The pre-rotation phenomenon found at the inlet pipe of a pump under small flow rate was observed but the mechanism was not discovered. To do this, an unsteady CFD simulation with the flow rate decreasing from the best design point to a small flow rate was carried out. The numerical results show that a critical point when pre-rotation occurs exists. The flow pattern evolution on the S1 and S2 stream surface, as well as the pressure distribution at in the inlet, was analyzed. It is shown that it is the reverse flow appeared near the shroud at the leading edge which leads to the occurrence of pre-rotation. The pre-rotation only exist in the periphery of the inlet pipe and the propagation length is limited.

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