This work presents a numerical investigation of the fluid flow in the first stage of a two-stage centrifugal pump with a vaned diffuser. A computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis is performed by using the ANSYS-CFX software for a wide range of volumetric flow rates and also for different rotor speeds. The numerical results are validated against measured values of pressure rise through the impeller and diffuser of the first stage with an overall good agreement. Nevertheless, not only the best efficiency point evaluated numerically is overestimated in comparison with the measured two-stage pump values but also the computed hydraulic efficiency of the first stage. Investigation of the flow pattern for different flow rates reveals that the flow becomes badly oriented for part-load conditions. In such cases, significant levels of turbulence and blade orientation effects are observed, mainly in the diffuser. In spite of different flow rates or rotor speeds, the flow pattern is quite similar if the flow dimensionless coefficient is kept constant, showing that classical similarity rules can be applied in this case. By using such rules, it was also possible to derive a single equation for the pump head to represent the whole operational range of the pump.

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