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ChE 135 Process Engineering Laboratory Formal Report G4 version 2

Generating Operating Curves for Various Pump Operations

Kristoffer Francis P. Boado 1, Rio Ysabel A. Cañal1, Alyssa Camille M. Guanlao1
1 University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City

Abstract. The effects of multiple pumps and speeds on centrifugal pump performance were determined at 1600
RPM and 2000 RPM and at series and parallel setups. The total dynamic head of the pump was plotted against flow
rate for all configurations, for both speeds. An empirical formula for the still height as a function of flow rate was
used. The results were assessed based on how they fit the affinity laws, for the varying speeds, and the expected
trends for multiple pump configurations. In general, all setups were consistent with existing characteristic curves in
that the head decreases sharply as the flow rate increases. The pumps connected in series yielded heads similar to
the sum of the individual heads of the pumps while the pumps connected in parallel showed little variations in head.
Moreover, decreasing the RPM resulted in a decrease in total dynamic head however the change was not of a
similar magnitude to what the affinity laws predicted. The errors found in the data may be attributed to problems
with equipment. The use of the an empirical relationship for height limits this study to this specific system of
centrifugal pumps.
Keywords: Centrifugal pump; Total Dynamic Head; Series and parallel pumps; Affinity laws

1 Introduction energy of the moving fluid. The pump works by

directing the liquid into the suction port of the pump
Pumps are devices used in raising, transporting and and then into the inlet of the impeller. The spinning
compressing fluids by expending energy. They are impeller causes movement of the liquid along the
classified according to how energy is imparted into spinning vanes, and at the same time causes an
the fluid. Basic methods involved in pump operation increase in the kinetic energy of the liquid. The liquid
which also classify pumps are: (1) volumetric then flows out of the impeller vanes and moves into
displacement, and (2) addition of kinetic energy. the diffuser casing where conversion from the high
When pumps displace fluid mechanically, they are velocity of fluid to high pressure takes place by
called positive displacement pumps. However, when diffusion, after which it is directed to the discharge
kinetic energy or velocity is imparted to the fluid port of the pump and exits the system (Process
through the rapidly rotating impeller, these pumps are Industry Forum, 2018).
called kinetic or dynamic pumps. This velocity A pump characteristic curve is used to graphically
imparted to the fluid by kinetic pumps is then reflect the performance of a centrifugal pump. Typical
converted to pressure head (Encyclopedia Britannica, characteristic curves show the total dynamic head,
2018). brake horsepower, efficiency, and net positive suction
This study is mainly focused on characterizing head plotted against the flow rate or capacity range of
centrifugal pumps, an example of kinetic pumps. the pump (Green & Perry, 2007). Figure 1 is an
Centrifugal pumps make use of one or more impellers example of a pump characteristic curve as provided by
which are attached to and rotate with the pump shaft. a manufacturer. At different impeller diameters, the
This supplies the energy needed to transport the liquid curve shows the capacity of the pump at a given
through the pump and pressurize the liquid to move speed. Constant horsepower, NPSHR and efficiency
across the piping system. Thus, the pump enables the lines are superimposed above the total head curves. In
conversion of mechanical energy from a motor to the this study, the researchers aim to illustrate the
ChE 135 – G4 Version 2 – Pump Characteristic Curves

performance of multiple pump operations by not functional during experimentation and thus, the
generating different pump characteristic curves. suction head readings in this pump were all assumed
to be zero.

2 Materials and Methodology

2.1 Materials Used

A pump test rig capable of parallel and series pump
connections was used in this experiment, with the
pressure and flow rate readings being obtained from
the pressure gauges and flow meter attached to the rig,
respectively. Also included with the rig was a
reservoir for the water to be pumped, in which the
suction pumps were submerged during operation.
Figure 1. Centrifugal Pump Characteristic Curve
2.2 Methodology
A weir, consisting of a dam where liquid flows
through a notch, can be used to meter liquid flow in an The valves were adjusted such that it reflected the
open channel. In this study, a weir was used to setup shown in Figure 3a, after which the pump speed
measure the flow rate at the discharge of the pump(s). (initially at zero), was gradually increased to 2000
Empirical formulas for different types of weir may be RPM. The flow rate was then adjusted to 50 L/min,
used to relate the weir head (ho) to the flow rate. also from an initial value of zero, by rotating the
discharge valve counter clockwise. The suction and
discharge heads from the pressure gauges were
recorded in terms of meters H2O, then the flow rate
was increased to 100, 120, 140, and 160 L/min, with
the suction and discharge heads being recorded for
Figure 2. A Rectangular Weir each. The flow rate and pump speed were both set
back to zero before adjusting the apparatus to reflect
In the experimentation, the researchers made use the configuration in Figure 3b and repeating the
of a pump test rig with different valves that direct the procedure. The same was done for the configurations
liquid flow along the line. These valves create in Figures 3c and d. After that the entire process was
different configurations that generate multiple pump repeated, this time using a speed of 1600 RPM.
operations. Pressure gauges are also attached to the
suction and discharge of both pumps in the test rig
that enables the facilitation of pressure readings. This 3 Results and Discussion
study therefore aims that the experimenters be able to
familiarize themselves in operating a pump test rig, be 3.1 Calculation of Total Dynamic Head
able to understand how the valves may be
manipulated to attain a desired flow configuration, be The data obtained from the experiment was used to
able to take relevant pressure and flow rate readings, obtain the total dynamic head (TDH) using equation
be able to perform energy balances with reasonable 1, where P is pressure, ρ is density, g is the
simplifying assumptions, and be able to generate total acceleration due to gravity, v is velocity, z is
head vs. flow rate curves for each of the specified elevation, and F are the frictional losses. Because P
pump operation (i.e. single, series and parallel). It was already measured in meters H2O in this
must be noted, however, that the experimentation experiment, it did not need to be divided by density
made use of only two centrifugal pumps and thus, the and acceleration due to gravity.
study is limited to the analysis of these two specific
pumps only. In the analysis, the friction losses are also
assumed to be accounted in the total head. Moreover,
the suction pressure gauge of the second pump was
ChE 135 – G4 Version 2 – Pump Characteristic Curves

(a) (b)

(c) (d)
Figure 3. Schematic diagrams for different pump configurations (a) pump 1 configuration; (b) pump 2
configuration; (c) series configuration; (d) parallel configuration

To get the change in height, an empirical formula operation curves of the different configurations were
relating the flow rate (Q) and the change in height (h) plotted. Figures 4a through d show the TDH vs. Q
was utilized and is listed here as equation 2. data of the different configurations at two different
speeds, 1600 and 2000 RPM.
3.2 Interpretation of Data
In the given formula, Q is measured in cubic As seen in the graphs, the general trend that can be
meters per second (m3/s), while h is measured in observed is that increasing the flow rate sharply
meters (m). The variable Ce is equal to 0.5765. decreases the total dynamic head. This decrease in
To get the change in velocities from suction to head is a result of energy losses due to friction and
discharge, equation 3 was used to get the cross- vibrations which increase as the velocity increases.
sectional area, A. The suction and discharge pipes had Assuming a constant flow area, the velocity is directly
diameters of 31.75 mm and 25.4 mm, respectively. proportional to the volume of fluid flowing. Based on
After obtaining the cross-sectional area, equation 4 the mechanical energy equation, the total dynamic
was used to get the velocities. head has contributions from the elevation changes,
(3) velocity head and head loss. In the case of negligible
(4) losses due to friction, an increase in velocity will
result in a greater dynamic head however in a realistic
setting, the head loss term increases faster than the
After combining the changes in pressure, velocity, velocity head. Thus, at the shutoff point where there is
and height to get the total dynamic head, the pump
no flow, the maximum total head is achieved and at
ChE 135 – G4 Version 2 – Pump Characteristic Curves

(a) (b)

(c) (d)
Figure 4. The generated operating curves for the different pump configurations; (a) pump 1; (b) pump 2; (c) series
configuration; (d) parallel configuration; the blue triangles represent the data obtained at 2000 RPM, while the red squares
represent the data obtained at 1600 RPM

the runout point where the pump is operating at the (5)

maximum allowable flow rate, the total head is at its
lowest (Pumps, 2018).
In addition, adjusting the speed of the pumps shifts Therefore, doubling the RPM results in a four-fold
the pump characteristic curve. The change is governed increase in the total head. While the data follows the
by the affinity laws which describe the relationship expected trend of a direct relationship between the
between pump flow rate, brake horsepower, head and head and pump speed, the values do not follow the
speed. There are two sets of affinity laws that apply to affinity laws since the ratio of heads is not equivalent
two different scenarios: changing impeller diameters to the square of the ratio of speeds in RPM.
at a constant speed and changing pump speeds at a With that being said, the generated curves
constant impeller diameter (RAmueller, 2018). The generally correspond well to the ones in theory with
affinity laws for changing impeller diameters work the exception of the parallel pump setup. The
only for small changes in the impeller diameter since operation curve for a single pump is expected to have
the different sized impellers are not the exactly the a similar shape to that which is seen in Figure 1, while
same geometrically, thus introducing minor the curves of series and parallel pump operations are
differences. On the other hand, the affinity laws for sums of the individual pump curves. To put it in other
changing speeds are exact as the flow rates and head words, the series operation curve is obtained by
depend only on the speed and not the shape of the adding the TDH of pumps 1 and 2 at a certain flow
impeller (Menon, 2004). rate, while the parallel operation curve is obtained by
The system in the experiment deals with a constant adding the Q of pumps 1 and 2 at a dynamic head. If
impeller diameter system with varying speeds. The the pumps are similar, then the series curve has double
effect of speed on the head is given by equation 5. the TDH for a given flow rate than a single pump, and
ChE 135 – G4 Version 2 – Pump Characteristic Curves

the parallel curve has double the Q for a given head providing the needed flow rate or head. The addition
(Ballun, 2015). of another pump will result in an increase in the total
head, flow rate or both although how much each
3.3 Sources of Error property changes depends on the configuration
(Menon, 2004). Pumps connected in series are used
However, despite fitting well enough with the for systems that cannot meet the head requirement. In
observed trends for both single and multiple pumps, a series pump system, the discharge from the first
the resulting graphs are not completely accurate and pump enters the next pump. As such, the flow rate
there has been some deviation from the theoretical. across all pumps are equal with the head contribution
The parallel pump configuration, in particular, shows of each pump adding up as the liquid flows through
the greatest deviation from theoretical values. This each pump. In contrast, pumps connected in parallel
could be due to the fact that the suction for pump 2 are used primarily for systems where a higher flow
was assumed zero, when it is likely that is not actually rate is needed. In a parallel connection, the total head
the case. The parallel configuration curve would be across all pumps are the same at the point where all
the most affected by this because it would cause a streams converge while the individual capacities of
larger difference between the changes in pressure of the pumps add up (da Costa Bortoni, de Almeida and
pump 1 and 2. Them having different pressure Viana, 2008). In addition to the head and flow rate
changes causes them to have different values for the requirements, other factors such as the flexibility of
TDH, which should not be the case. operation and the changes in elevation must be
Another possible reason for deviation could be considered (Menon, 2004).
due to the needles’ fluctuations in their gauges,
presumably caused by leaky connections. This
fluctuation led to inaccurate and imprecise readings. It
4 Conclusion and Recommendation
is also possible that the use of the empirical formula
given in equation 2 introduced some error in solving The performance of single centrifugal pumps and
for the Total Dynamic Head, seeing as it lacks any multiple pumps connected in series and parallel were
theoretical basis and thus, may not apply to all investigated across different speeds. This was done by
conditions. plotting the total dynamic head versus flow rate of
Aside from that, the valves could have also been a each setup at 2000 RPM and 1600 RPM. The total
source of error. There are four valves in the setup: one dynamic head was obtained using the mechanical
controls if water goes to pump 1, one controls if water energy equation and the velocities were obtained
goes to pump 2, one controls if water flows from using the continuity equation while an empirical
pump 1 to 2, and the last one opens a route from pump relation between the still height and flow rate was
1 to the exit if pump 2 is to be avoided. These valves used to determine the changes in elevation. Lastly, the
are opened or closed to direct the flow of water and head losses were combined with total dynamic head,
which pumps it will pass, depending on the desired eliminating the need for separate calculations.
operation. If the valves were not fully opened or The obtained TDH vs. Q curves showed trends
closed, this could have affected the flow rates and consistent with those expected in theory, that is, all
pressures of the different parts of the rig. characteristic curves featured sharp decreases in total
dynamic head at greater flow rates. In addition,
3.4 Applications decreasing the pump speed also decreased the total
head. However, the ratios of the total heads and the
Although there were multiple sources of errors flow rates were not in agreement with the affinity
(majority of which were equipment based), the laws. For the multiple pump systems, the pumps
researchers would like to reiterate that while not connected in series at both speeds had a higher head
completely accurate, the graphs still conform well with values near the sum of the individual heads. The
enough to show the differences between series and pumps connected in parallel however showed little
parallel pump configurations. These differences are variation in dynamic head as a function of flow rate,
especially important for selecting what configuration yielding a nearly horizontal trendline.
to use when multiple pumps are needed. The observed properties of the system are limited
Multiple connected pumps are usually used in to identical centrifugal pumps connected in series and
systems where a single pump is incapable of parallel. In addition to this, the empirical correlation
ChE 135 – G4 Version 2 – Pump Characteristic Curves

used to relate height and flow rate lacks any

theoretical basis and may specific to this system only.
Errors and inconsistencies with the theoretical values
may be due to the faulty gauges as the pressure gauge
for Pump 2 was not functional and the pressure
readings were usually fluctuating. Moreover, the use
of smaller increments and properly calibrated readings
may improve the findings of this study. Also, the
effects across several speeds instead of two may better
illustrate its effect on the characteristic curve.

Ballun, J. (2015, January 22) How To Operate
Centrifugal Pumps In Series Or Parallel.
Retrieved from
da Costa Bortoni, E., de Almeida, R. and Viana, A.
(2008). Optimization of parallel variable-speed-
driven centrifugal pumps operation. Energy
Efficiency, 1(3), pp.167-173.
Encyclopedia Britannica. (2018). Pump | engineering.
[online] Available at:
[Accessed 4 Feb. 2018].
Green, D. and Perry, R. (2007). Perry's Chemical
Engineers' Handbook (8th Edition). Blacklick,
USA: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing.
Menon, E. (2004). Liquid pipeline hydraulics. New
York: Marcel Dekker, pp.134-136;141-144. (2018). Fluid Machinery. [online]
Available at:
_10.html [Accessed 4 Feb. 2018].
Process Industry Forum. (2018). What is a Centrifugal
Pump?. [online] Available at:
ferent-types-pumps-centrifugal-pumps [Accessed
4 Feb. 2018].
Pumps, G. (2018). Head | Pump Head and Shut-Off
Head Pressure Explained. [online] Available at:
[Accessed 4 Feb. 2018]. (2018). Affinity Laws - Definitions &
Applications - RA Mueller. [online] Available at:
handbook/affinity-laws/index.html [Accessed 4
Feb. 2018].
ChE 135 – G4 Version 2 – Pump Characteristic Curves

Appendix: TDH Calculations

Height Factor D_suction (m) D_discharge (m) A_suction (m2) A_discharge (m2)
1.361907279 0.03175 0.0254 0.00079173 0.000506707
Pump 1
2000 RPM
Q (L/min) Q (m3/s) change in height (m) change in pressure (m) v_suction (m/s) v_discharge (m/s) Squares Diff Diff/2g TDH (m)
50 0.000833333 0.050990417 5.8 1.052546795 1.644604368 1.59686877 0.081389846 5.932380262
100 0.001666667 0.06755384 5 2.105093591 3.289208736 6.387475081 0.325559382 5.393113222
120 0.002 0.072728848 4.25 2.526112309 3.947050483 9.197964116 0.468805511 4.791534358
140 0.002333333 0.077408532 2.55 2.947131027 4.60489223 12.51945116 0.638096389 3.265504921
160 0.002666667 0.081702167 - 3.368149745 5.262733977 16.35193621 0.833432019 #VALUE!
1600 RPM
Q (L/min) Q (m3/s) change in height (m) change in pressure (m) v_suction (m/s) v_discharge (m/s) Squares Diff Diff/2g TDH (m)
50 0.000833333 0.050990417 2.45 1.052546795 1.644604368 1.59686877 0.081389846 2.582380262
100 0.001666667 0.06755384 1.4 2.105093591 3.289208736 6.387475081 0.325559382 1.793113222
120 0.002 0.072728848 0.65 2.526112309 3.947050483 9.197964116 0.468805511 1.191534358
140 0.002333333 0.077408532 - 2.947131027 4.60489223 12.51945116 0.638096389 #VALUE!
160 0.002666667 0.081702167 - 3.368149745 5.262733977 16.35193621 0.833432019 #VALUE!

Pump 2
2000 RPM
Q (L/min) Q (m3/s) change in height (m) change in pressure (m) v_suction (m/s) v_discharge (m/s) Squares Diff Diff/2g TDH (m)
50 0.000833333 0.050990417 5 1.052546795 1.644604368 1.59686877 0.081389846 5.132380262
100 0.001666667 0.06755384 4.2 2.105093591 3.289208736 6.387475081 0.325559382 4.593113222
120 0.002 0.072728848 4 2.526112309 3.947050483 9.197964116 0.468805511 4.541534358
140 0.002333333 0.077408532 2.9 2.947131027 4.60489223 12.51945116 0.638096389 3.615504921
160 0.002666667 0.081702167 2 3.368149745 5.262733977 16.35193621 0.833432019 2.915134185
1600 RPM
Q (L/min) Q (m3/s) change in height (m) change in pressure (m) v_suction (m/s) v_discharge (m/s) Squares Diff Diff/2g TDH (m)
50 0.000833333 0.050990417 2.5 1.052546795 1.644604368 1.59686877 0.081389846 2.632380262
100 0.001666667 0.06755384 1.8 2.105093591 3.289208736 6.387475081 0.325559382 2.193113222
120 0.002 0.072728848 1 2.526112309 3.947050483 9.197964116 0.468805511 1.541534358
140 0.002333333 0.077408532 0.1 2.947131027 4.60489223 12.51945116 0.638096389 0.815504921
160 0.002666667 0.081702167 - 3.368149745 5.262733977 16.35193621 0.833432019 #VALUE!

2000 RPM
Q (L/min) Q (m3/s) change in height (m) change in pressure (m) v_suction (m/s) v_discharge (m/s) Squares Diff Diff/2g TDH (m)
50 0.000833333 0.050990417 11.5 1.052546795 1.644604368 1.59686877 0.081389846 11.63238026
100 0.001666667 0.06755384 9.85 2.105093591 3.289208736 6.387475081 0.325559382 10.24311322
120 0.002 0.072728848 7.45 2.526112309 3.947050483 9.197964116 0.468805511 7.991534358
140 0.002333333 0.077408532 5.4 2.947131027 4.60489223 12.51945116 0.638096389 6.115504921
160 0.002666667 0.081702167 2.6 3.368149745 5.262733977 16.35193621 0.833432019 3.515134185
1600 RPM
Q (L/min) Q (m3/s) change in height (m) change in pressure (m) v_suction (m/s) v_discharge (m/s) Squares Diff Diff/2g TDH (m)
50 0.000833333 0.050990417 6.05 1.052546795 1.644604368 1.59686877 0.081389846 6.182380262
100 0.001666667 0.06755384 4 2.105093591 3.289208736 6.387475081 0.325559382 4.393113222
120 0.002 0.072728848 1.9 2.526112309 3.947050483 9.197964116 0.468805511 2.441534358
140 0.002333333 0.077408532 0.4 2.947131027 4.60489223 12.51945116 0.638096389 1.115504921
160 0.002666667 0.081702167 - 3.368149745 5.262733977 16.35193621 0.833432019 #VALUE!

2000 RPM
Q (L/min) Q (m3/s) change in height (m) change in pressure (m) v_suction (m/s) v_discharge (m/s) Squares Diff Diff/2g TDH (m)
118.8589105 0.001980982 0.072448178 5.6 2.502091307 3.909517667 9.023867482 0.459932084 6.132380262 168.8589105
50 0.000833333 0.050990417 6 1.052546795 1.644604368 1.59686877 0.081389846 6.132380262
100 0.001666667 0.06755384 5.6 2.105093591 3.289208736 6.387475081 0.325559382 5.993113222 213.841168
113.841168 0.001897353 0.071194399 5.5 2.396463131 3.744473643 8.278047321 0.421918824 5.993113222
120 0.002 0.072728848 5.4 2.526112309 3.947050483 9.197964116 0.468805511 5.941534358 272.9207903
152.9207903 0.00254868 0.080221293 5.1 3.219125756 5.029883993 14.93696235 0.761313066 5.941534358
140 0.002333333 0.077408532 5.25 2.947131027 4.60489223 12.51945116 0.638096389 5.965504921 304.6749104
164.6749104 0.002744582 0.082658649 5.5 3.466560985 5.416501538 17.32144386 0.882846272 6.465504921
160 0.002666667 0.081702167 5.15 3.368149745 5.262733977 16.35193621 0.833432019 6.065134185 342.0567477
182.0567477 0.003034279 0.086078702 4.9 3.832464927 5.988226449 21.17106858 1.079055483 6.065134185
1600 RPM
Q (L/min) Q (m3/s) change in height (m) change in pressure (m) v_suction (m/s) v_discharge (m/s) Squares Diff Diff/2g TDH (m)
50 0.000833333 0.050990417 3.41 1.052546795 1.644604368 1.59686877 0.081389846 3.542380262 157.0300059
107.0300059 0.001783833 0.069438246 3.1 2.253081794 3.520440304 7.31712236 0.372942016 3.542380262
100 0.001666667 0.06755384 3.3 2.105093591 3.289208736 6.387475081 0.325559382 3.693113222 237.5823386
137.5823386 0.002293039 0.076865127 3 2.896236992 4.5253703 12.09078764 0.616248096 3.693113222
120 0.002 0.072728848 3.09 2.526112309 3.947050483 9.197964116 0.468805511 3.631534358 261.7063487
141.7063487 0.002361772 0.077788678 2.9 2.983051264 4.6610176 12.82649023 0.653745679 3.631534358
140 0.002333333 0.077408532 2.65 2.947131027 4.60489223 12.51945116 0.638096389 3.365504921 295.260701
155.260701 0.002587678 0.080715237 2.5 3.268383066 5.10684854 15.39757415 0.784789712 3.365504949
160 0.002666667 0.081702167 2.25 3.368149745 5.262733977 16.35193621 0.833432019 3.165134185 324.6409728
164.6409728 0.002744016 0.082651765 2.2 3.465846566 5.41538526 17.31430509 0.882482421 3.165134185