The behaviour of the relative flow in centrifugal turbomachines is extremely complex due to the existence of various fluid dynamic phenomena and their interaction. At design and off-design operating conditions, the relative flow is subject to stationary unsteadiness which includes flow separation and wakes associated with passage pressure gradients, secondary flows, and boundary layer stability. It may also be subject to periodic unsteadiness such as is the rotating stall and cyclic flow phenomena induced by the casing.

This paper describes detailed measurements of the relative velocity field in a very low specific speed centrifugal pump impeller (Ns=515). Measurements were conducted by means of a recently developed rotating laser-Doppler anemometry system. Detailed quantitative description of the mean and fluctuating components of the primary and secondary velocity fields are presented for an impeller without volute at design, 50% design and shut-off conditions. The flow pattern in this low specific speed impeller with high blade loading is dominated by the relative eddy (a phenomenon also present in potential flow) which has suppressed suction side separation. When the impeller was fitted with a volute, the cyclic variation of the impeller exit flow, induced by the volute at low flow rates, is also presented.

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