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DOI: 10.1016/S1001-6058(16)60822-3

Design and experiment of the centrifugal pump impellers with twisted inlet vice
blades *

Hong-xun Chen (陈红勋), Jian-wu He (何建武), Chao Liu (刘超)

Shanghai Institute of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics, Shanghai University, Shanghai 200072, China,
E-mail: chenhx@shu.edu.cn

(Received July 10, 2017, Revised August 14, 2017)

Abstract: In order to introduce gap drainage technology into practice, the design concept and expression format of spatial geometry
are proposed for gap drainage impeller with twisted vice blades. First, the profile of vice blade at leading edge and relative position
of main blade need to be parameterized. In addition, the influence of these parameters on the performance of a centrifugal pump
should be studied. After the above-mentioned work is done, a centrifugal pump with good performance can be designed. On the basis
of previous research results, the geometric parameters of twisted blades are determined and the centrifugal pump impellers are
designed and manufactured. Through performance tests and cavitation tests, it is verified that the twisted vice blades on centrifugal
pumps are effective and practical.

Key words: Centrifugal pump, gap drainage technique, twisted blade, parameterization, performance, experiment

Gap drainage technology is a design scheme for inlet flow channel area. This made flow velocity field
centrifugal pump impellers proposed by the author. distribution more uniform to reduce the energy loss, as
With the addition of a vice blade which is overlapped can be seen in Fig.1.
with main blade and hold a certain gap in the vicinity
of the leading edge of main blade, the flow in the
centrifugal pump is effectively controlled and there-
fore the performance is improved.
Since gap drainage impeller has been put forward,
the author and his collaborators have carried out a
series of research[1-7]. In terms of the design of gap
drainage impeller, the optimized design process of
vice blades are explored, as a preliminary. For the re-
search into mechanism, a scalable detached simulation
(SDES)[4] model was proposed and developed based
on the detached eddy simulation (DES)[8] method.
By numerical analysis based on SDES model and
flow visualization experiments[4], it was considered Fig.1 (Color online) Water velocity distributions[4]
that the leading edge deviating from original position
reduced the blade exclusion and the vice blades In addition, the separated flow would be sup-
overlapping partly with main blades increased the pressed at the leading edge as a result of guide flow
function of the vice blades of gap drainage impellers,
and high pressure fluid on the pressure surface passes
* Project supported by the National Natural Science through the gap into the suction surface which com-
Foundation of China (Grant No. 51379120). pensates pressure to low pressure zones to some
Biography: Hong-xun Chen (1962- ), Male, Ph. D., Professor extent. At the same time, the fluid ejected from the
gap produces a disturbance to the cavitation region,
which accelerates the cavity shedding and suppresses

the formation of large cavitation area to improve the gap drainage blade can be described in Figs.3(a), 3(b).
cavitation performance, as are illustrated in Fig.2.

Fig.2 (Color online) Water vapour volume[4]

Based on theoretical analysis, numerical simula-

tion and PIV flow field tests, the mechanism how gap
drainage impellers improve hydraulic performance
and cavitation performance of low specific speed
centrifugal pumps has been deeply studied. Further-
more, the measurement of pressure pulsation and
vibration was carried out at inlet, outlet and volute
zone of centrifugal pumps with gap impellers under
cavitation and non-cavitation conditions. It was found
that gap drainage blades also improve the dynamic
characteristics of centrifugal pumps in a certain range
of conditions.
Currently, gap drainage technology is mainly used
for cylindrical blades. In order to introduce gap drain-
Fig.3 (Color online) Geometric drawing process of the gap
age technology into practice widely, the twisted vice drainage impeller
blade should be studied based on the above physical
mechanism. The profile of the vice blade at leading (1) The total wrap angle 0 is determined by
edge and relative position of main blade need to be
parameterized, and the influence of these parameters number of blades Ζ and specific speed ns . The
on the performance of a centrifugal pump should be initial inlet location points (A1, B1, C1) of the blade, as
explored. The essence of spatial geometric expression well as the outlet location points (A2, B2, C2) are
for a traditional centrifugal impeller is to calculate obtained according to the hydraulic design method of
geometric parameters according to performance a traditional centrifugal impeller.
parameters, draw main streamlines to determine the (2) According to the design method of the tradi-
working surface of blade, and then obtain the whole tional impeller, three streamlines on meridional cross-
blade by thickening surface based on a certain law. section which is starting from A1, B1 and C1 are drawn,
Compared with a traditional impeller, a gap and flow surfaces A, B and C are formed by rotating
impeller has a short blade at the leading edge, which around the rotation axis.
partially overlap and hold a gap with main blade. The (3) Inlet angle (1a , 1b , 1c ) and outlet angle
vice blade usually can be designed and modified on
(2a , 2b , 2c ) are calculated and selected properly.
the basis of the traditional impeller. The gap impellers
have the same structure parameters as traditional According to a given change rule of blade angle, three
impellers, which means that they are identical in meri- smooth streamlines are fitted on the spatial flow
dional cross-section. The basic process of drawing the surface.

(4) The middle streamline is used as an example (10) The molded lines obtained by the above
to illustrate the drawing procedure of gap drainage method are fitted to the working surfaces of main and
blades. Based on the middle blade profile drawn in vice blade. According to the law of thickening blades,
Step 2, the positions that boundary layers are separa- the working surfaces are thickened to obtain the back
ted are inferred by experience. The truncation point surfaces of the main and vice blade.
B1G is determined preliminarily, and molded line Designing gap drainage blades need to determine
B1-B2 is divided into two segment (B1-B1G, B1G-B2). some additional parameters ( 1 , 2 ,  , gap ,
(5) The leading edge segment (B1-B1G) is re-
moved, and the position of the remaining part (B1G-B2) s ). Currently, these parameters are mainly deter-
remains unchanged. B1G-B2 is defined as the middle mined in accordance with the principle of reducing
molded line of main blade, and inlet angle 1b g of exclusion and suppressing flow separation, which are
determined by designer’s experience.
main blade are obtained. The wrap angle correspon- On the basis of the above, a centrifugal pump
ding to the middle molded line is defined as the wrap impeller with good performance is designed and
angle of main blade 2 . Generally, 2 should be manufactured as shown in Fig.3(c). And the hydraulic
less than 0 , which means main blade is slightly performance and cavitation performance tests are
carried out on the open loop test rig. The performance
shorter than entire blade designed according to tradi- curves in Fig.4 shows that the Q -  ( Q and 
tional method.
(6) The inlet location point (B1G) of main blade respectively represent the flow rate and efficiency)
along the streamline on meridional cross-section is curve of the gap pump is overall higher than the
moved to obtain the auxiliary point Bʹ. The movement traditional pump, which means all conditions have
been improved to some extent. The Q - H ( H is
distance (s) should be larger than thickness of the
the abbreviation of head) curves tend to be flat at
flow surface corresponding to this point. Then the
initial stages, and head of the gap pump is basically
point is rotated  around Ζ axis to determine the the same as the traditional one under low flow rate
outlet location point (B2G) on the middle streamline. conditions. As flow rate increases, the Q - H curve
The intersection angle ( ) between the meridional
of the gap pump moves up as a whole. That is to say,
planes, where B1G and B2G locate, is defined as the head of the gap pump is higher than the traditional one
overlapping degree between vice blade and main under other conditions except for low flow rate
blade that should be determined according to conditions. Furthermore, the gap pump’s power is
experience. To ensure the smooth flow, the outlet widely lower than the traditional one’s, and the
angle (  2b g ) of vice blade can be determined by difference decreases as flow rate increases.
referring the inlet angle ( 1b g ) of main blade. De-
pending on the actual situation, it could be made
appropriate adjustments.
(7) The wrap angle of vice blade is defined as 1 ,
and appropriate 1 is selected to re-determine the
inlet location point (B1) of the middle streamline and
determine the inlet angle (1b ) of vice blade. At this
time, the total wrap angle of vice blade and main
blade is defined as gap .
(8) According to the given law about drawing
blade profile described in Step 3, molded line B1-B2G
is drawn that be called the middle molded line of vice Fig.4 Performance curves of the two pumps
blade. At this point, the process of drawing the middle
molded line B1- B2G and B1G -B2 have been finished. Flow rate of the performance curves shown in
(9) Then, the procedure for segmenting of the Fig.4 is replaced by specific speed (denoted by ns ) as
initial blade, re-determining of the location points and the results shown in Fig.5. It is found that compared
reshaping the profile of vice blade is repeated. In with the traditional impeller, efficiency of the gap
accordance with the principle that molded lines should pump is improved under different specific speeds. And
be smoothly transited, the molded lines on front cover when ns is in the range from 35 to 70, the effect
(A1-A2G,, A1G-A2) and back cover (C1-C2G, C1G-C2)of
become more obvious.
the main and vice blade are drawn respectively.

Table 1 NPSH c values of two pumps at different flow

Traditional impeller Gap impeller
Flow rate
NPSH c /m NPSH c /m
Q1 = 26 m3 / h 0.90 0.89
Q2 = 37 m / h 1.15 1.06
Q3 = 48 m3 / h 2.15 1.78

In this paper, the design idea and method for the

spatial geometry of twisted gap drainage blade are put
forward, which develop the design method of gap
Fig.5 Specific speed-performance parameters curves drainage blade from 2-D to 3-D twisted blade and will
Figure 6 shows the cavitation performance curves achieve an advancement for introducing gap drainage
of the two pumps at three flow rates. It can be seen technology into practice. It is verified that the twisted
that regardless of gap impeller or traditional impeller, vice blades can improve the hydraulic performance
and cavitation performance of the centrifugal pumps.
with the net positive suction head available ( NPSH a ) The influence of the geometric parameters of gap
gradually reduced, the head curves are showing a drainage blade on the performance of centrifugal
trend from nearly straight to slow downward to steep pump is not entirely clear, but this work provides
downward under different flow rates. some new idea for the following research. It is
valuable to explore the mechanism how these geome-
tric parameters affect the hydraulic performance,
cavitation performance, pressure pulsation, vibration
and characteristic curves of centrifugal pump in future

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