Numerical simulations of centrifugal pumps with low specific speed show significant differences in calculated efficiency from experiments. This causes designers to refrain from CFD methods and stick to prototyping. Investigations regarding the applicability of numerical simulations on these pumps are carried out. Unsteady simulations of a low specific speed pump are performed. The focus of this paper is boundary layer treatment, as losses due to boundary layer flow are dominant in low specific speed pumps. The wall-function as well as the low-Reynolds-number method is applied for boundary layer treatment. A method to calculate the local modeling error of the wall-function method is introduced. Experiments on a test pump are conducted to validate the simulations. Performance curves, locally highly resolved pressure distributions and velocity profiles are obtained. Simulations with resolved boundary layers match experimental data very good. It is shown that simulated efficiency is sensitive to the boundary layer treatment. The wall-function simulations deviate significantly at off-design flow rate, particularly at overload. The analysis reveals that modeling errors of the wall-function method mainly contribute to incorrect loss prediction. A local modeling error distribution is calculated and a meshing guideline for low specific speed pumps is derived.

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