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In this training module, you will learn to do the following: Identify characteristics of centrifugal pumps. Discriminate between positive and non-positive displacement pumps. Identify 7 main components of centrifugal pumps. Define the relationship between the components of centrifugal pumps.

Identify centrifugal pumps used by Schlumberger. Calculate maximum head and discharge pressure. Define HHP, BHP, and pump efficiency. Identify factors that increase NPSH-A and reduce NPSH-R. Read performance curves. Discriminate between parallel and series operations.

Introduction to Centrifugal Pumps

Imagine whirling a bucket full of water around your head. The water stays in the bucket as long as you keep the bucket turning. The same force that keeps the water in the bucket is the force at work in centrifugal pumps.

Now imagine the bucket has a hole in the bottom. The water will squirt out of the hole as you whirl the bucket. With a centrifugal pump impeller rotating in water, the water will fly out from between the blades just as it will squirt out of the whirling bucket. The force that causes the water to leave the impeller (or bucket) is centrifugal force, which is where centrifugal pumps get their name.

Throughout this module the terms centrifugal pump and C-pump are used interchangeably. Also, the term centrifugals is used as a general reference for centrifugal pumps. Schlumberger pumps are sometimes referenced either RA 4x5 or RA45, RA 5x6 or RA56, and RA 10x12 or RA02 (only the second digit in two-digit numbers is used). The first number indicates the diameter of the discharge port in inches, and the second number indicates the diameter of the suction port in inches.

Here is a centrifugal pump. To rotate the object and view it from different angles, click on the image and hold your left mouse button down as you drag your cursor across the object.

Principles of Centrifugal Pumps

The following section will address basic operating principles and the classification of centrifugal pumps.


Centrifugal Pump Basics

A centrifugal pump employs a centrifugal force to develop a pressure change to move a liquid. When the pump is full of fluid and the impeller begins rotating, the fluiid follows the impeller blades. As the impeller speed increases, the centrifugal force throws the fluid toward the outer edge of the impeller blade. The faster the impeller rotates, the faster the fluid moves outward and the greater the flow rate. By putting the impeller in a casing, it is possible to guide the direction of the liquid towards a controlled destination. The result is a workable pump for imparting energy to a liquid at one point to cause it to move to another.

For a centrifugal pump to move fluid, it first must be full of fluid. The centrifugal pump will not prime itself. The clearances between the impeller and the wear plates will let air, not liquids, slip through the gap. As the impeller rotates, air will pass between the impeller and the wear plates if the pump is not full of liquid. Thus, if the pump contains air, nothing will be pumped.


Pump Classifications

Pumps convert mechanical energy from an engine or electric motor into hydraulic energy (hydraulic horsepower) by pushing fluid into the system. A pump is a device that transforms mechanical energy into pressure or kinetic (motion) energies. As a result, pumps are classified by how the energy is transferred to the fluid. The two main families of pumps are positive displacement pumps non-positive displacement pumps


Positive Displacement Pumps

Positive displacement pumps have a positive seal between the inlet and outlet ports, so that whatever gets into the pump is forced out the outlet port. Positive displacement pumps add energy by increasing the pressure on the fluid in the pump.

A positive displacement pump delivers a specific amount of fluid per stroke, revolution, or cycle to the system. Pump output is constant regardless of pressure, with the exception of changes in efficiency.

The three best known positive displacement pumps are gear pumps, vane pumps, and piston pumps.


Non-Positive Displacement Pumps

Non-positive displacement pumps do not have a positive seal between the inlet and outlet ports. Therefore, pressure capabilities are a function of drive speed. Although it provides a smooth, continuous flow, the output from this type of pump is reduced as resistance is increased. In fact, it is possible to completely block off the outlet while the pump is running. For this and other reasons, non-positive displacement pumps are seldom used in power hydraulic systems today. Non-positive displacement pumps, such as centrifugal pumps (C-pumps), are mainly used for fluid transfer in systems where the only resistance is created by the weight of the fluid and by friction. If the outlet port is blocked off, the impellers may continue to rotate due to the lack of a positive seal. Non-positive displacement pumps add energy by increasing the speed of the fluid inside the pump.

Components of Centrifugal Pumps

Here are seven main components of a centrifugal pump: 1. casing or volute 2. impeller & wear plates 3. shaft 4. bearings 5. bearing frame & stuffing box 6. seals or packing 7. power source


Casing or Volute

The centrifugal pump casing is the housing, or volute, that surrounds the impeller and the frame that contains the bearings for supporting the shaft where the impeller mounts. The volute converts the velocity energy into pressure and also gives the fluid direction. The casing design depends on maximum output rates and pressures sense of pump rotation or the intended rotation direction

In some pumps, the volute can be used for both clockwise (CW) and counterclockwise (CCW) rotation as in the RA45, RA56, and the RB23. The rotation sense can be determined by watching the pump from the driving end of the shaft. The volute and frame are generally made from cast iron. Therefore, they should never be welded or brazed because the heat will cause the volute to become distorted, warped, or cracked. This table can serve as a general guideline for casings and their relationship with flow rate and pressure. Casing Large Flow Rate High Pressure Low






The impeller is the rotating element in a centrifugal pump through which liquid passes. Energy is imparted to the liquid in the impeller. Three types of impellers include open semi-open closed

Open impellers have vanes attached to a central hub with relatively small shrouds or no shrouds (or walls).

Semi-open impellers have a shroud (or wall) on one side only.

Closed impellers have shrouds on both sides to enclose liquid passages. Impellers Open Closed Fluids Dirty^ Clean^ Flow Rates High Low Discharge Pressure Low High Examples~ RA 4X5, RA 5X6 RB 2X3, Guinard

^Dirty fluids = cement slurries; clean fluids = water. ~The A in RA pumps = open and the B in RB pumps = closed impellers.

This table displays examples of impellers with their related flow rates and pressures. The impeller rotation (either clockwise or counterclockwise) is always determined by the rotation of the shaft looking at the input or driven end of the shaft. The direction of rotation may be changed by reversing the volute installing the opposite impeller switching the hydraulic lines to the motor


Wear Plates

Wear plates provide a wear surface and a seal between the casing and the impeller. The wear plates are located on either side of the impeller, and are generally either solid steel plates or steel plates covered with rubber.

For non-abrasive pumping services, the all-steel wear plates are generally the best choice because they seldom require replacement. For abrasive pumping services such as cementing, rubber-coated wear plates should be used. If toluene, xylene, or several other petroleum-based products are being pumped, all-steel wear plates or wear plates covered with 70-durometer Buna N Rubber should be a requirement because these fluids will cause the rubber on the wear plates to swell. This swelling can induce the impeller of the pump to stall or cause the rubber coating to come off the wear plates. A worn plate will quickly cause the impeller to wear as well because the liquid starts to flow in an uncontrolled, or turbulent, manner. Therefore, when a new impeller is installed, the wear plates should be changed. For optimum performance,the correct clearance between the impeller and the wear plates is 1/16 inch.

Shims are used to make fine adjustments to the clearance between the plate and impeller. These shims are laminated and individual layers can be removed to get an exact fit.


Wear Rings

Wear rings serve the same function as wear plates, but they are used in centrifugals that contain closed impellers (such as the RB 2x3x11). Wear rings are commonly made of brass.


The centrifugal pump shaft supports the impeller and is itself supported by bearings. The shaft transmits the torque from a power source to the impeller where it is subjected to radial, axial, and torque loads.

Radial loads are due to the impeller weight and pressure differences around the impeller when it is moving in a liquid.

Axial loads are due to the pressure differences between both sides of the impeller.

Torque loads due to rotation are transmitted by the key. It is combined with a close fit between the shaft and impeller to and from the shaft.

In addition to these loads, the shaft also suffers abrasion in the sealing area. Some shafts have interchangeable sleeves where the contact occurs, for example the Guinard pump. Even with all these loads, the impeller deflection needs to be smaller than the minimum clearance between rotating and stationary parts. Shafts have a critical speed above which they should not run, or they become subject to progressively more severe loads.


The bearings support the shaft. The shaft needs to be supported and held with precision. Otherwise, the impeller will touch the casing and the packing will have a shorter life span. Generally, bearings are lubricated either by an oil bath (such as the RB 2X3X11) or grease through a grease nipple connection on the casing (such as the RA 4x5). The bearings for the RA56 and the RB23 are the same, but those for the RA45 are slightly smaller.

Bearing Frame and Stuffing Box

The bearing frame contains the bearings that support the shaft where the impeller is mounted, and contains the bearing lubrication system (either an oil bath or grease system).

A seal or packing that is contained in the stuffing box is located between the stationary casing and the rotating shaft. The stuffing box can either be incorporated in the centrifugal pump casing (such as the RB 2x3x11) or mounted separately (such as the RA 4x5).

The stuffing box and packing material of a centrifugal pump provide an area to seal against leakage from the pump and along the shaft. Liquid may leak from a pump, or air can leak into a lowpressure centrifugal pump. Packing material is used to provide this seal. A correctly packed pump is of critical importance for the pump to work optimally. Worn or incorrect packing material will soon cause the seal to fail and the shaft to score.

Seals of Packing

The packing material must counter the effects of the fluid trying to escape along the shaft when it is being pumped at pressure. These materials can be either seal packings or oil seals. Seals are mounted in the stuffing box to prevent leakage from or into the casing. Packing materials must have a low coefficient of friction an absence of abrasive effect on the shaft

an ability to prevent excessive leakage

Schlumberger uses two main types of packing materials: square braided rope packing rings ("jam-type"), which are used on self-lubricating pumps rubber oil seals ("automatic" or "mechanical" type)


Rope Packing or \"Jam-Type\" Packing

Rope packing is called "jam-type" packing because it is jammed into the stuffing box and adjusted periodically by tightening the nuts on a gland to preserve its sealing ability as it gradually wears down. Rope packing can be found in the Guinard and RB 2x3 pumps. Rope packing in a centrifugal pump acts like a seal around the moving shaft, but only to the extent that it throttles leakage. It does not stop it altogether. That is because the packing is in effect a bearing, and must be lubricated as such. Lubrication comes from a slight leak through the packing or, in emergencies, from a saturant in the packing itself. If the packing is dry it will start to run hot, harden, and score the shaft. Over-tightened packing will soon burn up and score the shaft, so it is important to pack the stuffingbox properly. Typically, the ring next to the gland in jam-type packing does most of the work because the mechanical pressure on the gland is greater than the friction along the rod.

Some common rope packing ring materials are asbestos rope Teflon-coated rope

graphite-coated rope


Mechanical Seals

Mechanical seals work by liquid pressure in the seal chamber forcing the mating faces together and providing a thin film of lubricant between them. The sealed fluid supplies the necessary pressure by forcing the packing against the wearing face. Mechanical seals are usually lubricated with oil from an external lubricating system such as an Alemite pump. Examples of pumps that use mechanical seals are RA 4x5 RA 5x6 RB 2x3x11

The sealing mechanism generally requires no gland adjustment. Pumps employing oil seals have enclosed lubrication systems, making them less susceptible to a pressure loss. Pressure loss can occur with "jam type" seals that are allowed to leak. Oil seals hold pressure from one side only, and have only one correct way of insertion. Neither the "jam-type" seals or the oil seals should ever be over-tightened.

The Lubrication System

If packing is not lubricated, it will soon burn up and score the shaft. Therefore, reliable operation of the packing lube is essential to protect the pump packing. During a job (even a short one), the

failure of any part of the packing lubrication system could ruin the pump packings, causing a job incident and loss. Schlumberger uses three types of lubrication: self-lubricated oil grease

Some pumps use a combination of these three types. The method of lubricating the packing depends largely on the nature of the liquid being pumped as well as the pressure in the stuffing box. When the pumping stuffing box pressure is above atmospheric pressure and the liquid is clean and non-abrasive, the pumped liquid itself will lubricate the packing. The pumped fluid must be allowed to leak or flow through the stuffing box to cool the packing. These pumps must not be run without fluid, or have the discharge closed, because this will reduce the flow of the fluid to cool and lubricate the packing. Examples of self lubricated systems are the RB 2x3 and the LPM pumps. For pumps that havea lower discharge pressure, an enclosed lubrication system is needed to help prevent cavitation. An oil-lubricated system is recommended to permit the pumping of abrasive fluids, such as cement slurries. Oil-lubricated systems are the best of the three systems. For optimum packing life, it is essential that the packing is properly lubricated. It takes only a few seconds for an improperly lubricated packing to be totally ruined. Inadequate lubrication also causes heat generation, which also shortens the life of the packing.

An air-operated pump (Alemite pump) delivers lubricating oil to a divider block (McCord Divider), which in turn divides and delivers oil equally to each packing set. A blockage in any of the delivery lines will normally mean the failure of the entire packing lubricating system because the McCord Divider will not operate properly if any of its outlet ports are blocked. Examples of pumps that use oil lubrication systems are the RA 4x5 and RA 5x6. Grease lubrication is not very efficient. It is a simple form of lubrication used on pumps that have a higher discharge rate and low pressure. An example of a pump that uses grease lubrication is the RB 10x12. Here's a summary of the three types of lubrication. Lubrication Oil Conditions Low discharge pressure. Enclosed lubrication system to help prevent cavitation. Efficiency Examples Highest RA 4x5 RA 5x6

Allows pumping of abrasive fluids. Stuffing box pressure is above atmospheric pressure. Self-lubricating Liquid is clean and non-abrasive. Higher discharge rate. Grease Low pressure. Lowest RB 10x12 Medium RB 2x3 LPM


Power Source

Schlumberger uses centrifugal pumps that have a variety of drive mechanisms largely chosen for practical and economic reasons.


Diesel Drives

Diesel-driven C-pumps are generally found on small pressurizer skids and blenders. The pump is driven by an extended shaft, which is generally broken (for alignment purposes) by a drive coupling between the engine and the pump.


Electric Drives

Electric driven C-pumps can be found on the Offshore RMX and Batch Mixers and generally take the form of pressurizer pumps (RA45 - RA56). The shaft is usually extended and as a safety mechanism, overload breakers are incorporated into the main power supply.


Power-Take-Off (PTO)

Power-Take-Offs are drive mechanisms coupled directly from the transmission of the engine. Although they are usually mounted on cementing units to drive the various centrifugals (for example, the RB23, RB45, or RB56 on the CPS-361 cementing skid), they can also be found on Heli-units.


Hydraulic Drives
Hydraulic drives power pressurizer C-pumps on cement pump units, recirculating mixers, and batch mixers (RA45-RA56). Although many are driven from the hydraulic system of the unit, some have an independent power pack. The hydraulic pump of the unit drives a hydraulic motor that is connected to the C-pump by means of a close-coupled splined shaft. This is a direct drive. The system is often fitted with an over-pressure relief mechanism that prevents an unwanted hydraulic pressure build-up.

Centrifugal Pumps Used by Schlumberger

Main Centrifugals Used (Values Are Given for Water) Discharge Pressure (psi) 150 45 55 55 Output (rpm) 6.5 12 20 100 Max. RPM 3550 3600 2200 1800 Power Source^ E, H, P E, H, P E, H, P D

Pump Schlumberger RB 2x3 Schlumberger RA 4x5 Schlumberger RA 5x6 Schlumberger 10x12

HP 55 25 30

Uses Low pressure mixing pump Make-up pressurizing Make-up pressurizing

200 Blender pressurizing

D = diesel, E = electric, H = hydraulic, P = PTO

Schlumberger uses volute or radial type single-stage centrifugal pumps.


Pumps with Open Impellers

The following centrifugal pumps with open impellers will be addressed in this section: RA45 RA56 LaBour 5x6


4x5 Schlumberger Model RA45

The RA45 is used on Schlumberger units as a pressurizing and make-up pump. This C-pump is designed with a 4-in. discharge and a 5-in. suction (which is the source of the 4x5 in the title). It is used for both sand and cement pumping operations.

It generally employs mechanical oil seals. Rotation can be either clockwise (CW) or counterclockwise (CCW). To determine rotation of a pump, observe from the shaft towards the volute. If the volute increases in size, going around the impeller in a CW direction, it is a CW rotation pump. If it increases in a CCW direction, it is a CCW rotation pump. A pump of one rotation can be converted to the opposite rotation by reversing the volute or installing an oppositely rotating impeller.


5x6 Schlumberger Model RA56

This pump is similar to the RA45 and has similar characteristics. It has a 5-in. discharge and a 6-in. suction. It is used on re-circulating mixers, paddle blenders, and as a pressurizing pump on MD1000 units, CPS 361, and Slurry Chiefs.


LaBour Pump 5x6

The main application of this C-pump is the pressurizer pump on a Tornado* mixer. It is hydraulically driven, the bearings are oil lubricated, and the packing is a liquid oil seal type. It has a 5-in. discharge and a 6-in. suction.


Pumps with Closed Impellers

All the closed impeller centrifugals in Schlumberger are used as low-pressure mixing pumps. All pumps, except the Gorman Rupp are either driven by PTO or hydraulic motor. The Gorman Rupp centrifugal is only driven by PTO.


10x12 Schlumberger Model RA02 and RB02

These pumps have been designed for use on blenders. The two models RA02 and RB02 are basically the same. The only difference is the frame and the suction adapters.

On the RB02, the frame is designed to accept the right-angle gear box mounting. The suction adapter is designed to fit the suction duct from the blender mixer tank. On the RA02, the frame is standard design. The suction adapter is standard ASA 150 flange for mounting as a deck pump on blenders. Other parts in the two pumps are identical. They both have 10-in. discharge and 12-in. suction.


2x3x11 Schlumberger Model RB23

This pump has been designed for use as a low pressure mixing pump on the cementing units. It has a 2-in. discharge, a 3-in. suction, and an 11-in. impeller. The RB23 has two designs using different shafts. One shaft is a standard extended shaft for conventional drive. The other shaft is short with an internal spline. This design is used to mount the hydraulic motor direct to the frame on a pump truck. Rotation of the pumps can be either clockwise or counter-clockwise. On the PTO-driven pump, the main engine (8V-71) must be shut down before the PTO can be engaged or disengaged. Although rope packing has been used extensively in the RB23 stuffing box, it is being phased out in favor of mechanical oil seals. These are lubricated by oil injected from a hose connected to the McCord Divider, through the stuffing box, and into the lantern gland in the center of the packing arrangement. In this system, the bronze packing gland is then made up flush against the back plate. No abrasive fluids may be pumped by an RB23 that employs rope packing, otherwise the packing and shaft life are severely shortened.

Fundamental Calculations and Performance Curves

To understand centrifugal pump operations and the variables involved in pump performance, fundamental calculations and sample performance curves illustrate how variables can affect the output of the pump. This should help you optimize the performance of the pump and ensure it runs smoothly in conjunction with other Schlumberger equipment.


Total Head

The pressure at any point in a liquid is caused by a vertical column of liquid that, due to its weight, exerts a pressure. This is directly related to the height of the column, which is called the "static head," and is expressed in terms of liquid feet.


Total Head
The static head corresponding to any specific pressure is dependent upon the weight of the liquid, as shown in the following formula. Head in Feet = (Pressure in PSI x 2.31) / Specific Gravity of the Liquid.


Total Head
Output of centrifugals is measured in head energy available at discharge. As a centrifugal pump imparts velocity to a liquid, the velocity energy is transformed into pressure energy as the liquid leaves the pump at the discharge port. Therefore, the total head developed in the system is approximately equal to the velocity energy at the edge of the impeller. This relationship can be shown by the formula: H = V2 / 2g where H = Total head developed in feet, V = Velocity at the periphery of the impeller in feet per second, and g = the force of gravity on the fluid column (32.2 ft/sec2).


Total Head
For a given centrifugal pump, the total head depends on the rpm of the impeller. Therefore, the total head can only be increased by increasing the rpm. At constant rpm, both pressure and kinetic energy can be interchanged.


Total Head

The approximate head of any centrifugal pump can be predicted by calculating the velocity at the outer tip, or periphery, of the impeller and substituting the above formula. The following formula may be used to calculate peripheral velocity: V = (RPM x D) / 229 where D = Impeller diameter in inches.


Total Head
Heres an example for calculating the maximum head that a RA45 will develop. Suppose the impeller diameter of an RA45 is 8.375 inches and the impeller rpm is 2200. V = (RPM x D) / 229 V = (2200 RPM x 8.375 in.) / 229 V = 80.5 ft/sec. H = V2 / 2g H = (80.5 ft/sec.)2 / 2 (32.2 ft/sec2) H = 6480.25 ft2/sec2 / 64.4 ft/sec2 H = 100.6 ft The maximum head this RA45 will develop is 100.6 ft.


Total Head

By comparing the calculations with the RA45 performance curve, the curve shows a total head of just over 100 ft, like the calculation. This demonstrates why feet of liquid, rather than pressure, is used when working with centrifugal pumps. A given impeller diameter and speed will raise a liquid to a certain height regardless of the weight of the liquid.


Specific Gravity and Pressure

Fluid Oil Water Cement Specific Gravity 0.6 1.0 1.5 Pressure (psi) 25.97 43.29 64.94

Heres a table that is useful when comparing fluids with different specific gravities.


Specific Gravity and Pressure

Fluid Oil Water Cement Specific Gravity 0.6 1.0 1.5 Pressure (psi) 25.97 43.29 64.94

Heres the calculation for discharge pressure if oil is used. Suppose the impeller diameter is 10.21 inches and the pump rpm is 1800. V = (RPM x D) / 229 V = (1800 x 10.21) / 229 V = 80.25 ft/sec. H = V2 / 2g H = (80.25 ft/sec) 2 / 2 (32.2 ft/sec2) H = 6440 ft2/sec2 / 64.4 ft/sec2 H= 100 ft Discharge Pressure = (Head x Specific Gravity of Fluid) / Constant where Constant = 2.31 Light Crude Oil, Specific Gravity = 0.60 Discharge Pressure = (100 ft x 0.60) / 2.31

Pressure = 25.97 psi


Specific Gravity and Pressure

Fluid Oil Water Cement Specific Gravity 0.6 1.0 1.5 Pressure (psi) 25.97 43.29 64.94

Heres the calculation for discharge pressure if water is used. Suppose the impeller diameter is 10.21 inches and the pump rpm is 1800. V = (RPM x D) / 229 V = (1800 x 10.21) / 229 V = 80.25 ft/sec. H = V2 / 2g H = (80.25 ft/sec) 2 / 2 (32.2 ft/sec2) H = 6440 ft2/sec2 / 64.4 ft/sec2 H = 100 ft Discharge Pressure = (Head x Specific Gravity of Fluid) / Constant where Constant = 2.31 Water, Specific Gravity = 1.0 Discharge Pressure = (100 ft x 1.0) / 2.31 Pressure = 43.29 psi


Specific Gravity and Pressure

Fluid Oil Water Specific Gravity Pressure (psi) 0.6 1.0 25.97 43.29 64.94

Cement 1.5

Heres the calculation for discharge pressure if cement is used. Suppose the impeller diameter is 10.21 inches and the pump rpm is 1800. V = (RPM x D) / 229 V = (1800 x 10.21) / 229 V = 80.25 ft/sec. H = V2 / 2g H = (80.25 ft/sec) 2 / 2 (32.2 ft/sec2) H = 6440 ft2/sec2 / 64.4 ft/sec2 H = 100 ft Discharge Pressure = (Head x Specific Gravity of Fluid) / Constant where Constant = 2.31 13 lbm/gal Cement, Specific Gravity = 1.5 Discharge Pressure = (100 ft x 1.5) / 2.31 Pressure = 64.94 psi

Horsepower and Efficiency

The work accomplished by a pump is the weight of the liquid pumped in an interval of time multiplied by the Total Head. This work is called water horsepower.


Hydraulic Horsepower (HHP)

Since liquids other than water can be used, it is preferable to call it hydraulic horsepower (HHP). HHP is the horsepower output of the pump. The HHP is defined as: HHP = (Q x TH x Sp. Gr.) / 3960 where Q = Flow, gpm TH = Total Head, feet

or HHP = Q x (P / Sp. Gr.) x 40.8 where Q = Flow, BPM P = Pressure, PSI Sp. Gr. = Specific Gravity


Brake Horsepower (BHP)

The power required to drive the pump is called Brake Horsepower (BHP). The BHP is found by inserting a torque meter on the pump shaft together with a speed sensor. Using these two inputs, one can calculate BHP delivered to the pump.


Pump Efficiency
Pump efficiency is determined by dividing HHP by BHP. Pump efficiency = HHP / BHP Substituting from the earlier definitions: Pump Efficiency = [Pressure (psi) x Rate (BPM)] / (40.8 x BHP) Both BHP and HHP can be obtained from the performance curves for a pump.

Net Positive Suction Head(NPSH) and Cavitation

Net Positive Suction Head (NPSH) may be defined as the total suction head in feet absolute (determined at the suction nozzle and corrected to datum), less the vapor pressure of the liquid in feet absolute. Simply stated, it is an analysis of energy conditions on the suction side of a pump that will determine if a liquid will vaporize at the lowest pressure point in a pump. NPSH = Total Suction (ft) - Vapor Pressure of Liquid (ft)


Net Positive Suction Head-Required (NPSH-R)

All centrifugals have certain requirements on NPSH to work properly. This is the Net Positive Suction Head-Required (NPSH-R). The majority of centrifugal pump problems are a direct result of less than required NPSH.


Net Positive Suction Head- Available (NPSH-A)

It is important to understand the characteristic of NPSH-A of centrifugal pumps to avoid problems when laying and hooking up suction hoses and lines. Keep suction lines as short and straight as possible. The maximum volume for a 4-in. suction hose is 7 BPM for a 12-1/2-ft hose under ideal conditions. This can change with long lines, high lift, and many other conditions that would indicate a lower rate. The higher the flow rate, the higher the friction loss that can result in air or vapor separation. Although most factors of available NPSH are controllable, friction loss is usually easier than the others. Elbows, tees, and other sharp turns can complicate the situation further. Those located near the pump suction, where they can set up uneven flow patterns or vapor separation, cause uneven filling of the impeller vanes. This can affect the hydraulic balance of the impeller, leading to possible cavitation, excessive shaft deflection or breakage, and premature bearing and impeller retaining bolt failures.


When insufficient NPSH is available, one frequently encountered problem is cavitation. This term is used to describe the phenomenon that occurs in pumps when the pressure of the liquid being pumped is reduced to a value equal to or below its vapor pressure.

At or below the vapor pressure, the liquid begins to change to a gas (that is, it "boils") and forms vapor bubbles in the liquid. The vapor bubbles produced by cavitation will be moved along the impeller blades toward high-pressure areas. The higher pressure will raise the fluid above its vapor pressure, and the bubbles will rapidly collapse as the vapor changes back to a liquid. Cavitation is usually heard as a growling or rumbling sound, much like the noise of pumping gravel. The forces are sometimes high enough to cause small fatigue failures on the impeller vane surfaces. This is progressive under long pumping periods in this condition. The pitting and fatigue failures are referred to as "cavitation erosion," which can sometimes be severe enough to cause vibration, and, ultimately, shaft and bearing failure. Cavitation should not be confused with entrained air. Entrained air is air bubbles that have entered the system through leaks in the stuffing box or through some other source. The only way to prevent

the undesirable effects of cavitation is to ensure that the NPSH available to the system (NPSH-A) is greater than the NPSH required (NPSH-R) by the pump.

Cavitation In designing a piping layout, the engineer should always provide the most NPSH-A possible. NPSH-A is calculated as follows: NPSH-A = (2.31 / Sp. Gr.) x (Ps - Pv) + Z - hf where NPSH-A = feet absolute Ps = pressure liquid surface, psia Pv = vapor pressure of liquid, psia Z = static head, in feet hf = friction head, in feet


In an existing system, NPSH-A can be found by a gauge located on the pump suction and becomes: NPSH-A = (2.31 / Sp. Gr.) x (Ps - Pv) + (Pg) + hv Where NPSH-A = feet absolute Ps = pressure over liquid surface, psia Pv = vapor pressure of liquid, psia Pg = gauge reading, psia hv = velocity head at gauge attachment, feet.

Cavitation In summary, whenever a system offers insufficient NPSH-A, either NPSH-A should be increased or NPSH-R should be reduced. To increase NPSH-A, raise the liquid level lower the pump reduce the friction losses in the suction piping use a booster pump sub-cool the liquid to reduce the Pv

Cavitation To reduce NPSH-R, lower the pump speed use a double-suction impeller enlarge the impeller-eye area use an oversized pump employ an inducer upstream of the impeller


Performance Curves

The performance of a centrifugal pump can be shown graphically on a characteristic curve that depicts the inter-relationship of total dynamic head, brake horsepower (BHP), efficiency, and net positive suction head (NPSH) for a specific impeller and casing. The capacity curve shows the relationship between capacity and total head while a system head curve is obtained by combining the friction head with the static head and any pressure differences in the pumping system.


Performance Curves

These curves are important for determining the type of pump you will need for a certain application, and can show the differences in the major classes of pumps.


Performance Curves

Heres a hypothetical engineering problem to illustrate the use of the performance curves. Suppose a piping network requires a flow of 700 gallons per minute (gpm) at a total head of 140 feet of water. Also, the maximum and minimum system heads have been calculated to be 500 gpm at 143 feet and 1050 gpm at 125 feet, respectively. First, a vertical line is drawn from the X-axis at 700 gpm. It is joined together with a horizontal line drawn from the left Y-axis at 140 feet.


Performance Curves

The operating point of the pump is the intersection of these two lines, which falls on the 2200 rpm capacity curve (Total Head curve). Therefore, the pump will be specified to operate at 2200 revolutions per minute (rpm).


Performance Curves

The operating range of the pump also needs to be known. In theory, the operating range of the pump is the entire capacity curve. In some cases, it is. In most cases design restraints, such as the system heads of the pipe system, will determine the operating range. For this example, the maximum and minimum system heads have been calculated. These heads will set the operating range of the pump. Vertical lines are drawn from the X-axis at 500 gpm and 1050 gpm up to 143 and 125 feet, respectively. These lines should intersect the 2200 rpm capacity curve.


Performance Curves

Additional information is given from this performance curve. To find the NPSH-R at 700 gpm, find the intersection of the vertical line and the NPSH curve.


Performance Curves

A horizontal line is drawn from this intersection to the right Y-axis to read the value of NPSH, which is 20 feet absolute. The engineer should determine if NPSH-A is greater than 20 feet. Knowing the maximum operating point of this pump will be at 1050 gpm for this hypothetical network, the NPSH-R is determined to be 23 feet. Therefore, the NPSH-A should be greater than 23 feet.


Performance Curves

The next piece of information needed is the input BHP required to operate this pump. Look at the BHP diagonal lines. Since the operating range of the pump is known, choose the BHP that is required for the maximum operating point that will be encountered, which is 1050 gpm at 125 feet of head. Look for the BHP line that is above the operating range. It does not intersect the 2200 rpm capacity curve. The 50-BHP line totally contains the operating range of the pump. Therefore, a 50BHP drive mechanism is specified.


Performance Curves

The final information that is needed from this performance curve is efficiency. Efficiency can be used when you need to choose among several different pumps. If all other variables are the same or nearly the same, you should choose the most efficient pump. As mentioned before, each efficiency curve depicts the boundary of the curve labeled efficiency. For this pump, the efficiency increases from 52% at the minimum operating point to 74% at the maximum operating point.

Parallel and Series Operations

Sometimes it is necessary to operate two or more pumps in conjunction with one another. The pumps will either bein parallel orin series depending on the requirements of the operation. For pumps to work in parallel or in series, both pumps must be very similar in rate and pressure.


Parallel Operation
If two pumps are connected such that the two discharges are into the same outlet, the total rate will be the sum of the two individual rates. The pressure will not change. This is called parallel operation. In a parallel operation, the discharge head is equal to that of one pump and the volume is equal to the total of the two. In this case care should be exercised with the suction manifold to ensure that

one pump does not starve. The discharge capabilities of each pump should also be fairly close to avoid one pump moving fluid back through the second pump.

For example, two pumps are to be operated together in parallel. Each has the capacity of 20 BPM @ 100 ft of head. Volume = 20 BPM + 20 BPM = 40 BPM Head = 100 ft


Series Operation
When two pumps are connected where one is pumping into the suction of the other, the total pressure is the sum of the individual pressures. The rate will not change. This is called series operation. The result of a series operation is the opposite of a parallel system. The volume is limited to the capacity of one pump but the head is equal to the sum of the two. This occurs because performance curves denote the differential head across the pump so the second pump will add its head to the head supplied to its suction by the first pump. If this is attempted, it is imperative to know the maximum working case pressure of the pump to avoid bursting the second pump. In oilfield service, this type of hookup is seldom if ever used. It is never used when pumping slurry. In industrial service, it is used on a limited basis when pumping clear fluids. Due to the high incidence of seal failures in the second pump, this type of operation is discouraged.

For example, two pumps are to be operated together in series. Each has the capacity of 20 BPM @ 100 ft of head. Volume = 20 BPM Head = 100 + 100

Head = 200 ft Although the theoretical head for series operation is 200 ft, the actual head will be lower. This is due to the friction loss in the manifold between pumps and will vary with volumes and manifold arrangements.