This paper presents a numerical investigation of the effect of tip clearance on the suction performance and flow characteristics at different flow rates in a vertical mixed-flow pump. Numerical analyses were carried out by solving three-dimensional Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes equations. Steady computations were performed for three different tip clearances under noncavitating and cavitating conditions at design and off-design conditions. The pump performance test was performed for the mixed-flow pump and numerical results were validated by comparing the experimental data for a system characterized by the original tip clearance. It was shown that for large tip clearance, the head breakdown occurred earlier at the design and high flow rates. However, the head breakdown was quite delayed at low flow rate. This resulted from the cavitation structure caused by the tip leakage flow at different flow rates.

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