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End User’s Checklist for Centrifugal Pump Performance Testing

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End User’s Checklist for Centrifugal Pump


Performance Testing
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How to specify and witness a test in order to achieve the best


possible outcome for a facility.
by Jim Aubrey
May 2, 2017

Whether a pump is new, used and recently modified, or freshly refurbished with a critical
service mission, end users routinely specify hydraulic performance acceptance tests to
guarantee pump performance. Performance testing can be complex and should account for a
multitude of variables.

Test loop designs can vary both in system design and instrumentation selection. Image 1
shows an example of an open pit, vertical test loop used to test large, high-capacity vertical
pumps; however, test loop designs vary greatly across the industry.

Pump applications can represent a wide range of tolerance requirements for flow, head,
efficiency, brake horsepower (BHP) and net positive suction head required (NPSHR). For
these reasons, the pump industry adopted testing standards that are used to detail the
methodology for testing centrifugal pumps and define whether a pump has met the
performance specifications.

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End User’s Checklist for Centrifugal Pump Performance Testing

Image 1. An example of an open pit, vertical test loop used to test large, high-capacity vertical pumps (Images and graphics
courtesy of Rotating Equipment Repair Inc.)

The end user must ensure that the testing standard, along with the acceptance grade, is
properly specified from the beginning in the procurement contract, based on the specific
pumping system requirements.

The following checklist is primarily based on testing to Hydraulic Institute (HI) 14.6-2016,
although American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and American Petroleum
Institute (API) specifications can be used with equivalent results.

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End User’s Checklist for Centrifugal Pump Performance Testing

End users must also specify in the purchase


contract if they would like the acceptance test
to be witnessed or non-witnessed. Witnessed
testing will typically come with an increased
cost; however, this practice allows the
purchaser to be present during testing and
data collection, ensuring the test’s integrity.
Many modern test facilities offer remote
witnessing via web cams and screen sharing.
This eliminates travel expenses for the
purchaser, while achieving the goal of a
witnessed test.

For on-site witnessed tests, the following


checklist will offer the end user a helpful
guide to ensure an accurate and successful
process.

Before the Test


Figure 1. This graph shows the corrected test curves for
a vertical single stage pump.

Verify that any necessary elevation


corrections will be made to the head
readings. Unless the pressure gauges are
located precisely at the suction and discharge
centerlines, a head correction must be made
to account for the difference between the
pump centerline elevation and the
measurement elevation.

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End User’s Checklist for Centrifugal Pump Performance Testing

Ensure that 10 pipe diameters of smooth


bore, straight pipe are present before, and five
pipe diameters are present after, the flow
measurement instrumentation. This ensures a
fully developed, uniform velocity profile at
the flow measurement section.

Verify that pressure tappings are no closer


than two pipe diameters away from the
suction/discharge flanges. This ensures a
fully developed, uniform velocity profile at
the pressure measurement section.

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Figures 2. This graph shows the raw test curves for a


vertical single stage pump.

Confirm that the methodology for


calculating pump BHP meets expectations. If
motor input power is used in conjunction
with the motor nameplate efficiency, ensure
that the test is being conducted at the motor’s
rated or tested speed with a pure electrical
signal (line power). If the motor is powered
with a variable frequency drive (VFD), the
nameplate efficiency is no longer valid,
especially at different speeds. The most
accurate method for determining BHP is a
calibrated torque transducer and tachometer.
Most commercially available torque

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End User’s Checklist for Centrifugal Pump Performance Testing

transducers directly couple between the motor


and pump (see Image 2). They are designed
to give calibrated data for both torque and
revolutions per minute (rpm).

Verify that the rotational speed is being


measured accurately with a calibrated Image 2. A torque transducer that directly couples
between the motor and pump.
tachometer. Using the motor’s rated speed for
every flow point will result in inaccuracies.
The motor slip changes as loading conditions
change, moving along the BHP/torque curve
from pump shutoff to run-out.

Verify that the water being used meets cleanliness and chloride requirements specifically
for pumps constructed from austenitic stainless steel to alleviate stress-corrosion cracking
concerns.
It is prudent to do this well in advance of the test date, before the pump is filled with water.

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End User’s Checklist for Centrifugal Pump Performance Testing (Page 2)

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PUMPS

End User’s Checklist for Centrifugal Pump


Performance Testing (Page 2)
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How to specify and witness a test in order to achieve the best


possible outcome for a facility.
by Jim Aubrey
May 2, 2017

Discuss how many and which flow points are to be tested.Most standards specify a
minimum of five test points. However, the purchaser may elect to have significantly more
points tested to better define the performance curve. Most standards also specify two
required test points. One test point must be taken within -5 and 0 percent, while another
must be taken within 0 and +5 percent of the guarantee flow rate. The remaining test points
may be evenly spread across the operating range, or at specific flow rates at the purchaser’s
request (shutoff, minimum flow, run-out, etc.).

Request a safety briefing to discuss all potential hazards prior to beginning the test.
Hydraulic performance acceptance tests are conducted with temporary piping systems,
custom movable structural supports and in the presence of high-voltage/high-current
electricity. Caution should be taken by all parties to ensure that the test is performed safely.

During the Test


After start-up, make sure the gauge lines are vented or purged of all air. Air pockets or
bubbles can cause significant measurement inaccuracies.
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End User’s Checklist for Centrifugal Pump Performance Testing (Page 2)

Image 3. The basic arrangement of a ring manifold on two separate test lines.

For grade 1 testing, ensure that the pressure gauges are taking readings from a ring
manifold consisting of four pressure tappings. Image 3 shows the basic arrangement of a ring
manifold on two separate test lines at a test loop in Sussex, Wisconsin. Before taking any test
points, the flow must be verified to be free of swirl or asymmetry that could affect the
measurement’s accuracy. The procedure to verify this is simple. After start-up, achieve
stable flow at the guarantee point. Each of the four pressure tappings should then be isolated,
one at a time, and the pressure reading recorded. If one of the readings varies by more than
0.5 percent of the arithmetic mean of the measurements, or by more than 1 times the velocity
head at that measurement section, a swirl or asymmetry has been identified. The swirl or
asymmetry must be corrected before the test can be conducted. A swirl condition is usually
easily correctable with the installation of flow straighteners upstream of the pressure
tappings.

For vertical pump tests in an open pit, verify that there are no vortices present at the
water’s surface extending down into the pump inlet. Such vortices can significantly affect
pump performance.

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End User’s Checklist for Centrifugal Pump Performance Testing (Page 2)

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Ensure that after each change in flow setting, the amplitude of fluctuation for each
measured parameter is acceptable within the limits of the standard being tested. This criteria
must be met for a minimum of 10 seconds; however, many test labs will use a more
conservative value of about two minutes at each flow point before taking a data point.

After the Test


Check all calculated data points including total dynamic head (TDH), BHP, pump
efficiency and NPSHR using the raw instrument data and published equations from test
standards or another reliable engineering text. The data corrected for rated speed and specific
gravity (SG) should also be double-checked. The corrections can be achieved using the
affinity laws and the ratio of test SG to field SG. These corrections can be significant and
should not be overlooked. Figures 1 and 2 show raw and corrected test curves for a vertical
single stage pump (see page 68). Note differences between them, specifically in pumping
efficiency. Prepare an Excel spreadsheet prior to your trip so you can quickly check
calculated data after the test.

Review each instrument’s calibration certificate, which should be included in the final
certified test report. Ensure that none of the instrumentations are outside of their calibration
interval and that they have been calibrated with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) traceable standards, or to whichever
standard that your quality assurance deems necessary. Also, verify that each instrument’s
stated accuracy is less than the maximum permissible device uncertainty specified in the test
standard.

Confirm that the corrected performance curve meets requirements of the purchase contract,
based on the tolerance values in the test standard. It is recommended that this determination

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End User’s Checklist for Centrifugal Pump Performance Testing (Page 2)

be made prior to removing the pump from the test stand, in case a retest is required.

While this checklist should serve as a useful tool for end users charged with specifying and
witnessing performance tests, the responsibility of performing an accurate test lies with the
test lab. Still, a cursory understanding of performance testing and associated standards
empowers end users to ensure the performance of equipment while providing value to the
procurement/refurbishment process.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jim Aubrey, P.E., holds a BSME from the University of Florida and an MBA from the University of
Wisconsin. Aubrey is the manager of engineering for Rotating Equipment Repair Inc. He also serves as
the lead-designer and operator of RER’s test loop facility in Sussex, Wisconsin. He may be reached at
JRA@rerpump.com.

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