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Model predictions and experimental results for the rotordynamic characteristics of leakage flows in centrifugal pumps

Texas A&M University
Publication Date
  • Design


The role played by fluid forces in determining the rotordynamic stability and characteristics of a centrifugal pump is gaining increasing attention. The present research investigates the contributions to the rotordynamic forces from the discharge-to-suction leakage flows between the front shroud of the rotating impeller and the stationary pump casing. An experiment was designed to measure the rotordynamic shroud forces due to simulated leakage flows for different parameters such as flowrate, shroud clearance, face seal clearance, and eccentricity. The functional dependence on the ratio of whirl frequency to rotating frequency (termed the whirl ratio) is very similar to that measured in experiments and similar to that predicted by the theoretical work of Childs [1]. Childs' bulk flow model yielded some unusual results including peaks in the rotordynamic forces at particular positive whirl ratios, a phenomenon which Childs tentatively described as a "resonance" of the leakage flow. This unexpected phenomenon developed at small positive whirl ratios when the inlet swirl velocity ratio exceeds about 0.5. Childs points out that a typical swirl velocity ratio at inlet (pump discharge) would be about 0.5 and may not, therefore, be large enough for the resonance to be manifest. To explore whether this effect occurs, an inlet guide vane was constructed which introduced a known amount of swirl into the flow upstream of the leakage flow inlet. A detailed comparison of model predictions with the present experimental program is presented. The experimental results showed no evidence of the "resonances," even at much larger swirl inlet velocities than explored by Childs.

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