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A course on Centrifugal Pumps

A course on Centrifugal Pumps A turbo machine where mechanical energy is converted into pressure energy in a liquid by means of a rotating impeller is called Centrifugal Pump. When the rotating impeller transfers energy to the liquid, centripetal force is imparted to the liquid. This creates a centrifugal force as a reaction force in the liquid. Due to this phenomenon, these devices are called Centrifugal Pumps. Centrifugal Pump can be understood as a reversed inward radial flow reaction turbine. Main parts of a Centrifugal Pump: A Centrifugal Pump has the following main parts as shown in the figure 19.1below:

1. 2. 3. 4.

Impeller Casing Suction pipe [with foot valve & strainer] Delivery pipe

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A course on Centrifugal Pumps

Impeller: is the rotating part of a Centrifugal Pump. It is mounted in a shaft that is in turn connected to an electrical motor. It imparts rotary motion to the liquid. Therefore it imparts kinetic energy to the liquid. The impeller has an opening at its center called Eye of the impeller through which liquid enters from the suction pipe. Liquid enters radially through the eye of the impeller and passes over the vanes that are attached to the impeller. Vanes are backward curved and liquid moves over the convex portion of the vane. In a similar turbine, the water would have passed over the concave portion of the vane1. Casing2: is an air-tight passage surrounding the impeller. Its shape is called Volute. This shape helps in converting the high kinetic energy of the liquid to pressure energy. When the liquid leaves the outlet of the impeller, the liquid has very high kinetic energy because the impeller would have imparted rotary motion to the liquid. This liquid with high kinetic energy enters the volute-shaped casing. In this casing, the high kinetic energy liquid is forced to pass through a progressively reducing cross-sectional area. This reduces the kinetic energy but increases the pressure energy in the liquid. Thus, the liquid leaves the outlet of the casing with high pressure energy. Suction pipe: must have a foot-valve in a Centrifugal Pump arrangement. Foot-valve is a non-return valve which will allow liquid to only enter the suction pipe and will retain the liquid inside the suction pipe. This is necessary because Centrifugal Pump has to be primed for working. Without a foot-valve, the Centrifugal Pump cannot be primed. The suction pipe must also necessarily have a strainer. This prevents any solid particle from entering the impeller. Solids entering into the impeller could lead to clogging of the small spaces between vanes and between impeller and casing. Clogging reduces the efficiency of the pump. Delivery pipe: will have a non-return delivery valve in long pipes. This prevents back-flow when the pump stops after working for a considerable time. Back-flow from long delivery-pipes may damage the electrical motor. Working: The Centrifugal Pump is primed. The entire volute casing and suction pipe is filled with liquid. The impeller is completely submerged in the liquid inside the volute casing. The foot-valve prevents the liquid from getting drained back into the sump. Then the motor is turned on. The shaft rotates and makes the impeller to rotate. The liquid which is in contact with the vanes gets thrown out of the impeller with high kinetic energy. This liquid gets collected by the volute casing and is forced along its volute path. The volute path drastically reduces the kinetic energy which gets converted into pressure energy. Thus the liquid develops a high head and gets discharged from the volute casing outlet into the delivery pipe. Since the liquid gets thrown out of the impeller into the volute casing, the lower pressure in the eye of the impeller sucks more liquid into the impeller and continuous discharge is obtained. Priming of Centrifugal Pump: is defined as the operation in which the suction pipe and the volute casing are completely filled with the liquid to be pumped. This filling is done from an external source. Liquid is poured into a funnel provided for this purpose. When the liquid is poured, an air-vent is opened so that all the air trapped inside the system is replaced by liquid. When the liquid starts coming out of the air-vent, the priming is complete. It is important that all the air from the entire suction pipe and volute casing is removed and replaced fully by the liquid. The reasons why priming is needed are:
1 2

See end of the note for more details on impellers. This is also called as Volute Chamber or Volute Casing.
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A course on Centrifugal Pumps

1. The head generated in a Centrifugal Pump is given by the equation:

Since this equation is independent of the density of the liquid, this equation tells us that if the Centrifugal Pump runs in air, then the head generated will be in meters of air, and if it is used to pump water, then the head generated according to this fundamental Centrifugal Pump equation will be in meters of water. If the impeller is filled with air, then the head generated in terms of equivalent meter of water will be very low. This is because the density of air is much lower than water or any other liquid. As a result, if the impeller is filled with air, it wont be able to generated sufficient head to lift water or any other liquid. Hence priming is essential in Centrifugal Pump. 2. If air bubbles get blocked anywhere in the system, the pressure generated by the impeller-casing system will get dissipated on the air bubbles and discharge will stop. Therefore it is essential to ensure that priming is done and then the Centrifugal Pump is started. 3. Dry running of Centrifugal Pump may lead to burn out of electrical motor. Methods of Priming: 1. Small pumps: As explained in the section above. 2. Medium size pumps: Smaller pumps are used to prime the medium sized pumps by using a float switch. 3. Large pumps: are primed by evacuating the casing and the suction pipe by a vacuum pump or an ejector. The liquid is thus drawn up the suction pipe from the sump and the pump is filled with liquid. 4. Self-priming Pump: Some Centrifugal Pumps come with a special arrangement containing a supply of liquid that is supplied in the suction pipe. This enables automatic priming. Such Centrifugal Pumps are called Self-priming Pumps. Naturally, these have to be small in size and output. Work done by impeller on liquid: For all practical purposes, a Centrifugal Pump can be considered as a mirror-image of a radial-inward flow turbine. Consider the figure 19.5:

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A course on Centrifugal Pumps

We make the following assumptions: 1. Liquid enters the eye of the impeller radially. 2. 3. 4. 5. There is no shock at the entry. There is no energy loss in the impeller due to friction and eddy currents. There is uniform velocity distribution in the narrow passage between two adjacent vanes. For the purpose of easy mathematical calculations, we start by considering that the impeller has only one vane. The result that we obtain is then generalized for impeller with many vanes.

Let all notations be same as that for a radial-inward flow turbine. From turbine calculations we know that Work done per second per unit weight of water striking the vane is [

Since a Centrifugal Pump can be considered as a mirror-image of a turbine, Work done per second per unit weight of water striking the vane is [ Since the entry of water is radial, we have .

this for any liquid, then:

] meters of water. This is for unit weight of water. If we wish to generalize



], where

is the width of the impeller at the outlet side.

Work done/second is also called Power at the impeller or Power imparted by impeller to liquid. Heads in Centrifugal Pump: The various heads in a Centrifugal Pumps are depicted in figure 19.29 below:

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A course on Centrifugal Pumps

1. Suction head (hs): is the vertical height through which the Centrifugal Pump has to lift the liquid. It is measured from the center line of the Centrifugal Pump to the foot-valve. Note: This head is called Suction Lift in case of a submersible pump. 2. Delivery head (hd): is the vertical height through which the pump has to discharge the liquid. It is measured from the center line of the Centrifugal Pump to the vertical tip of the delivery pipe. 3. Static head ( ): is the sum of the suction head & delivery head for a Centrifugal Pump.

4. Manometric head ( ): is the effective head against which the Centrifugal Pump has to work. It can be defined in three different ways, as follows: a. = Head imparted by impeller to liquid loss of head inside the pump. if loss is zero. b. = Total head at outlet of pump total head at inlet of the pump. { Where: } { }


= suction head + delivery head + friction-head in suction pipe + friction-head in delivery pipe + velocity-head of liquid in delivery pipe.

5. Net Positive Suction head (NPSH): is the total suction head. It is the head required to make the liquid flow from the foot-valve, through the suction pipe up to the impeller. NPSH is an important value because all the minimum suction conditions of a Centrifugal Pump are generally expressed in terms of NPSH. NPSH is the minimum head required to avoid cavitation in Centrifugal Pump. NPSH depends on the vane outlet angle, speed of impeller and discharge of the pump. All Centrifugal Pump manufacturers specify the required NPSH (NPSHR) for the given pump. Refer to figure 19.29 above. The available NPSH (NPSHA) is calculated by the equation:

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A course on Centrifugal Pumps


} )

NPSHA = {Ha Hs Hv}

where Ha = Absolute pressure head ( Hs = Total Suction head {

Hv = Vapor pressure head for liquid ( = Efficiencies of Centrifugal Pump: Since a Centrifugal Pump has many losses, we can consider various kinds of efficiencies for a Centrifugal Pump. The losses can be mechanical losses, leakage losses and hydraulic losses. Corresponding to each of these losses, we can calculate an efficiency number for the pump. 1. Mechanical efficiency ( ): is the ratio of power at the impeller to the power at the shaft.

. 2. Volumetric efficiency ( : is the ratio of discharge per second from the pump to the total quantity of liquid passing per second through the impeller. Where q = loss of liquid/second. 3. Manometric efficiency ( . 4. Overall efficiency (no): is the ratio of the power output of pump to the power input into the pump. . [This equation is used for calculating the Shaft power3.] An alternate expression for no is: . Minimum speed for starting a Centrifugal Pump: The Centrifugal Pump will discharge liquid only if the pressure increase is equal to or greater that the manometric head. Hence, there is a minimum speed of the Centrifugal Pump above which discharge occurs, and below which there will be no discharge. This minimum speed is given by: Nmin =
[ ]

): is the manometric head to head imparted by the impeller.

Shaft Power: is the power that the electric motor gives to the pump.
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A course on Centrifugal Pumps

Specific speed of Centrifugal Pump: is defined as the speed of a geometrically similar pump which would deliver one cubic meter of liquid per second against a head of one meter. It is given by: Ns =

Maximum suction head possible: [ ]

is limited to 7.8 meters of water. If the suction head is more than this, then rapid vaporization may occur, which will lead to cavitation. Cavitation4: When the pressure of a liquid becomes equal to or falls down below its vapor pressure5, the liquid undergoes a phase change into its vapor state. Thus, even though the liquid may be at standard temperature, the liquid would be effectively boiling. Bubbles are formed as a result. These bubbles travel further downstream and burst in a region of higher pressure. This entire phenomenon is called Cavitation. Thus cavitation involves formation of vapor bubbles and the bursting of those bubbles. In a Centrifugal Pump, cavitation is a dangerous situation and it has to be avoided. On the one hand, separation occurs and discharge stops. On the other hand, damage occurs on the surface of vanes and casing, which reduces efficiency and may eventually lead to mechanical failure. Effects of cavitation on Centrifugal Pump: 1. Due to sudden collapse of vapor bubbles, considerable noise and vibrations are produced. 2. Vapor bubbles hit the metallic surface of vanes and casing and collapse there. This bursting creates a localized hammer-effect. Although the force released in this bursting is relatively small, at the molecular level, these are enough to chip off a micro part of the metallic surface. The metallic surfaces are thus damaged and cavities are formed on the surface. This phenomenon is called Pitting. Pitting has to be avoided. 3. Sudden drop in head, efficiency and power transferred to liquid. 4. The efficiency of a Centrifugal Pump decreases considerably. This occurs because pitting makes the surface of the vanes very rough. Hence the flow velocity imparted by vanes to liquid reduces. So, liquid leaves the impeller with less kinetic energy than the maximum possible by the pump. Precaution against cavitation in Centrifugal Pump: 1. Foot-valve design to be done in such a way that suction doesnt get restricted. 2. Pressure of the liquid should not be allowed to fall below its vapor pressure in any part of the pump. (For water this means the absolute pressure should not be below 2.5 m of water).

4 5

Please refer to A course on Reciprocating Pump for short note on this topic Vapor pressure: A liquid may change its phase under two conditions. If the temperature is raised above its boiling temperature, phase change occurs. Or, if the pressure falls below a limit that is characteristic of the liquid, even at standard temperature, phase change will occur.
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A course on Centrifugal Pumps

3. Use of special materials like aluminum-bronze & stainless steel which are corrosion resistant materials. If cast iron or cast steel is used for impeller, then they are surface-hardened. 4. If hot liquids are being pumped, temperature has to be maintained in such a way that it doesnt boil off into vapors. Impellers: 1. Types of impellers: a. Shrouded impeller: is the most common type of impeller. This is basically a cylinder where the vanes are covered on both sides. This makes it easy to manufacture. Most liquids can be pumped with this type of impeller. b. Propeller: is also called unshrouded impeller. The outer cover for the vanes is not present here. High viscosity liquids and mixture of liquids & solids such as sludge can be pumped with this type of impellers. c. Mixed flow impeller: is always associated with diffuser vanes. These are used in submersible pumps for low viscous liquids. 2. Materials for impellers: depends on the liquid being pumped. Sl No 1 2 3 4 Liquid to be pumped Water Hot water ( 150oc) Acids Milk/edible oils Material of impeller Cast Iron Cast Steel Stainless Steel or Cast Steel with corrosion-resistant coating Stainless Steel

3. Vane design: The of a Centrifugal Pump is closely related to the vane outlet angle . As o o varies from 90 to 20 , varies from 50% to 75%. However, cannot be reduced further o lower than 20 for practical reasons, as the vanes will become extremely thin and weak. Similarly, the depends on the number of vanes on the impeller. It has been found empirically that if the number of vanes is equal to or greater than 24, then Eulers fundamental equation for pumps holds good. But it is not practical to have a large number of vanes since fabrication will become difficult and the impeller may get clogged. Multi-stage pumps: Centrifugal Pumps can be connected in series and in parallel in order to achieve better results. If the pumps are connected in series, we can get very high heads. Hence multi-stage Centrifugal Pumps in series are also called Booster Pumps. If the pumps are connected in parallel, we can get very high discharge. Pumps in series: For obtaining a high head for a small discharge, a number of impellers are mounted in series on the same shaft as shown in figure 19.12 below. Discharge from the first impeller enters the eye of the second impeller. The liquid entering the second impeller already a certain pressure-head imparted to it by the first impeller.
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A course on Centrifugal Pumps

The second impeller further increases the head and discharges the liquid at a much higher pressure. If the number of impellers is increased, the pressure can be increased further. If n number of identical impellers is used and if each impeller imparts a head of at each stage, then the total head from the multi-stage pump will be . However, total discharge will not be greater than the output of the first impeller. Pumps in parallel:

When a large quantity of liquid has to be pumped against a small head, two or more pumps are arranged as shown in figure 19.13 below. Each of these pumps works separately but delivers its discharge to a common delivery pipe. The head imparted to the liquid will be common. But the discharge gets added up. If this parallel arrangement has n number of pumps and if each of them delivers a discharge Q, then the total discharge will be nQ.

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A course on Centrifugal Pumps

Comparison of Centrifugal Pumps with Recip Pumps: Sl No 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Parameter Cost Installation & Maintenance Discharge capacity Size for same power & capacity Performance characteristics Type of liquids handled Operating speeds Type of coupling of drive shaft Torque on motor Output from pump Centrifugal Pump Cheap Easy & cheap High Small Superior All kinds Very high Direct Uniform Uniform Recip Pump Costly Difficult & Costly Low Large Inferior Only low viscosity Very low Flexible only Sinusoidal Intermittent

Pump Characteristics Charts6: contain various curves that help in predicting the performance of a Centrifugal Pump under different flow rates, heads and speed. There are many types of pump characteristics charts out of which we shall study three main types. These charts have great practical application when we have to select a suitable Centrifugal Pump based on the head and discharge required. Types of Pump Characteristics Charts: 1. Main characteristics Chart: contains variation of manometric head ( discharge ( ) against speed as shown in the figure 19.14: ), power ( &

This chart will have three curves. Discharge curve is a straight line. Manometric head curve is a parabolic curve. Power curve is a cubic curve. In these charts: For plotting against , is kept constant. [ ] For plotting against , is kept constant. [ ] For plotting against speed, & are kept constant. [ ]

Care must be taken not to be confused between these charts and Turbine Characteristics Charts. The charts appear similar, but have a vital difference. Turbine charts are generally plotted for unit speed and unit discharge.
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A course on Centrifugal Pumps

Use: These charts are used for comparing various Centrifugal Pumps under different parameters. 2. Operating characteristics Chart: contains variation of manometric head ( ), power ( & efficiency ( ) against discharge ( ), keeping speed as constant, as shown in the figure 19.15

The main features of this chart are: a. Input curve will start on y-axis, above origin. This is because even when , power is required for overcoming mechanical losses. b. Output curve will start from origin since . c. curve will have maximum value when . d. curve will also start at the origin since output power is zero when . However, this curve will rise up to a certain value of and then it will drop. This is because of cavitation. Use: These charts are used for obtaining the design head & discharge for maximum efficiency. 3. Constant Efficiency Charts: makes use of two charts simultaneously as shown in figure 19.16:

The against drawn on the

chart is used along with against chart. A constant efficiency line is curves. The points of intersection at various speeds are projected onto

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A course on Centrifugal Pumps

the curves for corresponding speeds. The resulting curves are called Iso-efficiency7 curves. Some Centrifugal Pump manufacturers provide a combined chart which already has these constant efficiency or iso-efficiency curves for easy selection. Use: These charts help us determine the range of speeds for a given head and discharge in which the Centrifugal Pump will have maximum efficiency. Steps in Pump Selection: 1. Discharge (Q), Head (Hm) and Speed (N) are the main criteria that are determined from in-situ requirements. 2. Corresponding to these values, Specific Speed of the pump is calculated. From this we get the specific NPSHR. From these two parameters, we can determine the specific pump model and size. 3. From this value, along with the other three parameters, the Performance Characteristics Charts are referred to and optimum working ranges for Q, Hm, N & P are determined. 4. Based on the type of liquid being pumped, the type and material of impeller is determined. 5. Based on the values obtained from steps 2 and 3 above, we can determine the size range and dimension range of impeller and vane. In fact, for a given set of Specific Speed & Specific NPSHR, we can get a number of different impeller diameters. The choice of geometry & type of impeller depends on the operating conditions, properties of the liquid and chemical composition of the liquid. 6. Select an impeller that is one size smaller than the maximum size for the given pump casing, so that it can be replaced with a larger one without replacing the casing. 7. Law of affinity in Centrifugal Pumps: When we change the speed or impeller diameter in a pump, then, from the MC Chart, we know that: a. Discharge or Capacity varies directly as the change in speed or diameter. b. Head varies as the square of the change in speed or diameter. c. Power varies as the cube of the change in speed or diameter. Any choice of the impeller diameter has to consider this Law of Affinity while selecting the pump. ***************

Iso-Efficiency Curves are also called Muschel Curves.

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