Optimizing the high efficiency design of centrifugal pumps requires a detailed understanding of the internal flow. The prediction of the flow inside the pump can be acquired by understanding the rotatory motion and the three-dimensional shape of the impellers, as well as its fundamental unsteady behavior. The flow inside a centrifugal pump is three-dimensional, unsettled and always associated with secondary flow structures. When a centrifugal pump operates under low flow rates, a secondary flow, known as recirculation, starts to begin. Inside this, the separation of flow increases, which creates vortices and cause local pressure to decrease, which induces cavitation. This phenomenon of recirculation will increase the Net Positive Suction Head Required (NPSHR).
Improving the suction performance continues to remain a vital and continuous topic in the development and application of centrifugal pumps. In this research, the focal point is to enhance the pump suction performance under low flow rates by modifying the impeller design. This research entails a numerical simulation investigation on the addition of three different designs, each consisting of two cylindrical disks at the impeller inlet suction. It is hypothesized that these modifications will assist suppressing the recirculation phenomenon. The turbulent flow within the centrifugal pump was analyzed by applying the Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes equations and the k–ϵ equations for turbulence modelling. The computational domain consists of the inlet, impeller, diffuser and outlet. Analysis of ΔP, torque data and pump efficiency was conducted. The application of CFD solvers to predict pump performance resulted in reduced prices for testing as well as pump development time.
The numerical simulation concluded that placing 3-D multi-cylindrical disks at the impeller inlet section improved the centrifugal pump performance under low flow rates. The model design 1 resulted in a pump efficiency improvement of about 5% at low flow rates by lowering the amount of flow leaking back (re-circulation) through the internal suction.