The unsteady flow in a high-head pump-turbine whose head-discharge curve has the positive slopes at high-partial-load operation condition was investigated. It is noted that the numerical methods is very important for predicting this kind of head-discharge curve with positive slopes, and better agreement between calculation results and experimental data was achieved by using Spalart-Allmaras turbulence model and mesh strategy with y+ controlling for numerical simulation. From the analysis of hydraulic losses at different parts in the pump turbine, it is found that the head loss at the flow passage of the guide vane and stay vane was not small at pump mode. In order to make clear the reason why the positive slopes at head-discharge curve occur, the flow between the impeller exit and the inlet of spiral casing was checked carefully. Much intensive vortex was observed near the impeller shroud, and there was strong rotor stator interaction for those operation conditions with positive slope. It is suspected the instability such as positive slope at head-discharge curve was resulted from the vortex formation near the flow channel wall. Based on the flow analysis, the runner optimization was conducted so as to mitigate the intensive rotor stator interaction. It is noted that the pressure fluctuation as well as the flow pattern was improved by applying the optimized impeller.

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