319329 (2014)
319
PARTIALLYAVERAGED NAVIERSTOKES MODEL FOR PREDICTING
CAVITATING FLOW IN CENTRIFUGAL PUMP
Houlin Liu, Jian Wang*, Yong Wang, Haoqin Huang and Linglin Jiang
Research Center of Fluid Machinery Engineering and Technology, Jiangsu University,
Zhenjiang 202013, China
*EMail: kin.jian.wang@gmail.com (Corresponding Author)
ABSTRACT: Cavitation is a common phenomenon in pump industries, which leads to severe problems, like
vibration and noise. It may degrade the pump performance and even damage the solid surface. So it is significant to
give a precise prediction of the pump cavitation performance. The original k model is widely used in the past years.
However, it is reported that high viscosity of the original k model dampens cavitation instabilities and hence makes
it difficult to capture the detachment of the bubbles. Aiming at improving the predictive capability, the partially
averaged NavierStokes (PANS) is employed in this paper to predict the pump cavitation performance. Experiments
on a centrifulgal pump with twisted blades are carried out to validate the simulations. The results show that,
compared with the original k model, the PANS model with lower f
k
value gives a more accurate prediction and can
reduce the eddy viscosity in the cavity region, leading to capturing the unsteady bubble shedding phenomenon. The
experimental visualizations are performed and the evolution of the cavitation inception and development are
obtained exactly at the impeller inlet. Comparisons with the transient numerical simulations are made, which
demonstrates the PANS model can successfully capture the cavitation detachment. Finally, the blade load pressure,
the pressure distribution in impeller and the pressure fluctuations are analyzed. Good agreement is noticed between
simulations and experiment. So it can be concluded that the PANS model can effectively reduce eddy viscosity in
cavitating flow in centrifugal pumps and improve the numerical simulation prediction of pump cavitation
performance.
Keywords: partiallyaveraged NavierStokes model, centrifugal pump, cavitating flow, visualizations
1. INTRODUCTION
Cavitation is well recognized as a phenomenon
that may cause serious pump malfunctioning, due
to improper pump inlet conditions or increasing
rpm (Revolution Per Minute) (Liu et al., 2012),
such as vibration (Benaouicha and Astolfi, 2010),
noise (Cudina, 2006) and even damage the solid
surface (Bruno and Frank, 2009). For pump
industries, it is much desired to predict pump
cavitation performance accurately in a
preliminary study, and also make it clear how the
bubbles develop and collapse in a pump.
Benefited from the contributions of rapid
development of the computational fluid dynamics
(CFD) technology, researchers could obtain a
deep understanding of cavitating flow field (Bilus
and Andrej, 2009; Chang and Wang, 2012).
Therefore, it is very appropriate to use CFD
approach to analyze the pump cavitation
performance. However, the accuracy of numerical
simulations is strongly dependent on users
experience and numerical models (Morgut and
Nobile, 2011; Morgut et al., 2011).
Because cavitation is an unsteady, multiphase
flow, it makes the simulation much more difficult
to capture the transient process, like the cavitation
inception and shedding off, and the effective
liquid viscosities are important at high Reynolds
numbers, especially in pumps. To get precise
computational results, an appropriate turbulence
model is required. In the last decades,
considerable effort has been devoted to the
Reynoldsaveraged NavierStokes equations
based turbulent models. Due to their robustness
and reasonable accuracy, such as the twoequation
models. The original k model was proposed by
Harlow and Nakayama (1967) and then refined by
Launder and Spalding (1974). However, the k
model noticeably overpredicts turbulent
production and hence the effective viscosity in
stagnation flow regions. It fails to get the
unsteady properties between quasiperiodic
largerscale and turbulent chaotic smallscale
feature of the flow field (Wang et al., 2011).
Furthermore, it has come short when coping with
flows with large streamline curvatures and time
dependent characteristics, such as cavitating flows
in pumps (Bilus, et al., 2005). Raiesi et al. (2011)
evaluated some turbulence models by using direct
numerical simulations (DNS) and largeeddy
simulation (LES). It indicated that k model was
Received: 14 Jun. 2013; Revised: 15 Jan. 2014; Accepted: 24 Feb. 2014
Engineering Applications of Computational Fluid Mechanics Vol. 8, No. 2 (2014)
320
incapable of predicting correctly the
nonequilibrium separated flow and failed to
model the perturbation, which would be important
for capturing the unsteady process of cavitating
flows. Ding et al. (2011) applied the transient
approach to simulate the cavitating flow in an
axialflow pump and the k model was used to
close the equations. The cavitation inception and
development were obtained. However, the
cavitation detachment process was hardly
captured.
Attempts have been made to obtain the highest
accuracy results by employing the DNS
(Sandham et al., 2001). Unfortunately, although
DNS gives the most precise results, the
computational time is prohibitive for practical
applications. The prevailing route to simulate
time dependent flows is the LES method
(Nobuhiro et al., 2003; Kato et al., 2003; Ji et al.,
2013) proposed by Smagorinski (1963).
Typically, LES resolves all the dynamically
important scales of motion and a significant
portion of the inertial scales. However, it also
requires much greater computational effort and
longer simulation times, which is too expensive
for engineering purposes.
Recently, several approaches have been made to
blend RANS and LES models (Batten et al., 2002;
Senocak and Shyy, 2004a and 2004b). Grimaji
presented a partiallyaveraged NavierStokes
method, which is a suite of turbulence closure
models of various filter widths ranging from
RANS to DNS (Girimaji et al., 2006; Girimaji
and Suman (2011); Basara, et al., 2010). The
control filters of the PANS model are resolvedto
unresolved kinetic energy f
k
and resolvedto
unresolved dissipation f
c c
+ =
c c
(1)
The mixture density and mixture viscosity are
defined by the vapor volume fraction, expressed
as:
(1 )
m v v v
l
o o = + (3)
(1 )
m v v v
l
o o = + (4)
where p is the pressure, is mixture density, u is
the velocity, and
t
stand for the laminar
viscosity and turbulent viscosity respectively, and
v
is the volume fraction. The subscripts m,l,v
indicate the mixture, liquid and vapor,
respectively.
3.2 PANS turbulence model
The PANS turbulence model is first derived by
Girimaji et al. (2006) based on the original k
model, aiming at resolving different cases
depending on the flow geometry and physical
effects. In Girimaji et al. (2006), this model can
be changed smoothly and seamlessly from RANS
to DNS with various filter widths, which is
accomplished by correcting the model
coefficients of the original k model. The two
filter widths are resolvedtounresolved kinetic
energy f
k
and resolvedtounresolved dissipation
f
, defined as:
u
k
k
f
k
=
(5)
u
f
c
c
c
=
(6)
where k and represent the total turbulent kinetic
energy and dissipation rate respectively, and the
subscript u stands for unresolved scales. The
parameter f
k
controls the cutoff ratio between
resolved and unresolved scales. That is to say, the
smaller is the f
k
, the greater is the physical
resolution: f
k
=1 represents RANS and f
k
=0
indicates DNS. The parameter f
determines the
unresolved flow Reynolds number. In the case of
high Reynolds number flow, the f
can be set to 1.
In the opposite case, for low Reynolds number
flow, f
= f
k
. In this work, the aim is to figure out
the influence of f
k
on unsteady cavitating flows in
centrifugal pumps, so the f
is set to be 1, which
implies the unresolved dissipation scales of PANS
and RANS are identical. Then the PANS model
could be summarized as:
m
u j
u u u
u u
j j j ku
k u
k k
P
t x x x
c
o
(
 
(

( 
\ . (
c
c c c
+ = + +
c c c c
(7)
2
*
1 2
m
u j
u u u u u
u
u u u j j j
u
C P C
t x x x k k
c c
c
c
c c c c
o
(
 
(


(
\ .
c
c c c
+ = + +
c c c c
(2)
(8)
Engineering Applications of Computational Fluid Mechanics Vol. 8, No. 2 (2014)
322
where the modified coefficients are as follows:
2
k
ku k
f
f
c
o o = (9)
2
k
u
f
f
c c
c
o o = (10)
*
2 1 2 1
( )
k
f
C C C C
f
c c c c
c
= + (11)
The details of the derivation of this model, based
on the original k model, can be found in
Girimaji et al. (2006) and Girimaji and Suman
(2011). The differences are the modified
coefficients
ku
,
u
and
*
2
C
c
, while the other
coefficients are identical to those of the original k
model:
1
1.44 C
c
= ,
2
1.92 C
c
= , 1.0
k
o = and
1.3
c
o = .
3.3 Cavitation model
Over the years, the transport equation model
(TEM) derived from the homogeneous
equilibrium model (HEM) has become a very
popular approach to deal with cavitating flows
(Zwart et al., 2004; Kunz et al., 2000; Singhal et
al., 2002). Different modeling concepts
embodying different source terms m
+
and m
,
which indicate the condensation and evaporation
rates. In this work, the Zwart et al. (2004) model,
implemented into the CFX software, is employed,
which has been validated by many researchers,
for the reason that it has a precise cavitating
prediction performance and a good convergence
behavior. It can be described as:
( ) v
j
v
j
u
m m
t x
o
o
+
c
c
+ = +
c c
(12)
3 (1 ) 2
3
nuc v v v
vap
B l
r P P
F
R
m
o
+
= , if P<P
v
(13)
3 2
3
v v v
cond
B l
P P
F
R
m
o
= , if P>P
v
(14)
P
v
=P
sat
+P
turb
/2 (15)
P
turb
=0.39k (16)
where F
vap
and F
cond
are empirical calibration
coefficients of evaporation and condensation,
respectively. And r
nuc
is the nucleation site
volume fraction, R
B
stands for the bubble radius,
P
v
represents the water vaporization pressure, P
sat
is the vapor saturation pressure and P
turb
is defined
as the turbulent pressure fluctuations. In this
study, these coefficients are set as defaults, as
recommended by Zwart et al. (2004) and Bilus
and Andrej (2009): F
vap
=50, F
cond
=0.01,
r
nuc
=510
4
, R
B
=110
6
m.
Fig. 5 Pump computational grids.
Fig. 6 Yplus on blade surface along streamwise
coordinate at span=0.5.
Fig. 7 Streamwise coordinate at span=0.5.
Fig. 8 Pump cavitation performance curve.
Engineering Applications of Computational Fluid Mechanics Vol. 8, No. 2 (2014)
323
3.4 Grids and simulation method
The structured hexahedral grids are used in the
present study. The fluid domain of the pump is
shown in Fig. 5, generated by GridPro
commercial software. The grids near the blade
surface region layer are refined, which is locally
zoomed in Fig. 5. And the Y
plus
, on the blade
surface along the streamwise coordinate at
span=0.5, is plotted in Fig. 6. The streamwise
coordinate follows the blade surface and it ranges
from 0 at the leading edge to 1 at the trailing edge
of the blade. And the span represents the
dimensionless distance (between 0 and 1) from
the hub to the shroud (Fig. 7). As shown, the Y
plus
value ranges from 11 to 11.5. To get a relatively
stable inlet and outlet flow, two prolongations,
four times of the pipe diameter, are assembled on
the impeller and volute. A grid independence test
is conducted based on the pump head H under
noncavitation condition. It is found that when the
cell number is over five millions, the discrepancy
of the pump head is within 3%. Ultimately,
considering the simulation time and accuracy, the
total cell number of all the parts is 6.510
6
.
A multiple reference frame (MRF) approach is
adopted, where the impeller is put into a rotating
reference frame and the other domains use the
translating reference frame. The boundary
conditions of pressure, P
inlet
=1atm, and the mass
flow rate, Q=32.8 m
3
/h, are imposed at the inlet
and outlet, respectively. No slip boundary
condition is imposed on the solid surface of the
pump. The simulation is first conducted under
noncavitation situation to obtain the pump
performance and steady result, which will be used
as an initial flow filed to predict the cavitating
flow. Then, the pressure loaded on the inlet is
gradually reduced when the calculation is
converged at a given pressure value. In the
meantime, the transient simulation is also
executed to compare with the experimental
visualizations. The total time is set to 10T, where
T denotes the cycle time of the centrifugal pump.
And the step time T is set to T/120, which
implies that for one period time, the calculation
will be conducted at every 3.
4. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
For the convenience of comparing the results, a
couple of dimensionless parameters are defined
as:
Pump head coefficient
( )
2
2
2 H u g =
(17)
Cavitation number
( )
2
2
0.5
v in l
P P u o =
(18)
Pressure coefficient
2
2
( ) / 0.5
pt in l
C P P u = (19)
where u
2
is the circumferential velocity of
impeller outlet and P
in
represents the static
pressure of the inlet.
4.1 Pump cavitation performance
Fig. 8 plots the comparison of cavitation
performance between experiment and numerical
simulation results, which were calculated by the
original k model and the PANS model with four
different filters f
k
= 0.9, 0.7, 0.4 and 0.2. It is
clearly indicated that, with the decreasing f
k
value,
the pump head, obtained by the PANS model, is
getting closer to the experimental data. For higher
f
k
value, such as 0.9, the performance of the
PANS model seems similar to that of the original
k model.
At the cavitation number =1.2, when there is no
vapor generating in the pump, the pump head
coefficient is about 0.84 and 0.83 according to
the original k model and the PANS model with
f
k
=0.9, respectively. As for the PANS model
where f
k
drops to 0.2, the value is 0.76,
compared with 0.71 tested by experiment.
With the decreasing pressure, we can find that the
resemblance of cavitation inception, for all the
simulation results, approximately occurs at
=0.45. But for the original k model and the
PANS model with higher f
k
, the declining rate of
the pump head is smaller than those with lower f
k
.
To have a quantified interpretation, a critical
cavitation number
c
, which is defined as the
value when the pump head drops by 3%, are
summarized in Table 1. As seen, the PANS model
with f
k
=0.2 shows better prediction results:
c
=0.36 compared with 0.39 from experiment.
Whereas, the value obtained by the original k
model is 0.26.
Table 1 Comparison of critical cavitation number
c
between original k, PANS and experiment.
Original k
PANS
Exp.
fk=0.9 fk=0.7 fk=0.4 fk=0.2
0.26 0.29 0.30 0.34 0.36 0.39
4.2 Cavity distribution
Fig. 9 shows the comparison of vapor volume
fraction distribution between experimental
visualizations and simulations at the inlet region
of the impeller. For the computed results, the
isosurfaces of 10% vapor volume fraction are
Engineering Applications of Computational Fluid Mechanics Vol. 8, No. 2 (2014)
324
shown based on previous experience, which
indicates that it relates best to the real cavity
shapes (Okita and Kajishima, 2002). Four
different cavitation numbers are selected ranged
from 0.32 to 0.45 to present the cavity growth.
Apparently, the numerical simulations show a
good agreement with experiment, especially the
PANS model with the filter width of f
k
=0.2. The
image shows that the cavitation inception
approximately emerges at the leading edge of the
blade at = 0.45, demonstrating the conclusion
arrived before in Fig. 8. As for the pressure
dropping, compared to the original k model, the
PANS model with lower f
k
value captures more
detached bubbles at the rear of the cavity. The
reason is that more overpredicted eddy viscosity
is filtered out under higher filter f
k
, which is the
primary factor affecting cavity detachment. For
f
k
=0.9, the results are similar to those of the
original k model. It is important to note that the
asymmetrical cavity distribution is mainly caused
by the interaction between the impeller and vane
=0.45
=0.41
=0.37
=0.32
(a) Exp. (b) original k (c) f
k
=0.9 (d) f
k
=0.7 (e) f
k
=0.4 (f) f
k
=0.2
Fig. 9 Comparison of cavity distribution at impeller inlet between experimental visualizations and simulations.
Fig. 10 Comparison of unsteady cavity behavior in experimental visualizations and simulations (PANS with f
k
=0.2) at
=0.41.
Engineering Applications of Computational Fluid Mechanics Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 319329 (2014)
325
guide, which results in asymmetrical pressure
distribution on the blade surface.
According to the experimental visualizations, the
cavitation grows with the cavitation number
decreasing and the detached cavity is well
captured at the rear of cavity region, as can be
seen when drops to 0.41. Within the PANS
model, for a lower ratio of kinetic energy, such as
f
k
=0.2, the detached cavity can be clearly
observed.
To analyse the evolution of the cavitating flow in
a pump under a constant cavitation number, the
unsteady cavity behavior in experiments and
simulations (PANS with f
k
=0.2) are compared in
Fig. 10 at =0.41. As shown in the visualizations,
the attached cavity can be observed on the leading
edge of blades, or more precisely, it is attached in
the region conjoining the suction side of the
blades with hub and shroud. The bubbles travel
from the hub to the shroud along the blade
surface, which forms a triangular cavity shape.
And some small bubbles are shed from the
attached cavity with the impeller rotating.
Moreover, because of the interaction between the
impeller and vane guide mentioned above,
asymmetrical cavity distribution is observed: the
attached cavity in the upper region of the impeller
is much larger than in the lower part.
Undoubtedly, this asymmetry would induce the
pump vibration (Yang et al., 2011). Hence, with
the impeller rotating, the attached cavity size in
one channel becomes smaller firstly and then
recovers again. The unsteady simulation results,
computed by the PANS model with f
k
=0.2, are
also presented in Fig. 10. The asymmetrical
cavity and detached cavity are well captured.
However, it failed to obtain the triangular
attached cavity shape in the calculations. This
may be due to the Coriolis force and the
centrifugal force, which are not considered in the
turbulence model and cavitation model adopted in
this study. Nevertheless, the PANS model with
f
k
=0.2 still well predicts the unsteady cavity
behavior in the pump.
4.3 Eddy viscosity
As mentioned above, the original k model over
predicts the eddy viscosity and so fails to capture
the unsteady properties in the cavitating flow. Fig.
11 compares the eddy viscosity calculated by the
original k model and PANS model when =0.32
at span=0.5. And for a better comparison between
each cavitation condition, the eddy viscosity data
are normalized. It also should be noted that the
rotating direction in the figure is from bottom to
top.
Obviously, for the original k model, an over
predicted high eddy viscosity region is developed
on the suction side of the blade surface as
expected. On the other hand, with decreasing f
k
,
the PANS model effectively reduces the eddy
viscosity in the cavity region and captures some
irregular flow structure in the detached cavity
region. Because with the lower f
k
, the PANS
model reduces the dissipation in the flow, the
excess eddy viscosity region is filtered out,
resulting in more resolved flow features. It
demonstrates that the PANS model can obtain a
much better unsteady cavitating flow in
centrifugal pumps than the original k model.
Fig. 11 Comparison of eddy viscosity in impeller when
=0.32 at span=0.5 as between original k and
PANS.
Fig. 12 Comparison of blade load pressure under
various (PANS f
k
=0.2) at span=0.5.
4.4 Pressure distribution
In a bid to obtain a more detailed hydrodynamic
flow structure, the pressure distribution in the
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Engineering Applications of Computational Fluid Mechanics Vol. 8, No. 2 (2014)
326
Fig. 13 Pressure distribution under various at mid
plane of impeller.
impeller is analyzed in this section, including the
blade load pressure, the pressure distribution on
impeller, and the pressure fluctuations at the
pump inlet and outlet, which are validated by
experiment. Fig. 12 plots the blade load pressure
at span=0.5 along the streamwise coordinate. The
computational data are from the PANS model
with f
k
=0.2 under various cavitation numbers ,
ranged from 0.59 (noncavitation condition) to
0.32 (fully developed cavitation condition).
It should be noted that, in this figure, under one
cavitation condition, the upper curves are the data
of the pressure side surface, while the lower ones
are of the suction side. We can find the pressure
load distributions on both pressure and suction
sides are similar under different cavitation
numbers, except for the leading edge of the
suction side. And apparently, with decreasing
cavitation number, the pressure load has a sharp
drop. For high cavitation number situation, like
=0.59, the pressure load on the suction side
changes incrementally from the leading edge to
the trailing edge. It is mainly because there are no
bubbles attached on the blade in this situation.
But when the local pressure drops below the
liquid vaporized pressure, the bubbles firstly form
on the leading edge, which makes the nearby
pressure load on the suction side very low. This
phenomenon can be clearly observed while
decreases to 0.32. Under this condition the low
pressure region is much longer, which can be
explained in Fig. 13. It shows the pressure
coefficient distribution on the midplane cross the
impeller, normalized by equation (19).
We can notice that the pressure distribution
gradually increases from the impeller inlet to
outlet. And the low pressure region firstly
emerged on the leading edge of the suction side.
Then, with the decreasing cavitation number, the
region progressively expands downstream along
the blade surface and finally covers the pressure
side at =0.32. Meanwhile, due to the developed
cavitating flow attached on the suction side
surface, the reentrant flow can be observed in
Fig. 13c, which is highlighted by the red box.
The pressure fluctuations of the pump inlet and
outlet were also measured to validate the transient
simulations. Both of the experiment and the
simulation data in one cycle time are normalized
via equation (19) and plotted in Fig. 14. We can
notice that, during one period, the pressure
fluctuation changes periodically, not only under
the noncavitation condition =0.59, but also in
the cavitation state =0.32. Five peaks can be
found both in the experiments and numerical
simulations. With decreasing cavitation number,
the pressure coefficient C
pt
declined, however,
because the cavitation inception is slower in the
simulations, the experimental data of the pressure
fluctuations drop a little faster, leading to larger
discrepancy for the lower cavitation number
=0.32. Even so, the agreement between transient
numerical simulations and experiment is good,
demonstrating that the simulations are acceptable.
5. CONCLUSIONS
In this paper, the partiallyaveraged Navier
Stokes method, derived by Girimaji based on the
original k model, is utilized to predict the
cavitating flow in centrifugal pump with twisted
blades. With the constant filter f
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