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Nuclear Engineering and Design
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/nucengdes
The transient ﬂow in a centrifugal pump during the discharge valve rapid opening process
Wu Dazhuan ^{∗} , Wu Peng, Li Zhifeng, Wang Leqin
Institute of Process Equipment, Zhejiang University, 38 Zheda Road, Hangzhou 310027, PR China
article
info
Article history:
Received 6 May 2010 Received in revised form 29 July 2010 Accepted 16 August 2010
abstract
During the rapid opening period of the discharge valve in the pump system commonly used in nuclear reactor operation, the ﬂowrate of the pump increases impulsively. In this paper, we report on experiment and numerical simulations which were implemented to investigate the external transient hydrodynamic performance and the internal ﬂow mechanism of the pump during this transient process. External and internal characteristics under different ﬂowrates were measured with an experimental system. The simulation for steady conditions was based on detached eddy simulation (DES) and sliding mesh was veriﬁed by comparing the simulation with test results. More importantly, the transient characteristics during the valve’s rapid opening process were simulated using a similar method. Results show that the Q–H curve deviates from the steadystate value. The external characteristics are further explained by analyzing the relative velocity on the middle stream surfaces S _{1}_{m} and S _{2}_{m} between blades. The pump performance during the valve’s rapid opening process is inﬂuenced both by the ﬂuid acceleration and instantaneous evolutions of the vortex structure.
© 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Pumps play important roles in nuclear reactor coolant systems. Transient operations are commonly found, such as the pump’s starting and stopping, the ﬂowrate increasing and decreasing, and power failures in the centrifugal pump motors. The responses of the pump system in these operations show transient effects due to changes in the operating conditions. Boyd et al. (1961) performed a mathematical simulation for var ious transient conditions of coolant ﬂow and pump speeds in a multiloop nuclear reactor system. They studied the transient phe nomena due to power failure, starting pumps in idle loops, and the opening of an active pump’s discharge valve. They emphasized that one must consider all the components offering resistance change in the full primary coolant ﬂow. Rapid changes in ﬂowrate will lead to sudden changes in pres sure which propagate from the change point to the pipe system at the speed of sound in a liquid. This is called the water hammer phenomenon. In some pipeline systems, where a pump is used to lift liquid into a reservoir with a static head, the check valve down stream of the pump does not open until the static head is higher than the reservoir. Joseph and Hamill (1972) investigated the water hammer effects caused by valve openings in these operations.
^{∗} Corresponding author. Tel.: +86 139 89880802; fax: +86 571 87952406. Email address: wudazhuan@zju.edu.cn (D. Wu).
00295493/$ – see front matter © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.nucengdes.2010.08.024
For theoretical analysis, many researchers have used hybrid models to solve the water hammer problem. Among them, the method of characteristics line (MOC) is the most popular one in modeling the valveinduced water hammer equations, because of its feasibility and advantages for complex systems (Kaliatka et al., 2007; Werner et al., 2008). Wenxi et al. (2008) evaluated the valveinduced water hammer phenomena in a parallel pumps feed water system (PPFS) during the alternate startup process of parallel pumps. A code was developed to compute the transient phenom ena, including the pressure wave vibration, local ﬂow velocity, slamming of the check valve disc, etc. Most studies have focused on the water hammer in pipes when the valve is opening or closing, while the ﬂow status in pumps has been given little attention. In a valve’s opening process, the ﬂowrate increases from zero to maximum rapidly, so most of the time pumps operate under offdesign conditions. The ﬂow ﬁelds under offdesign conditions are inﬂuenced by complex separa tion and recirculation, thus making them highly turbulent and unsteady. Numerical calculations of performance for offdesign conditions are extremely difﬁcult using traditional steadystate methods, because of the need to control complex physical phe nomena such as the boundary layer separation, vortex dynamics, interactions between rotational and stationary components, vibra tions and noise, etc. (Felix et al., 2002; Rikke et al., 2003). There are many ways that cause the ﬂowrate increasing or decreasing. In this paper, rapid opening of the discharge valve is chosen as a way to achieve the process that ﬂowrate is increas
Please cite this article in press as: Wu, D., et al., The transient ﬂow in a centrifugal pump during the discharge valve rapid opening process. Nucl. Eng. Des. (2010), doi:10.1016/j.nucengdes.2010.08.024
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ing rapidly. During this period, the valve is opened within a few seconds, the ﬂow rate of the pump increases rapidly. Numerical and experimental results of external and internal characteristics show signiﬁcant transient effects, which differ from steadystate processes. These unsteady phenomena are not predictable with the conventional steadystate simulation approach. During recent years, with the expansion of centrifugal pump applications, studies on transient characteristics during startup period have received increased attention (Lefebvre and Barker, 1995; Kazem et al., 2007). Analysis methods for transient pro cesses can be understood for ﬂowrate changes caused by fast opening and closing valves. Wang et al. (2008) used the dynamic mesh method for 2D simulation of a centrifugal pump during the startup period, but this method requires considerable computa tional resources for the large deformation and update load of the mesh in rotational regions. Wu et al. (2009) developed a method to simulate the ﬂow ﬁeld during the startup period, based on the sliding mesh technique, in which interfaces were used to con nect the rotational impeller and the stationary components. And experiments were also carried out to verify the reliability of the simulation. Wu et al. (2010) also reported some experimental stud ies on hydrodynamic performance of a cavitating centrifugal pump during transient operation. In order to improve the accuracy of the numerical simula tions and better understand the ﬂow in the centrifugal pumps during transient processes, a numerical method for simulations at offdesign conditions is proposed and then the simulation is carried out. The method is validated by comparing with the exper imental results both from the aspects of external and internal characteristics. Based on the experimental and numerical results of steadystate performances, a simulation model of the unsteady state is built, and a similar simulation method is applied for the simulation of the valve’s rapid opening processes. Both the external and internal characteristics are analyzed. The results can be used as references for future studies and applications.
2. Numerical simulations at steady ﬂowrate
2.1. Model and parameter
The pump under investigation, shown in Fig. 1, is a shrouded centrifugal pump with a speciﬁc speed of n _{s} = 103 and hydraulic
Fig. 1. Geometry of the centrifugal pump.
efﬁciency of _{h} = 70%. The impeller has an outer diameter of d _{2} = 238 mm and four backswept blades. In order to measure the ﬂow ﬁeld by the particle image velocimetry (PIV) technique, the case is designed like a box with a diffuser. The diameter of inlet pipe is 200 mm and outlet is 156 mm. The pump is designed to rotate at n = 1475 rpm, operate at a ﬂowrate of Q _{d} = 332 m ^{3} /h and provide a pressure rise equivalent to a head of H _{d} = 7.1 m. The rated Reynolds number (Re = U _{2} D _{2} /v) based on the outer diameter of the impeller is 4.4 × 10 ^{6} .
2.2. CFD code
The ﬂow ﬁelds at offdesign conditions are highly turbulent and unsteady. Due to the complex separation and recirculation, numer ical simulations of the performances for offdesign conditions will be extremely difﬁcult. Therefore, a reliable turbulence model must be chosen to simulate the performances more accurately. Most of the numerical simulations for engineering applications
at high Reynolds numbers are performed using the Reynolds aver aged Navier–Stockes (RANS) turbulence models. Tutar and Hold (2001) and Benim et al. (2008) have pointed out, however, that the RANS model is not appropriate for computations of transient turbulent separated ﬂow. While the RANS models are appropriate for simulations of attached ﬂows, they fail to accurately capture the complex ﬂow structures in regimes substantially different from the thin shear and attached boundary layers. Thus, they are not suitable for calculating the ﬂow with separation and recirculation under offdesign conditions. Simulation strategies such as direct numerical simulation (DNS) and large eddy simulation (LES) are attractive as an alternative for predictions of ﬂow ﬁelds where RANS is deﬁcient. But they will carry a prohibitive computational cost for resolving boundary layer turbulence at high Reynolds numbers. The detached eddy simulation (DES) has been recently devel oped, and is one of the most widely used models for high speed turbulent ﬂows with massive separations. The DES model was developed to combine RANS in the attached boundary layers with LES in the shear layers and separated ﬂow regions (Spalart et al., 1997). It is a uniﬁed approach based on the adoption of a single turbulence model. It functions as a subgrid scale LES model in the separated ﬂow regions where the grid is nearly isotropic, and as
a RANS model in the attached boundary layer regions (Basu et al.,
2005). It retains the essential features of LES type method as well as employs a computationally cheaper RANS method in regions where
it is appropriate.
Please cite this article in press as: Wu, D., et al., The transient ﬂow in a centrifugal pump during the discharge valve rapid opening process. Nucl. Eng. Des. (2010), doi:10.1016/j.nucengdes.2010.08.024
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Applications of the DES models for a wide variety of prob lems involving separated ﬂow conﬁgurations have shown certain degrees of success relative to the RANS predictions. But DES mod els have not been so widely used in pumps, thus further trials are necessary for pump applications. RealizableDES is available in the software package FLUENT 6.3. The time dependent term scheme is 2ndorder implicit. The pressure–velocity coupling is calculated through the SIMPLEC algorithm. A secondorder upwind scheme with numerical under relaxation is applied for the discretization of convection term and central difference schemes for diffusion terms.
2.3. Computational domain and grid
The pump is divided into four parts: inlet, impeller, diffuser and case. Impeller is rotary and the other parts are stationary. The geometry of the centrifugal pump is discretized by unstructured tetrahedral meshes. In order to check the inﬂuence of different grids on the results, meshes with different quantities of elements are tested.
2.4. Boundary conditions at operating conditions
Simulations are carried out over a wide range of operating points, from shutoff to the maximum ﬂow rate. Walls are mod eled using the standard wall functions. Velocity in axial direction is speciﬁed as inlet boundary, while the average static pressure ﬁeld is deﬁned as the outlet boundary. The inlet and outlet boundary con ditions are placed far away from the impeller component in order to minimize the inﬂuence of the boundary conditions on the ﬂow ﬁeld. The ﬂow in the impeller is deﬁned as moving mesh zone, while the ﬂow in the inlet pipe, diffuser, and outlet pipe is calculated in the stationary reference frame. The connection between the rotary impeller and the stationary components is linked by interfaces. That means that the node of each side of the interface does not have to match while the meshes are moved. This method is called sliding mesh method which is commonly used for unsteady ﬂow ﬁeld sim ulation of pumps (Croba and Kueny, 1996; Gonzalez et al., 2002). Six different ﬂowrates with a rotational speed of 1475 rpm are simulated: 0, 70, 130, 186, 233, and 332 m ^{3} /h.
2.5. Numerical setup
In order to resolve the real temporal variation of the ﬂow, the timestep has been adjusted to t = 5 × 10 ^{−}^{4} s, which ensures a reasonable CFL number based on physical time less than 1.0. This timestep is equivalent to 80 timesteps per impeller revolution. The ﬂow ﬁelds at different ﬂowrates have been iterated for 2000 timesteps, respectively, equivalent to 24 revolutions. Simu lations have been parallelly performed on a Linux PC cluster of eight Intel Xeon processors (3.2 GHz) at institute of process equipment in Zhejiang University. An overview of mesh structure, boundary conditions, and numerical setup of the simulations is provided in Table 1.
3. Numerical simulations of valve rapid opening process
In practical applications, ﬂowrate may be increased impul sively from shutoff to maximum. In these operations, pumps operate under offdesign conditions. Based on the simulated method above, this special transient operation can be simulated using a similar method. To compare different phenomena between steady ﬂowrate and increasing ﬂowrate operations, all of the numerical setups are the
Table 1 Characteristics of the mesh structure, boundary conditions, and numerical setup of the steady ﬂow simulations.
Mesh structure 

Total number of cells Cells in inlet section Cells in impeller Cells in diffuser Cells in outlet section Cells in case section 
3,702,328 
2,334,914 
1,436,774 

395,116 
226,818 
118,694 

518,836 
329,344 
171,570 

319,287 
183,893 
97,985 

80,512 
43,266 
20,500 

2,388,577 
1,551,593 
1,028,025 

Boundary condition 

Velocity inlet (m/s) Pressure outlet (Pa) Wall 
0.619 1.149 
1.644 
2.060 
2.935 

0 0 
0 
0 
0 

Noslip 

Numerical setup 

Number of time steps Time step (s) Time steps per revolution CPU time per time step (min) Total computational time (h) 2000 5e−4 80 10 333 

4.5 
3.3 

150 
110 

Table 2 numerical setup of the unsteady ﬂow simulations. 

Numerical setup 
1 s 
0.5 s 
0.25 s 

Number of time steps Time step (s) Time steps per revolution CPU time per time step (min) Total computational time (h) 2400 5e−4 80 10 400 
1200 
600 

5e−4 
5e−4 

80 
80 

10 
10 

200 
100 
same except the inlet velocity, which is deﬁned by a UDF pro gram. During the period of increasing ﬂowrate in a centrifugal pump, the ﬂowrate increases rapidly from shutoff to its operat ing ﬂowrate and then remains at this ﬂowrate. Variations of the ﬂowrate under three different valve’s opening times are deﬁned by functions (1)–(3). The previously calculated result of ﬂow ﬁeld at shutoff condition is used as the initial ﬂow ﬁeld for unsteady ﬂow simulations.
Q(t) =
Q(t) =
Q(t) =
⎧
⎪
⎨
⎪
⎩
⎧
⎪
⎨
⎪
⎩
⎧
⎪
⎨
⎪
⎩
0 t < 0.07 s
233(t 
− 0.07) 
(m ^{3} /h) 
0.07 s ≤ t < 1.07 s 
(1) 

233 
t 
≥ 1.07 s 

0 
t < 0.07 s 

466(t 
− 0.07) 
(m ^{3} /h) 
0.07 s ≤ t < 0.57 s 
(2) 

233 
t ≥ 0.57 s 

0 
t < 0.07 s 

932(t 
− 0.07) 
(m ^{3} /h) 
0.07 s ≤ t < 0.32 s 
(3) 
233 t ≥ 0.32 s
An overview of the numerical setup is provided in Table 2.
4. Results and discussion
4.1. Comparison of external characteristics between steady
ﬂowrate simulations and experimental results
Six different operating conditions at a ﬂowrate of 0, 70, 130, 186, 233 and 332 m ^{3} /h are simulated under a rotational speed of 1475 rpm. Because the simulation method is unsteady, rotor–stator interaction phenomena between impeller and case can be captured (Gonzalez et al., 2002). One impeller revolution has 80 timesteps
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Fig. 2. Fluctuant curve of the instantaneous head.
Fig. 3. General view of the pump.
Fig. 4. Comparison between experimental result and simulated results with differ ent grid quantity.
Fig. 5. Internal ﬂow comparison between simulation and PIV test.
Fig. 6. Comparison between steady and unsteady ﬂowrate simulation.
Fig. 7. Total head comparison between steady and unsteady ﬂowrate simulation.
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and the impeller has four vanes, so the period of head oscilla tions caused by rotor–stator interaction is about 20 timesteps. Take the curve of Q = 233 m ^{3} /h in Fig. 2 as an example. There are four obvious peaks which are nearly 14 m, and the timesteps are 126, 150, 173 and 190. So the period of the curve oscillation is nearly 20 time steps, it is equal to the rotor–stator interaction period. Beside, the amplitude of the instantaneous head grad ually increases as the ﬂowrate increases. This is because ﬂuid discharged from diffuser includes two parts: ﬂuid circularly ﬂow ing in diffuser and that discharged from impeller. The former ﬂow is steady and the latter ﬂuctuates, which causes a ﬂuctuant head. As the ﬂowrate is decreased, ﬂuid which ﬂows from impeller to diffuser is also decreased. Accordingly, the ﬂuctuation of head is decreased. In order to compare with experimental results, the instanta neous head was averaged in a rotational period of impeller, which
is called available head. Steady performance of the pump was tested in a test rig, and the case part is shown in Fig. 3. The accuracy of the ﬂow rate and pressure sensor is 0.5%. Fig. 4 shows simulated results of three different grid quantities and the corresponding experimental results. Through comparison, one concludes that a grid quantity of 3.7 × 10 ^{6} can accurately simulate the external char acteristics. As shown in Fig. 4, the maximum error comparing between sim ulated and experimental results is about 7% at shutoff condition. This is because the ﬂow ﬁeld at shutoff condition is so complex that some vortices cannot be captured accurately. As the ﬂowrate increases, simulated results are well in agreement with experimen tal results. At the ﬂow rate of 70 m ^{3} /h, the error is 3%. The steady state simulation is only used for method validation, such accu racy is enough for unsteady ﬂow rate simulation and engineering applications.
Fig. 8. Velocity vector graphs at unsteady condition of different ﬂowrate.
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4.2. Internal ﬂow comparison of steady ﬂowrate between
simulations and experiments
The velocity vector graph on crosssection of the pump shown in Fig. 3 is caught by a 2D PIV device. The comparison between simula tions and PIV experimental results at shutoff condition is shown in Fig. 5. The maximum velocity in simulation is about 3 m/s, while at the same position of the measured velocity is 2 m/s. An anticlock wise vortex exists above the diffuser in the two graphs, because at shutoff condition the ﬂuid is blocked off by valves and cannot discharge out. It continues to circulate in the pump. Comparing with the ﬂow structure of simulated results shown in Fig. 5, ﬂow captured by the PIV method is a little ﬂat. This is because bubbles produced in the pump at startup affect the PIV results. In addition, the simulated model has its own error. So the PIV result can only be a qualitative comparison. By comparing the internal and external characteristics of the pump between experiment and simulation, this simulation method can be used for pump simulation from shutoff to maximum ﬂow rate.
4.3. External characteristic simulation result of valve rapid
opening process
The method mentioned above can accurately calculate the external characteristics and internal ﬂow at conditions from shut off to maximum ﬂowrate. Based on this method, unsteady ﬂow is simulated with the shutoff condition as the initial ﬂow ﬁeld. Similarly, instantaneous head is also averaged to obtain the available head. Simulated results of steady state and increased ﬂowrate with different valve opening times are shown in Fig. 6. The unsteady Q–H curve lies under the steady Q–H curve. With increases in ﬂowrate, the velocity of the ﬂuid in pipes increases, and part of the energy exported by the pump is used to provide ﬂuid acceleration. Thus, the faster the valve opens, the greater the head loss. With increases in ﬂowrate, the transient head curve approaches the steadystate curve gradually. This phenomenon agrees well with the experimental results of Wang et al. (2003). With increases in ﬂowrate, velocity of the ﬂuid in pipes increases, part of the energy exported by the pump is used to provide ﬂuid acceleration, so at the same ﬂowrate unsteady ﬂow process has a smaller head. This is because the ﬂowrate increases to the design operating point, the ﬂow separation phenomenon in the impeller lessens, causing the transient curves to move closer to the steady state curve. In order to analyze the transient effect in the process of ﬂow rate increases, it is necessary to differentiate the total head of the pump H(t) from the indicated total head between the suction port and the discharge of the pump H _{i} (t). The total head is affected by the acceleration of the water contained in the pump casing. So the true total head rise H(t) is obtained by subtracting the apparent static head H _{c} (t) due to the acceleration from the indicated total head H _{i} (t), as the following equation shows (Tsukamoto and Ohashi,
1982):
H(t) = H _{i} (t) − H _{c} (t) = H _{i} (t) +
L
eq
^{} dQ _{i} (t) dt
gA
0
(4)
where the pump is represented by a straight pipe with cross sec tional area A _{0} and length L _{e}_{q} . The equivalent pipe L _{e}_{q} of the pump is calculated by the equation:
L eq =
s=0
L
A
_{A}_{(}_{s}_{)} ds
0
(5)
where s is the distance measured from the suction port, and L is the total path length.
In the present paper, as shown in Fig. 1, the passage area of the pump does not change so signiﬁcantly, so the average of the area is taken as the passage area A(s), and length of the middle stream line is taken as L _{e}_{q} . Following Eq. (4), the total head of the pumps can be calculated. As shown in Fig. 7, at low ﬂowrate, the head of 1 s opening time is the lowest and is highest at 0.25 s, with 0.5 s being intermediate. Meanwhile, at high ﬂowrates, the three differ ent opening ways are nearly the same. To explain this phenomenon, the internal ﬂow of the pump must be analyzed.
4.4. Internal ﬂow simulation result of valve rapid opening process
To analyze the transient evolution of the ﬂow ﬁeld during the process of variable ﬂowrates, simulated results of ﬂowrate at 1.163, 82.44, 164.14 and 251.72 m ^{3} /h were undertaken. Compar ison between different ﬂowrates of velocity vector graphs on crosssection near the diffuser is shown in Fig. 8. As can be seen from the graphs, largescale vortices exist in impeller and diffuser at
Fig. 9. Relative velocity evolutions of different conditions on the middle stream surfaces S _{1}_{m} .
Please cite this article in press as: Wu, D., et al., The transient ﬂow in a centrifugal pump during the discharge valve rapid opening process. Nucl. Eng. Des. (2010), doi:10.1016/j.nucengdes.2010.08.024
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Fig. 10. Relative velocity evolutions of different conditions on the middle stream surfaces S _{2}_{m} .
low ﬂowrate. As the ﬂowrate increases gradually, more compact vortices are generated in the ﬂow passage of the impeller, while vortices in the case are smaller, ﬂuid ﬂowing to the outlet more intensively. The main reason is that at offdesign conditions, due to the liquid viscosity, ﬂow separation occurs on the blade surface, and thus vortices are generated. As the ﬂowrate increases, ﬂow sepa ration on the blade surface decreases, and vortices in the impeller are also decreased. Fig. 9 shows the relative velocity evolutions of different open ing times at ﬂowrate of 100 m ^{3} /h (left) and 233 m ^{3} /h (right) on the middle stream surfaces S _{1}_{m} in the impeller. As can be seen from the graphs, when the valve is opened in 0.25 s, at a ﬂow rate of 100 m ^{3} /h, vortices on the middle stream surfaces S _{1}_{m} are small and compact; when valve is opened in some vortices develop at the trailing edge of the suction face; when valve is opened in large vortices can be observed on the pressure face. At the ﬂow rate of 233 m ^{3} /h, there is almost no difference on the middle stream surfaces S _{1}_{m} , and the internal ﬂow is very smooth along the blades. Fig. 10 shows the relative velocity evolutions of different open ing times at a ﬂowrate of 100 m ^{3} /h and 233 m ^{3} /h on the middle stream surfaces S _{2}_{m} in the impeller. As the opening time increases, the structure of the vortices becomes more complex at a ﬂowrate of 100 m ^{3} /h, while the internal ﬂow is very smooth along the blades at a ﬂow rate of 233 m ^{3} /h. As was stated above, the internal ﬂow shown in Figs. 9 and 10 agrees with Q–H curve shown in Fig. 7 on the whole. Pump per formances in valve opening processes are both inﬂuenced by the acceleration of the ﬂuid and transits effect of ﬂow revolution.
5. Conclusion
Based on the experimental and simulated results of internal and external characteristics at steady operation from shutoff condition to design condition, DES and silding mesh were used to explore the transient characteristic of the process when valve was rapidly opened. The results show that:
(1) Simulated results of steady operation using DES model agree well with the experimental results, and the phenomenon of head ﬂuctuation caused by the impeller–volute interation is well predicted. The results indicate that the proposed method is capable of solving complex ﬂow in the centrifugal pump under offdesign conditions. (2) The Q–H curve of valve opening process lies under the steady Q–H curve, which reﬂects the acceleration effect when the ﬂow rate is increasing. (3) Besides the acceleration effect, a transits effect of the vortics revolution is also a main factor which inﬂuences the perfor mance of the pump.
In this context, ﬂowrate variations are deﬁned as linear func tions and outlet pressure is set to constant, which is different from the actual situation. the pipelines and pump should be cou pled together for further study so that the boundary conditions of ﬂowrate and pressure better approximate the actual situation. The contents and conclusions of the current work can provide ref erences for the performance prediction, design optimization and ﬂuid control of the pump used in the transient process of valve rapid opening.
Acknowledgement
This study was performed as part of National Natural Science Foundation of China, the project numbers are 50776077, 50979095 and 50906074. This support is gratefully acknowledged.
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Please cite this article in press as: Wu, D., et al., The transient ﬂow in a centrifugal pump during the discharge valve rapid opening process. Nucl. Eng. Des. (2010), doi:10.1016/j.nucengdes.2010.08.024
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