A study is presented on the numerical computation of the unsteady flow through a single suction and single volute centrifugal pump equipped with three impellers of different outlet diameter. Computations were performed by means of the Fluent code, solving the 3D URANS equations. The study was focused on the effect of varying the impeller-volute radial gap on the flow perturbations associated to the fluid-dynamic blade-tongue interaction. In order to contrast the numerical predictions, an experimental series of tests was conducted for the pump with the bigger impeller, to obtain pressure fluctuation data along the volute front wall. Finally, the results from the numerical simulations were used to compute the radial forces at the blade passing frequency, as a function of flow-rate and blade-tongue radial gap.

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