Particle image velocimetry in a centrifugal pump: Details of the fluid flow at different operation conditions

by Rodolfo M. Perissinotto, Rafael F.L. Cerqueira, William D.P. Fonseca, William Monte Verde, Jorge L. Biazussi, Antonio Carlos Bannwart, Erick M. Franklin, Marcelo S. Castro, published at Flow Measurement and Instrumentation, March 2023.

Abstract

Centrifugal pumps are present in the daily life of human beings. They are essential to several industrial processes that transport single- and multi-phase flows with the presence of water, gases, and emulsions, for example. When pumping low-viscous liquids, the flow behavior in impellers and diffusers may affect the centrifugal pump performance. For these flows, complex structures promote instabilities and inefficiencies that may represent a waste of energetic and financial resources. In this context, this paper aims at characterizing single-phase water flows in one complete stage of a centrifugal pump to improve our understanding of the relationship between flow behavior and pump performance. For that, a transparent pump prototype was designed, manufactured and installed in a test facility, and experiments using particle image velocimetry (PIV) were conducted at different conditions. The acquired images were then processed to obtain instantaneous flow fields, from which the flow characteristics were determined. Our results indicate that the flow morphology depends on the rotational speed of the impeller and water flow rate: (i) the flow is uniform when the pump works at the best efficiency point (BEP), with streamlines aligned with the blades, and low vorticity and turbulence in the impeller; (ii) the velocity field becomes complex as the pump begins to operate at off-design conditions, away from BEP. In this case, velocity fluctuations and energy losses due to turbulence increase to higher numbers. Those results bring new insights into the problem, helping validate numerical simulations, propose mathematical models, and improve the design of new impellers.

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