An optimization of modified shrouded impeller with a curved spacer to suppress the unsteady flow recirculation was pursed. Centrifugal pumps are required to sustain a stable operation of the system they support under all operating conditions. Effect of minor geometrical modifications on the flow inside the three dimensional impeller passages are yet not fully understood, leading to costly trial and error approaches in the solution of instability problems. The idea of using a curved spacer to enhance the specified centrifugal impeller characteristics was validated. This modification with positioning the successful curved spacer prototype model at the impeller inlet section provided a wider pressure operation range at both low and high flow rates in a high-speed centrifugal pump type.
Seven curved spacer models were numerically analyzed in combination with the same original closed type impeller. The research investigated the effects of each inlet curved spacer model on the impeller’s performance improvement. The flow field inside a centrifugal pump is known to be fully turbulent, three-dimensional, and unsteady associated with secondary flow recirculation and separation at the impeller’s inlet and exit section. The rotor-stator interaction mechanisms or other unsteady effects often influence the water flow. The present research addresses the problem of Net Positive Suction Head Required (NPSHR) increase due to flow recirculation at the impeller suction side. The three dimensional unsteady water flow inside different models were analyzed by using a 3-D Navier-Stokes code with a standard k-ε turbulence model. The computational domain consists of four main zones: inlet, impeller hub, vanes, and outlet. The measurements with test rig were conducted for the pump hydraulic performances and flow field in the impeller passages. The numerical simulation and experimental tests of prototype performance concluded:
(1) Positioning a 3-D curved spacer at the impeller inlet section has a great impact on the centrifugal pump performance.
(2) Favorite effects were achieved on impeller performance by separating the inlet flow region into two lanes.
(3) The curved spacer resulted in improvement of closed impeller inlet static and total pressure values.
(4) Q-ΔP-η data and flow structures in the impeller passages were analyzed.