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Original Article

Proc IMechE Part A:


J Power and Energy
Direct and inverse iterative design 0(0) 1–12
! IMechE 2012
method for centrifugal pump impellers Reprints and permissions:
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DOI: 10.1177/0957650912451411
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Lei Tan1, Shuliang Cao2, Yuming Wang1 and Baoshan Zhu2

Abstract
A combined direct and inverse iterative design method was developed for the hydraulic design of centrifugal pump
impellers. This method is based on the fluid continuity and motion equations and solves for the meridional velocity taking
into account the effects of the blade shape on the flow. The blade shape is drawn by point-by-point integration with blade
thickening and smoothing using conformal mapping. Two examples designed using the direct and inverse iterative design
method are compared to results using the traditional design method with significantly different meridional velocity
distributions and three-dimensional blade shapes. Numerical simulations and tests show that the highest pump efficiency
is 2.2% higher with this design method than with the traditional design method. The numerical results agree well with the
experiments with a smoother flow pattern than with the traditional design, especially in the volute.

Keywords
Centrifugal pump, direct and inverse iterative, design method, experiment, numerical simulation

Date received: 10 November 2011; accepted: 24 April 2012

Introduction impeller performance. Computational fluid dynamics


With respect to other pump typologies, centrifugal (CFD) is used to give a thorough understanding of
pumps are the most widely used pumps due to their the flow phenomenon in many centrifugal pump
simple structure and convenient installation. More design methods.7–9
importantly, they have great energy-saving potential
considering the large amounts of energy consumed by
Hydraulic design method
the pumps. One of the most efficient ways to save
energy for centrifugal pump is to improve the centrifu- The major steps in the hydraulic design of centrifugal
gal pump hydraulic performance by optimizing the pump impellers are: (a) determining the general design
design method. The purpose of the hydraulic design is parameters based on the requirements; (b) determining
to determine the shape and dimension of the flow pas- the meridional channel shape; (c) calculating the merid-
sage components, with good performance only when ional velocity; (d) drawing the blade bone line shape; (e)
the flow passage component shapes accurately match thickening and smoothing the blade and (f) calculating
the actual flow patterns. Therefore, the hydraulic the wooden pattern.
design directly affects the efficiency and operation sta- The meridional channel shape is determined by com-
bility of the centrifugal pumps. paring to similar high performance pumps with the
In recent years, a number of scholars have presented
new design methods for centrifugal pumps. Wang1 and 1
State Key Laboratory of Tribology, Tsinghua University, China
Lu et al.2 proposed a design method based on the S2 2
State Key Laboratory of Hydroscience and Engineering, Tsinghua
stream surface. Goto et al.3 and Asuaje et al.4 presented University, China
a design method for centrifugal pumps including
Corresponding author:
design, mesh generation and numerical simulation Lei Tan, State Key Laboratory of Tribology, Tsinghua University, Beijing
steps. Bonaiuti et al.5,6 analysed the influence of various 100084, China.
parameters, especially the blade loading, on the Email: tanlei@mail.tsinghua.edu.cn

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2 Proc IMechE Part A: J Power and Energy 0(0)

curves smooth and fluent to guarantee good flow


pattern.
The traditional design method in which the merid-
ional velocity is obtained by solving the fluid continuity
equation based on one-dimensional (1D) or 2D
assumptions, is not optimal since it does not satisfy
the fluid motion equation and does not take the blade
shape effects on the flow into consideration. The
streamline curvature method is used to calculate the
meridional velocity along the quasi-orthogonal curve
in the traditional design method. The meridional vel-
ocity gradient equation along quasi-orthogonal lines is

dV1
¼ PðsÞV1 ð1Þ
ds
Figure 1. Orthogonal curvilinear coordinate system and
   
d @ 1 sin  @ ln  quasi-orthogonal line.
PðsÞ ¼ sin    þ sin 
ds @l cos  r @l
ð2Þ the S1 stream surface is solved using the finite element
method.10 The meridional velocity gradient equation of
where V1 is the meridional velocity, s the quasi-ortho- the S2 stream surface based on the quasi-orthogonal
gonal line, l the meridional streamline,  the angle lines shown in Figure 1 is
between the meridional streamline and vertical,  the
angle between the meridional streamline and direction dV1 C
¼ AV1 þ B þ ð5Þ
normal to the quasi-orthogonal curve, as shown in ds V1
Figure 1,  the blockage factor and r the calculation
point radius. The parameters A, B and C in the blade zone are
The general solution of equation (1) is   
Rs 1 1 @ sin 1 d
A¼  2  þ þ
V1 ðsÞ ¼ V1c  e sc
PðsÞds
ð3Þ @  @l r cos ds
1þ r
@l
   
d @ 1 @ d @
where V1c is the meridional velocity at the impeller hub  sin þ r2 þ 1 þ r2 sin
and sc the quasi-orthogonal curve length at the impeller ds @l cos @l ds @l
   
hub. The integration constant can be obtained from the d @ 2 @ @ d 2 @
þ r  r
continuity equation ds @l @l @l ds @l
ð6Þ
Q
V1c ¼ R Rs ð4Þ  
sb
2r  e sc
PðsÞds
cos   ds 2!r d @
sc B¼  2 sin   cosð  Þ ð7Þ
@ ds @l
1þ r
@l
where Q is the flow rate and sb the quasi-orthogonal
curve length at the impeller shroud. Equation (1) is
1 dEr
solved based on the principle that the volume flow C¼  2 ð8Þ
rates in each sub-flow channel are identical to calculate @ ds
1þ r
the meridional velocity. @l
This method is superior to the traditional design
method by calculating the meridional velocity using where Er is the mechanical energy per unit mass. The
both the fluid continuity and motion equations and parameters A, B and C in the non-blade zone are
taking the effects of blade shape on the flow into con-  
sideration. Thus, the direct and inverse iterative design 1 @ d sin 
A¼  sin   sin  ð9Þ
method possesses a stronger theoretical foundation. cos  @l ds r
The meridional velocity is calculated in the direct
and inverse iterative design method from two stream B¼0 ð10Þ
surfaces. The velocity potential function equation of

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Tan et al. 3

Figure 2. Process of the direct and inverse iteration design method.

r2 ! þ rV3 dðrV3 Þ dEr where ’ is the wrap angle, e the blade angle and l0 the
C¼ þ ð11Þ total meridional streamline length. The blade angle dis-
r2 ds ds
tribution can be expressed by the quadratic function
where ! is the impeller angular velocity,  the calcula-
tion point circle angle and V3 the circumferential com-  e ¼ ae l 2 þ be l þ c e ð13Þ
ponent of the velocity.
With the given blade angle distribution along the where ae, be and ce are coefficients. The coefficients be
streamline, the blade bone line shape can be determined and ce can be found from the given e1 for the blade
by integrating the blade differential equation point- leading edge at l ¼ 0 and e2 for the blade trailing edge
by-point as at l ¼ l0. Then, the blade angle distribution can be writ-
ten as
Z l0
1
’¼ dl ð12Þ e ¼ e1 þ l ðe2  e1 Þ=lo þ ae l ðl  lo Þ ð14Þ
0 tan e  r

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4 Proc IMechE Part A: J Power and Energy 0(0)

Figure 3. Schematic diagram of centrifugal pump performance test apparatus: 1. inlet valve; 2. vacuum gauge; 3. centrifugal pump;
4. torque meter; 5. motor; 6. pressure gauge; 7. flow meter; and 8. outlet valve.

Table 1. Design parameters for pumps A1 and


A2.

Flow rate, Qd (m3/h) 25


Head, H (m) 7
Rotational speed, n (r/min) 1450
Number of blade, Z 7
Impeller diameter, D2 (mm) 160
Blade width at exit, b2 (mm) 11

Therefore, the only unknown in the quadratic function


for the blade angle distribution is the parameter ae,
which can be given and optimized by the designer.
The conformal mapping method is used to thicken
and smooth the blade. The conformal mapping method
converts the meridional streamline from the stream sur-
Figure 4. Meridional velocity distributions of the traditional
face to a cylindrical surface using
design method.
xc ¼ R0  ’ ð15Þ
Figure 2 shows the procedure for the direct and
Z l0
R0 inverse iterative design method. The major steps are:
yc ¼ dl ð16Þ
0 r
(a) an initial impeller is designed using the traditional
where xc and yc are the horizontal and vertical coord- design method;
inates of the cylindrical surface and R0 the radius at the (b) the meridional velocity is calculated by iterations of
blade leading edge. two stream surfaces, which satisfies the fluid

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Tan et al. 5

Figure 5. Meridional velocity distributions from the direct and Figure 6. Final meridional velocity distribution from the direct
inverse iterative design method for the two stream surfaces for and inverse iterative design method.
the initial impeller.

Figure 7. Impeller models for pumps (a) A1 and (b) A2.

continuity and motion equations and takes into The result gives the coordinate data for the 3D
account the effects of the blade shape on the flow; model to complete the hydraulic design of the centrifu-
(c) the velocities determined by the direct calculation gal pump impeller.
are used in the inverse design using point-by-point
integration to draw the blade shape with the con-
Numerical and experimental verification
formal mapping method to thicken and smooth the
blade; and The reliability of the design results was evaluated using
(d) once the updated impeller is designed, direct calcu- numerical 3D turbulent flow simulations with actual
lations are again used to obtain the meridional tests of the hydraulic performance.
velocity.
Numerical simulations
Steps (c) and (d) are repeated until the blade shape The commercial CFD code Fluent was used to solve the
change between two iterations falls below the designed incompressible continuity equation and Reynolds time
tolerance. The present impeller designs used a tolerance averaged Navier–Stokes equation to simulate the flow
of 0.0001. through the pump passage, with the renormalization

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Figure 8. Computational grids for pump A2: (a) volute and (b) impeller.

Figure 9. Pressure coefficient distributions on the blade surfaces of pump A2: (a) Q ¼ 0.6Qd; (b) Q ¼ Qd; and (c) Q ¼ 1.3Qd.

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Tan et al. 7

Figure 10. Pressure coefficient distributions in pump A2: (a) Q ¼ 0.6Qd and (b) Q ¼ Qd; and (c) Q ¼ 1.3Qd.

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Figure 11. Relative velocities between the blade of pump A2: (a) Q ¼ 0.6Qd; (b) Q ¼ Qd; and (c) Q ¼ 1.3Qd.

Figure 12. Hydraulic performance of pump A2.

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Tan et al. 9

group k–" turbulence model.11 The governing equa- difference scheme used to discretize the other terms.
tions above were solved using the SIMPLEC algorithm. The boundary conditions were: (a) constant flow vel-
The second order upwind scheme was used to discretize ocity at the inlet; (b) constant pressure at the outlet and
the convective term with the second order central (c) no-slip conditions along the impeller blades, side-
walls, volute casing and the inlet and outlet pipe
walls. The rotating impeller domain was coupled to
the stationary volute domain using the multiple rotat-
Table 2. Design parameters for pumps B1 and B2.
ing reference frame method.
Flow rate, Qd (m3/h) 220 The pressure coefficient Cp was defined as
Head, H (m) 32
p
Rotational speed, n (r/min) 1480 Cp ¼ ð17Þ
Number of blade, Z 6
0:5U22
Impeller diameter, D2 (mm) 322
Blade width at exit, b2 (mm) 22
where p denotes the pressure,  the density and U2 the
peripheral velocity.

Figure 13. Impeller models for pumps (a) B1 and (b) B2.

Figure 14. Predicted and measured hydraulic performance characteristics for pumps (a) B1 and (b) B2.

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Figure 15. Relative velocity distributions in the impeller for pumps (a) B1 and (b) B2.

Experimental system Pumps A1 and A2


The hydraulic performance was measured using the Pump A1 was designed using the traditional design
setup shown in Figure 3. The system consisted of a method while pump A2 was designed using the direct
water supply section (parts 1–2), pump section (parts and inverse iterative design method for the same design
3–5) and an exhaust section (parts 6–8). parameters given in Table 1.
The centrifugal pump head, H, was calculated as Figure 4 shows the meridional velocity distributions
given by the traditional design method, where K ¼ 1
po  pi V2o  V2i denotes the streamline at the impeller hub and K ¼ 14
H ¼ Zo  Zi þ þ ð18Þ denotes the streamline at the impeller shroud. Figure 5
g 2g
shows the meridional velocity distributions given by the
where Zo  Zi is the height difference between the pres- direct and inverse iterative design method after the two
sure gauge (part 6) and vacuum gauge (part 2) and pi, stream surfaces iteration converged for the initial
po, Vi and Vo denote the pressures and velocities at the impeller designed by the traditional method. Figure 6
pump inlet and outlet, respectively. shows the meridional velocities given by the direct and
The centrifugal pump shaft power, PW, was calcu- inverse iterative design method. The meridional vel-
lated as ocity distributions given by the two design methods
are quite different, especially in the blade zones. The
2nM meridional velocity distributions along each streamline
PW ¼ ð19Þ
60 for the direct and inverse iterative design method are
not the same due to the 3D flow in the impeller.
where M is the centrifugal pump torque. Figure 7 shows the two impeller models given by the
The centrifugal pump efficiency, , was defined as two design methods. The blade twist of the direct and
inverse design model is more serious than that of the
gQH traditional design to better match the meridional vel-
¼ ð20Þ
PW ocity distribution.
Figure 8 shows the computation grid for pump A2
As uncertainty analysis of this test apparatus gave the used for the numerical simulation. The grid had
error in the performance measurement of 0.35%. 1,020,000 elements, with yþ between 30 and 300.
Figure 9 shows the pressure coefficient distribution on
the blade surface for three flow rates. The pressure
Validation cases
gradually increases from the impeller inlet to the
The hydraulic performance of the direct and inverse outlet. The pressure on the blade pressure side (PS) is
iterative design method for centrifugal pumps was eval- greater than on the suction side (SS) at the same radial
uated for two cases. position. In addition, the impact of the flow on the

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Tan et al. 11

Figure 16. Relative velocity distributions in the volute for pumps (a) B1 and (b) B2.

surface causes a small low pressure zone on the SS at as with pumps A1 and A2. The numerical models
the blade leading edge for all three flow rates. Figure 10 had 1,350,000 elements. The predicted hydraulic per-
shows the pressure coefficient distribution inside the formances of the centrifugal pumps are compared
centrifugal pump. The pressure gradually increases with the test data in Figure 14. The optimum efficiency
from the pump entrance to the outlet, and is not even of pump B1 was 75.2% for Q ¼ 225.7 m3/h and
between the blades due to the asymmetrical volute geo- H ¼ 30.5 m and for pump B2 was 77.4% for
metric structure and the interaction between the impel- Q ¼ 225.8 m3/h and H ¼ 31.5 m. Thus, the efficiency of
ler and volute. The flow rate has a great impact on the pump B2 was 2.2% higher than the highest efficiency of
pressure distribution with the best distribution at the pump B1. The simulation results are in good agreement
design flow rate. Figure 11 shows the relative velocity with the experimental data with a maximum difference
between the blades. The relative velocity gradient is of less than 5%.
high near the blade surface. The relative velocity Figure 15 shows the relative velocity distributions in
streamlines in the channel middle are similar to the the impeller of pumps B1 and B2. The relative velocities
blade bone line and the relative velocity is uniform in the impeller of pump B2 are more uniform than in
without flow separation for the design flow rate. B1, especially at the impeller exit. Figure 16 shows the
Thus, the blade designed by the direct and inverse itera- relative velocity distributions in pumps B1 and B2 in
tive design method better controls the flow and is more the volute, where the fluid velocity gradually decreases
suitable for the 3D flow. along the flow direction as the kinetic energy changes
Figure 12 shows the hydraulic performance curves, into pressure energy. A vortex develops at the volute
with the head, H, efficiency, , shaft power PW in throat in pump B1, whereas the flow in this area in
function of the flow rate, Q. At the optimum pump pump B2 is very smooth. This shows that the hydraulic
working condition, the highest efficiency was 74.8% performance of the impeller designed by the direct and
for Q ¼ 22.6 m3/h and H ¼ 7.1 m. The high efficiency inverse iterative design method is better than that of the
region is wide near the pump design point and the cen- traditional design method for the same design
trifugal pump is stable over the entire operating range. parameters.
The head flow curve smoothly decreases.
Conclusions
Pumps B1 and B2 A direct and inverse iterative design method was devel-
Pump B1 was designed using the traditional design oped for centrifugal pump impellers based on the fluid
method while pump B2 was designed using the direct continuity and motion equations taking into account
and inverse iterative design method for the same design the influence of the blade shape on the flow. Two
parameters given in Table 2. designs were evaluated numerically and in tests to val-
Figure 13 shows the two impeller models given idate the hydraulic performance by the direct and
by the two methods with the blade shapes different inverse iterative design method. The blade twist in the

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12 Proc IMechE Part A: J Power and Energy 0(0)

direct and inverse iterative design is more serious than 4. Asuaje M, Bakir F, Kouidri S, et al. Computer-aided
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design and optimization techniques for the multiobjec-
method are better than in the pumps designed by the
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traditional design method, especially in the volute. The ASME J Turbomach 2009; 131: 021014.
experimental results also verify that the pumps designed 6. Bonaiuti D, Zangeneh M, Aartojarvi R, et al. Parametric
by the direct and inverse iterative design method have design of a waterjet pump by means of inverse design,
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combined approach of inverse design and CFD analysis.
Funding ASME J Fluids Eng 2005; 127: 330–338.
8. Tan L, Cao SL and Gui SB. Hydraulic design and pre-
This work was supported by the National Natural
whirl regulation law of inlet guide vane for centrifugal
Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 51176088 and
pump. Sci China Technol Sci 2010; 53(8): 2142–2151.
51179090), National Basic Research Program of China
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(grant no. 2009CB724304) and Open Research Fund
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