Centrifugal pumps curve instability, characterized by a local dent and uprising head curve, often causes severe problems such as vibrations and noises. At low flow rates, stability of performance curve is necessary for reliable operation of the pump. Most of the studies regarding centrifugal pumps curves instability focus on flow rate around 60 % of the best efficiency flow rate. The purpose of present investigation is to analyse the causes of the occurrence of performance curve instability by means of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and to understand the mechanism of such instability at flow rates around 30 % of best efficiency flow rate.
In order to understand the causes of the performance curve instability, two impellers with different outlet shape are analysed. During experimental tests, performance curve instability appeared around 30 % of the best efficiency flow rate on the first impeller while the second impeller remains stable. CFD analysis also shows unstable performance curve for the first impeller, and stable for the second one. Hence, a detailed analysis of the flow field of the two impellers and a quantitative comparison are performed in order to characterize the instability phenomenon.