eye of the impeller. If the pressure drop is large enough, or if the temperature is high enough, the pressure drop may be sufficient to cause the liquid to flash to vapor when the local pressure falls below the saturation pressure for the fluid being pumped. Any vapor bubbles formed by the pressure drop at the eye of the impeller are swept along the impeller vanes by the flow of the fluid. When the bubbles enter a region where local pressure is greater than saturation pressure farther out the impeller vane, the vapor bubbles abruptly collapse. This process of the formation and subsequent collapse of vapor bubbles in a pump is called cavitation. Cavitation in a centrifugal pump has a significant effect on pump performance. Cavitation degrades the performance of a pump, resulting in a fluctuating flow rate and discharge pressure. Cavitation can also be destructive to pumps internal components. When a pump cavitates, vapor bubbles form in the low pressure region directly behind the rotating impeller vanes. These vapor bubbles then move toward the oncoming impeller vane, where they collapse and cause a physical shock to the leading edge of the impeller vane. This physical shock creates small pits on the leading edge of the impeller vane. Each individual pit is microscopic in size, but the cumulative effect of millions of these pits formed over a period of hours or days can literally destroy a pump impeller. Cavitation can also cause excessive pump vibration, which could damage pump bearings, wearing rings, and seals. A small number of centrifugal pumps are designed to operate under conditions where cavitation is unavoidable. These pumps must be specially designed and maintained to withstand the small amount of cavitation that occurs during their operation. Most centrifugal pumps are not designed to withstand sustained cavitation. Noise is one of the indications that a centrifugal pump is cavitating. A cavitating pump can sound like a can of marbles being shaken. Other indications that can be observed from a remote operating station are fluctuating discharge pressure, flow rate, and pump motor current.
Net Positive Suction Head
To avoid cavitation in centrifugal pumps, the pressure of the fluid at all points within the pump must remain above saturation pressure. The quantity used to determine if the pressure of the liquid being pumped is adequate to avoid cavitation is the net positive suction head (NPSH). The net positive suction head available (NPSHA) is the difference between the pressure at the suction of the pump and the saturation pressure for the liquid being pumped.The net positive suction head required (NPSHR) is the minimum net positive suction head necessary to avoid cavitation
The condition that must exist to avoid cavitation is that the net positive suction head available must be greater than or equal to the net positive suction head required.
.A formula for NPSHA can be stated as the following equation.
NPSHA = Psuction - Psaturation
When a centrifugal pump is taking suction from a tank or other reservoir, the pressure at the suction of the pump is the sum of the absolute pressure at the surface of the liquid in the tank plus the pressure due to the elevation difference between the surface of liquid in the tank and the pump suction less the head losses due to friction in the suction line from the tank to the pump.
NPSHA = Pa + Pst - hf - Psat
Where: NPSHA = net positive suction head available Pa = absolute pressure on the surface of the liquid Pst = pressure due to elevation between liquid surface and pump suction hf = head losses in the pump suction piping Psat = saturation pressure of the liquid being pumped
If a centrifugal pump is cavitating, several changes in the system design or operation may be necessary to increase the NPSHA above the NPSHR and stop the cavitation. One method for increasing the NPSHA is to increase the pressure at the suction of the pump. For example, if a pump is taking suction from an enclosed tank, either raising the level of the liquid in the tank or increasing the pressure in the space above the liquid increases suction pressure. It is also possible to increase the NPSHA by decreasing the temperature of the liquid being pumped. Decreasing the temperature of the liquid decreases the saturation pressure, causing NPSHA to increase. Recall from the previous module on heat exchangers that large steam condensers usually subcool the condensate to less than the saturation temperature, called condensate depression, to prevent cavitation in the condensate pumps. If the head losses in the pump suction piping can be reduced, the NPSHA will be increased. Various methods for reducing head losses include increasing the pipe diameter, reducing the number of elbows, valves, and fittings in the pipe, and decreasing the length of the pipe.
It may also be possible to stop cavitation by reducing the NPSHR for the pump. The NPSHR is not a constant for a given pump under all conditions, but depends on certain factors. Typically, the NPSHR of a pump increases significantly as flow rate through the pump increases. Therefore, reducing the flow rate through a pump by throttling a discharge valve decreases NPSHR.
NPSHR is also dependent upon pump speed. The faster the impeller of a pump rotates, the greater the NPSHR. Therefore, if the speed of a variable speed centrifugal pump is reduced, the NPSHR of the pump decreases. However, since a pump's flow rate is most often dictated by the needs of the system on which it is connected, only limited adjustments can be made without starting additional parallel pumps, if available.
The net positive suction head required to prevent cavitation is determined through testing by the pump manufacturer and depends upon factors including type of impeller inlet, impeller design, pump flow rate, impeller rotational speed, and the type of liquid being pumped. The manufacturer typically supplies curves of NPSHR as a function of pump flow rate for a particular liquid (usually water) in the vendor manual for the pump.
CentrifugalPump Characteristic Curves
For a given centrifugal pump operating at a constant speed, the flow rate through the pump is Figure 11 Centrifugal Pump Characteristic Curve dependent upon the differential pressure or head developed by the pump. The lower the pump head, the higher the flow rate. A vendor manual for a specific pump usually contains a curve of pump flow rate versus pump head called a pump characteristic curve. After a pump is installed in a system, it is usually tested to ensure that the flow rate and head of the pump are within the required specifications. A typical centrifugal pump characteristic curve is shown in Figure 11. There are several terms associated with the pump characteristic curve that must be defined. Shutoff head is the maximum head that can be developed by a centrifugal pump operating at a set speed. Pump runout is the maximum flow that can be developed by a centrifugal pump without damaging the pump. Centrifugal pumps must be designed and operated to be protected from the conditions of pump runout or operating at shutoff head. Additional information may be found in the handbook on Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer, and Fluid Flow. ME-03 Rev. 0 Page 14
Centrifugal Pump Protection
A centrifugal pump is dead-headed when it is operated with no flow through it, for example, with a closed discharge valve or against a seated check valve. If the discharge valve is closed and there is no other flow path available to the pump, the impeller will churn the same volume of water as it rotates in the pump casing. This will increase the temperature of the liquid (due to friction) in the pump casing to the point that it will flash to vapor. The vapor can interrupt the cooling flow to the pump's packing and bearings, causing excessive wear and heat. If the pump is run in this condition for a significant amount of time, it will become damaged. When a centrifugal pump is installed in a system such that it may be subjected to periodic shutoff head conditions, it is necessary to provide some means of pump protection. One method for protecting the pump from running dead-headed is to provide a recirculation line from the pump discharge line upstream of the discharge valve, back to the pump's supply source. The recirculation line should be sized to allow enough flow through the pump to prevent overheating and damage to the pump. Protection may also be accomplished by use of an automatic flow control device. Centrifugal pumps must also be protected from runout. Runout can lead to cavitation and can also cause overheating of the pump's motor due to excessive currents. One method for ensuring that there is always adequate flow resistance at the pump discharge to prevent excessive flow through the pump is to place an orifice or a throttle valve immediately downstream of the pump discharge. Properly designed piping systems are very important to protect from runout.
Gas binding of a centrifugal pump is a condition where the pump casing is filled with gases or vapors to the point where the impeller is no longer able to contact enough fluid to function correctly. The impeller spins in the gas bubble, but is unable to force liquid through the pump. This can lead to cooling problems for the pump's packing and bearings. Centrifugal pumps are designed so that their pump casings are completely filled with liquid during pump operation. Most centrifugal pumps can still operate when a small amount of gas accumulates in the pump casing, but pumps in systems containing dissolved gases that are not designed to be self-venting should be periodically vented manually to ensure that gases do not build up in the pump casing.
Priming Centrifugal Pumps
Most centrifugal pumps are not self-priming. In other words, the pump casing must be filled with liquid before the pump is started, or the pump will not be able to function. If the pump casing becomes filled with vapors or gases, the pump impeller becomes gas-bound and incapable of pumping. To ensure that a centrifugal pump remains primed and does not become gas-bound, most centrifugal pumps are located below the level of the source from which the pump is to take its suction. The same effect can be gained by supplying liquid to the pump suction under pressure supplied by another pump placed in the suction line Summary
There are three indications that a centrifugal pump is cavitating. Noise Fluctuating discharge pressure and flow Fluctuating pump motor current Steps that can be taken to stop pump cavitation include: Increase the pressure at the suction of the pump. Reduce the temperature of the liquid being pumped. Reduce head losses in the pump suction piping. Reduce the flow rate through the pump. Reduce the speed of the pump impeller. Three effects of pump cavitation are: Degraded pump performance Excessive pump vibration Damage to pump impeller, bearings, wearing rings, and seals To avoid pump cavitation, the net positive suction head available must be greater than the net positive suction head required. Net positive suction head available is the difference between the pump suction pressure and the saturation pressure for the liquid being pumped. Cavitation is the process of the formation and subsequent collapse of vapor bubbles in a pump. Gas binding of a centrifugal pump is a condition where the pump casing is filled with gases or vapors to the point where the impeller is no longer able to contact enough fluid to function correctly. Shutoff head is the maximum head that can be developed by a centrifugal pump operating at a set speed.