In centrifugal pump, due to intense rotor-stator interaction, high amplitude pressure pulsating would be induced, and it has a crucial influence on the stable operating of the pump. In this paper, a low specific speed centrifugal pump is investigated to illustrate unsteady flow within the centrifugal pump. Pressure pulsation signals are attained by mounting 20 monitoring points along the spiral volute, covering all the interested region of the model pump. FFT (Fast Fourier Transform algorithm) is applied to analyze the time-domain pressure signals.

Results show that in pressure spectra, evident peaks at blade passing frequency fBPF together with its high harmonics can be identified, and the amplitudes are closely associated with operating conditions of the model pump and the positions of the monitoring points. At nominal flow rate, four vortical regions with high amplitude are captured inside the model pump. And the unsteady vortical structure at the near tongue region is related to the relative position of the impeller with respect to the tongue, and the upstream effect of the volute tongue significantly affects the vorticity distribution on the blade pressure side.

At off-design conditions, the interaction pattern between the vortical structure and the volute tongue is significantly affected compared with that at the rated condition, as to the upstream effect of the tongue. At high flow rate, partial vortex would separate from the main vortex, but at low flow rate, the cutting and impingement effects of the tongue are much weaker due to almost all the vortex moving to the narrow side of the tongue.

Based on the analysis of rotor-stator interaction in the model pump, some conclusions could be obtained. Pressure amplitudes at fBPF are associated with the positions of monitoring points and operating conditions of the model pump. Vorticity magnitude at blade exit increases as the impeller passes the volute tongue. And the fluid-dynamic blade-volute interaction is dominated by the vorticity shedding from blade trailing edge and their impingement on the volute tongue with subsequent cutting and distortion. And high pressure amplitude is generated with the corresponding high vorticity magnitude observed. So the intense interaction between flow structures (jet-wake pattern) and volute tongue is crucial to unsteady pressure pulsation. Thus, to lower pressure pulsation amplitude and fluid dynamic forces, controlling the vortical structure at blade trailing edge is an effective method.

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