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# SUBJECT : Calculating net positive suction head (NPSH) in non-met ic units !!-!

"# The definition of NPSHA is simple: Static head + surface pressure head - the vapor pressure of your product - the friction losses in the piping, valves and fittings. ut to really understand it, you first have to understand a couple of other concepts:

!avitation is "hat net positive suction head #NPSH\$ is all a%out, so you need to &no" a little a%out cavitation. 'apor Pressure is another term "e "ill %e using. The product(s vapor pressure varies "ith the fluid(s temperature. Specific gravity play an important part in all calculations involving li)uid. *ou have to %e familiar "ith the term. *ou have to %e a%le to read a pump curve to learn the N.P.S.H. re)uired for your pump. *ou need to understand ho" the li)uid(s velocity affects its pressure or head. +t is important to understand "hy "e use the term Head instead of P essu e "hen "e ma&e our calculations. Head loss is an a"&"ard term, %ut you "ill need to understand it.
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*ou "ill have to %e a%le to calculate the head loss through piping, valves and fittings.

*ou must &no" the difference %et"een gage pressure and a%solute pressure. 'acuum is often a part of the calculations, so you are going to have to %e familiar "ith the terms "e use to descri%e vacuum.

## \$ets loo% at each o& these concepts in a little mo e detail :

!avitation means cavities or holes in li)uid. Another name for a hole in a li)uid is a %u%%le, so cavitation is all a%out %u%%les forming and collapsing. o u%%les ta&e up space so the capacity of our pump drops.
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!ollapsing %u%%les can damage the impeller and volute. This ma&es cavitation a pro%lem for %oth the pump and the mechanical seal.

'apor pressure is a%out li)uids %oiling. +f + as&ed you, ,at "hat temperature does "ater %oil -, *ou could say ./.0 1. or /220 !., %ut that is only true at atmospheric pressure. 3very product "ill %oil #ma&e %u%%les\$ at some com%ination of pressure and temperature. +f you &no" the temperature of your product you need to &no" its vapor pressure to prevent %oiling and the formation of %u%%les. +n the charts section of this "e% site you "ill find a vapor pressure chart for several common li)uids.

To calculate the net positive suction head #NPSH\$ of your pump and determine if you are going to have a cavitation pro%lem, you "ill need access to several additional pieces of information:

The curve for your pump. This pump curve is supplied %y the pump manufacturer. Someone in your plant should have a copy. The curve is going to sho" you the Net Positive Suction Head #NPSH\$ re)uired for your pump at a given capacity. 3ach pump is different so ma&e sure you have the correct pump curve and use the num%ers for the impeller diameter on your pump. >eep in mind that this NPSH re)uired "as for cold, fresh "ater.

o o o

sg. C specific gravity pressure C pounds per s)uare inch head C feet

*ou also need to &no" the formulas that sho" you ho" to convert vacuum readings to feet of head. Here are a fe" of them:

To conve t su &ace p essu e to &eet o& li'uid( use one o& the &ollo)ing &o mulas:

+nches of mercury ? /./66 D specific gravity C feet of li)uid Pounds per s)uare inch ? ..6/ D specific gravity C feet of li)uid

## =illimeters of mercury D #...5 ? specific gravity\$ C feet of li)uid

The e a e di&&e ent )a*s to thin% a+out net positive suction head (NPSH) +ut the* all have t)o te ms in common#

NPSHA #net positive suction head availa%le\$ NPSH9 #net positive suction head re)uired\$

Static head. =easure it from the centerline of the pump suction to the top of the li)uid level. +f the level is %elo" the centerline of the pump it "ill %e a negative or minus num%er. Surface pressure head. !onvert the gage a%solute pressure to feet of li)uid using the formula:
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## Pressure C head ? specific gravity D ..6/

'apor pressure of your product . 8oo& at the vapor pressure chart in the ,charts you can use, section in the home page of this "e% site. *ou "ill have to convert the pressure to head. +f you use the a%solute pressure sho"n on the left side of the chart, you can use the a%ove formula Specific gravity of your product. *ou can measure it "ith a hydrometer if no one in your facility has the correct chart or &no"s the num%er. 8oss of pressure in the piping, fittings and valves. 4se the three charts in the ,charts you can use, section in the home page of this "e% site

1ind the chart for the proper pipe siAe, go do"n to the gpm and read across to the loss through one hundred feet of pipe directly from the last column in the chart. As an e?ample: t"o inch pipe, <F gpm C ;.<7 feet of loss for each /22 feet of pipe. 1or valves and fittings loo& up the resistance coefficient num%ers #> num%ers\$ for all the valves and fittings, add them together and multiply the total %y the '.D.g num%er sho"n in the fourth column of the friction loss piping chart. 3?ample: A . inch long radius scre"ed el%o" has a > num%er of 2.5 and a . inch glo%e valve has a > num%er of G. Adding them together #G + 2.5\$ C G.5 ? 2.< #for <F gpm\$ C F feet of loss.

+n the follo"ing e?amples "e "ill %e loo&ing only at the suction side of the pump. +f "e "ere calculating the pump(s total head "e "ould loo& at %oth the suction and discharge sides. 8et(s go through the first e?ample and see if our pump is going to cavitate: :iven:

Atmospheric pressure C /5.; psi :age pressure CThe tan& is at sea level and open to atmospheric pressure. 8i)uid level a%ove pump centerline C F feet Piping C a total of /2 feet of . inch pipe plus one 720 long radius scre"ed el%o". Pumping C/22 gpm. <G01. fresh "ater "ith a specific gravity of one #/\$. 'apor pressure of <G01. Bater C 2..; psia from the vapor chart. Specific gravity C / NPSH9 #net positive suction head re)uired, from the pump curve\$ C 7 feet

## No) &o the calculations:

NPSHA C Atmospheric pressure#converted to head\$ + static head + surface pressure head - vapor pressure of your product - loss in the piping, valves and fittings

Static head C F feet Atmospheric pressure C pressure ? ..6/Dsg. C /5.; ? ..6/D/ C 65 feet a%solute :age pressure C 2 'apor pressure of <G01. "ater converted to head C pressure ? ..6/Dsg C 2..; ? ..6/D/ C 2.<. feet 8oo&ing at the friction charts:
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/22 gpm flo"ing through . inch pipe sho"s a loss of /;.5 feet for each /22 feet of pipe or /;.5D/2 C /.;5 feet of head loss in the piping The > factor for one . inch el%o" is 2.5 ? /.5. C 2.< feet

Adding these num%ers together, /.;5 + 2.< C a total of ..65 feet friction loss in the pipe and fitting.

NPSHA #net positive suction head availa%le\$ C 65 + F + 2 - 2.<. - ..65 C 6<.25 feet The pump re)uired 7 feet of head at /22 gpm. And "e have 6<.25 feet so "e have plenty to spare. E.ample num+e " # This time )e a e going to +e pumping & om a tan% unde vacuum#

/iven:

:age pressure C - .2 inches of vacuum Atmospheic pressure C /5.; psi 8i)uid level a%ove pump centerline C F feet

Piping C a total of /2 feet of . inch pipe plus one 720 long radius scre"ed el%o". Pumping C /22 gpm. <G01 fresh "ater "ith a specific gravity of one #/\$. 'apor pressure of <G01 "ater C 2..; psia from the vapor chart. NPSH9 #net positive suction head re)uired\$ C 7 feet

No) &o the calculations: NPSHA C Atmospheric pressure#converted to head\$ + static head + surface pressure head - vapor pressure of your product - loss in the piping, valves and fittings

Atmospheric pressure C /5.; psi ? ..6/Dsg. C65 feet Static head C F feet :age pessure pressure C .2 inches of vacuum converted to head
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inches of mercury ? /./66 D specific gravity C feet of li)uid -.2 ? /./66 D/ C -...; feet of pressure head a%solute

'apor pressure of <G01 "ater C pressure ? ..6/Dsg. C 2..; ? ..6/D/ C 2.<. feet 8oo&ing at the friction charts:
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/22 gpm flo"ing through ..F inch pipe sho"s a loss of /;.5 feet or each /22 feet of pipe or /;.5D/2 C /.;5 feet loss in the piping The > factor for one . inch el%o" is 2.5 ? /.5. C 2.< feet

Adding these t"o num%ers together: #/.;5 + 2.<\$ C a total of ..65 feet friction loss in the pipe and fitting.

NPSHA #net positive suction head availa%le\$ C 65 + F - ...; - 2.<. - ..65 C /6.65 feet. This is enough to stop cavitation also. 0o the thi d e.ample )e )ill %eep eve *thing the same e.cept that )e )ill +e pumping !123 0# hot condensate & om the vacuum tan%# The vapor pressure of /G201 condensate is ; psi according to the chart. Be get the specific gravity from another chart and find that it is 2.7; sg. for /G20 1. 1resh "ater. Putting this into the p essu e conve sion &o mula )e get:

## pressure ? ..6/Dsg. C ; ? ..6/ D 2.7; C /<.; feet a%solute

NPSHA C Atmospheric pressure#converted to head\$ + static head + surface pressure head - vapor pressure of your product - loss in the piping, valves and fittings NPSHA #net positive suction head availa%le\$ C 65 + F - ...; - /<.; - ..65 C -..;5 feet. Be need 7 feet, so the pump is going to cavitate for sure. A fe" notes a%out this last e?ample:

A negative NPSHA is physically impossi%le %ecause it implies that the friction losses e?ceed the availa%le head and that cannot happen. The rule "hen pumping a %oiling fluid is: The NPSHA e)uals the Static Suction Head minus the Suction friction head %ecause the suction surface pressure and the vapor pressure e)ualiAe one another. The a%solute pressure in the tan& is 65 -...; C //.6 ft. The vapor pressure of the condensate in the tan& converts to /<.; ft of head #see a%ove\$ so the condensate is %oiling Dflashing and reaching a state of e)uili%rium. Bhen pumping a %oiling li)uid, the Static Head must e?ceed the Suction 1riction Head #..65 feet\$ %y the amount of NPSH 9e)uired #7 feet\$ or: #7 ft. + ..65 feet C //.65 feet.\$ Be can do this %y raising the level in the suction tan& an additional <.65 feet to get the //.65 feet re)uired #<.65 feet + F feet e?isting C //.65 feet\$ +n some instances you could reduce the Suction 1riction Head to get the same result, %ut in this e?ample there is not enough friction head availa%le to reduce. This e?ample also allo"s you to shortcut NPSHA calculations any time you are pumping from a tan& "here the li)uid is at its vapor pressure. Hil refineries are full of these applications.

+f you are given the a%solute and vapor pressures in psia, and you forgot ho" to convet to feet of headI you can use the follo"ing formula, providing you &no" the specific "eight of the li)uid you are pumping :

Pp C A%solute pressure e?pressed in psia. +n an open system, Pp e)uals atmospheric pressure, Pa, e?pressed in psia. Pvpa C 'apor pressure e?pressed in psia. B C Specific "eight of li)uid at the pumping temperature in pounds per cu%ic foot.

## T)o Catego ies 4 7inetic (Cent i&ugal) and Positive 5isplacement

There are t"o main categories of pumps - &inetic and positive displacement. Almost all pumps fall into one of these t"o categories. The main difference %et"een &inetic and positive displacement pumps lies in the method of fluid transfer. A &inetic pump imparts velocity energy to the fluid, "hich is converted to pressure energy upon e?iting the pump casing. A positive displacement pump moves a fi?ed volume of fluid "ithin the pump casing %y applying a force to movea%le %oundaries containing the fluid volume.

>inetic pumps can %e further divided into t"o categories of pumps J centrifugal and special effect. Special effect pumps include @et pumps, reversi%le centrifugal, gas lift, electromagnetic and hydraulic ram. Special effect pumps are not commonly used relative to centrifugal pumps, so they "ill not %e covered in this course.

Positive displacement pumps are also divided into t"o ma@or pump categories J reciprocating and rotary. 9eciprocating pumps transfer a volume of fluid %y a cran&shaft, eccentric cam or an alternating fluid pressure acting on a piston, plunger or a diaphragm in a reciprocating motion. 9otary pumps operate %y transferring a volume of fluid in cavities located %et"een rotating and stationary components inside the pump casing. The relative features of reciprocating and rotary pumps, as "ell as centrifugal pumps, "ill %e covered in this course.

1igure / %elo" sho"s the ma@or pump categories and the types of pumps "ithin each category.

## Compa ison Ta+le 4 Cent i&ugal vs# Positive 5isplacement Pumps

Ta%le / %elo" outlines some of the main differences %et"een centrifugal pumps, reciprocating pumps and rotary pumps. Note that KcentrifugalL, KreciprocatingL and KrotaryL pumps are all relatively %road categories. The ta%le %elo" provides a comparison of features %et"een these pump categories that generally holds true. Ho"ever, there are e?ceptions. 1or e?ample, reciprocating pumps generally re)uire more space than centrifugal pumps for a given flo" rate. ut, there may %e specific applications "here a positive displacement pump re)uires less space relative to a centrifugal pump. Also, note that Ta%le / lists typical ma?imum flo" rates and heads. +t is possi%le to %uild special pumps outside the upper %ounds of the pressures and flo" rates listed, %ut such pumps "ould %e prohi%itively e?pensive for most applications.

Pa amete

## :ecip ocating Pumps

:ota * Pumps

Hptimum 1lo" and Pressure Applications =a?imum 1lo" 9ate 8o" 1lo" 9ate !apa%ility =a?imum Pressure 9e)uires 9elief 'alve Smooth or Pulsating 1lo" 'aria%le or !onstant 1lo" Self-priming Space !onsiderations !osts

=ediumDHigh !apacity, 8o"D=edium Pressure /22,222+ :P= No <,222+ PS+ No Smooth 'aria%le No 9e)uires 8ess Space 8o"er +nitial 8o"er =aintenance

8o" !apacity, High Pressure /2,222+ :P= *es /22,222+ PS+ *es Pulsating !onstant *es 9e)uires =ore Space Higher +nitial Higher =aintenance

8o"D=edium !apacity, 8o"D=edium Pressure /2,222+ :P= *es 5,222+ PS+ *es Smooth !onstant *es 9e)uires 8ess Space 8o"er +nitial 8o"er =aintenance

1luid Handling

Higher Po"er 8o"er Po"er 8o"er Po"er Suita%le for a "ide range Suita%le for clean, clear, 9e)uires clean, clear, nonincluding clean, clear, nonnon-a%rasive fluids. a%rasive fluid due to close a%rasive fluids to fluids "ith Specially-fitted pumps tolerances a%rasive, high-solid content. suita%le for a%rasive-slurry service.

## Not suita%le for high

viscosity fluids

Suita%le for high viscosity fluids Hptimum performance "ith high viscosity fluids

## Ta+le ! 4 Compa ison Ta+le

Capacit*

The "ide variety of centrifugal pumps manufactured offer a relatively large range of availa%le capacities. 9adial-flo" and mi?ed flo" pumps are used for lo" to medium capacity applications. 1or high capacity applications, a?ial-flo" pumps are capa%le of delivering flo" rates in e?cess of /22,222 gpm. !entrifugal pumps are not sta%le at lo" flo" rates, although there are special lo"-flo" centrifugal pumps availa%le that can deliver flo" rates less than /2 gpm. Ho"ever, for e?treme lo"-flo" applications #M / gpm\$, positive displacement pumps are a %etter selection.

9eciprocating and rotary pumps are capa%le of capacities ranging from lo" to medium, "ith flo" rates pea&ing at /2,222+ gpm. +n theory, reciprocating pumps can %e manufactured to deliver more capacity, %ut they %ecome prohi%itively large and e?pensive at high flo" rates. oth reciprocating and rotary pumps are capa%le of delivering product at e?tremely lo" flo" rates #fractions of a gpm\$, ma&ing them particularly suita%le for many chemical in@ection applications.

P essu e

!entrifugal pumps and rotary pumps are %est suited for lo" to medium pressure applications. 9eciprocating pumps are usually specified for high pressure service, "ith capa%ilities e?ceeding

/22,222 psi. =ulti-stage centrifugal pumps can deliver at pressures of <,222+ psi and may %e the most economical choice at this pressure in high capacity applications. ut, in most applications e?ceeding /,222 psig, reciprocating pumps are more suita%le, particularly in lo" to medium capacity service. oth reciprocating and rotary pumps "ill continually increase pressure "hen pumping against a closed discharge to the e?tent allo"ed %y the driverNs horsepo"er. This can result in overpressure of the pump or piping components, so it is necessary to install a relief valve on the discharge of the pump capa%le of discharging the full capacity of the pump. A centrifugal pumpNs pressure rise is limited to the shut-off pressure on the pump curve, "hich is al"ays less than the design pressure of the pump #and the piping system if properly designed\$. A relief valve is only needed if no other measures are provided to detect lo" flo" conditions and shut do"n the pump to prevent damage. The relief valve need only %e siAed to pass the minimum flo" rate re)uired to maintain sta%le flo" and prevent e?cessive temperature rise.

## Smooth o Pulsating 0lo)

!entrifugal pumps and most rotary pumps provide smooth, non-pulsating flo", "hile reciprocating pumps produce a pulsating flo". A pulsating flo" may re)uire special design considerations in the piping system. +f the pump is not located near the suction source, then acceleration head can contri%ute to lo" NPSHA pro%lems, "hich may re)uire the installation of a suction sta%iliAer. A pulsation dampener may need to %e installed in the discharge piping to reduce pressure surges resulting from the pulsating flo".

## ;a ia+le o Constant 0lo)

!entrifugal pumps operate on a varia%le-flo", varia%le-head curve. As the discharge pressure decreases, the pump delivers a higher flo" rate. At any given speed, reciprocating and rotary pumps operate at a constant flo" rate regardless of the discharge pressure. There are specific applications that re)uire either constant flo" or varia%le flo". =etering pumps rely on a constant flo" at varying pressures, "hich ma&es reciprocating pumps and rotary pumps suita%le for this application. Piston pumps used for metering "ill often use an ad@usta%le stro&e length to allo" the operator to vary the flo" rate to meet the system re)uirements. !entrifugal pumps are favored "here process conditions often re)uire varying flo" rates. 1or e?ample, a level control valve must throttle the flo" rate from a vessel to maintain a constant level in the vessel. A centrifugal pump is "ell suited to handle this process condition, "hereas a positive displacement pump "ould either re)uire a continuous recycle to suction or a varia%le speed driver to accommodate the varia%le flo".

Sel&-p iming

9eciprocating and rotary pumps are self-priming. This is an important consideration "here a prime cannot %e maintained on the pump. !entrifugal pumps are not inherently self-priming, although some manufacturers do specially design self-priming units. 3?ternal priming sources, such as an eductor or vacuum pump can also %e employed.

## Costs and Space Conside ations

+n an overlap region "here the conditions are suita%le to use a centrifugal, reciprocating or a rotary pump, the follo"ing rules generally apply: The reciprocating pump "ill generally have higher initial capital costs and "ill re)uire more space relative to the centrifugal pump or the rotary pump. The reciprocating pump "ill generally have higher maintenance costs relative to the centrifugal pump or the rotary pump. The centrifugal pump "ill generally have higher annual po"er consumption costs relative to the reciprocating pump or the rotary pump %ecause of lo"er efficiencies. Hf course, there are many e?ceptions. These are @ust general guidelines. A pump that is selected for an application outside of its optimum operating parameters "ill almost certainly not follo" these rules. 1or e?ample, a rotary pump operating in a high pressure, a%rasive-slurry service "ould pro%a%ly have higher maintenance costs than a properly selected reciprocating pump. The close running clearances #particularly for high pressure service\$ re)uired in the rotary pump "ould li&ely result in premature "ear and fre)uent maintenance.

0luid Handling

!entrifugal pumps are suita%le for transferring a variety of fluids ranging from clean, clear nona%rasive fluids to a%rasive-slurries. Ho"ever, a centrifugal pump is not the %est choice for pumping highly viscous fluids due to dramatic drops in efficiency at high viscosities. !entrifugal pumps are not normally specified for viscosities higher than a%out 5,222 SS4. !entrifugal pumps are also not "ell suited to pumping entrained air. =ost centrifugal pumps can handle up to a%out .E entrained gas and specially-designed pumps can handle up to a%out /2E.

9eciprocating pumps are "ell suited for transferring clear, non-a%rasive fluids, as "ell as a%rasive slurries. +n fact, the relatively lo" velocities of moving parts "ithin a reciprocating pump ma&e it particularly resistant to erosion in a%rasive-slurry applications, provided that the pump is properly designed for the service. 9eciprocating pumps maintain high efficiencies "hen pumping highly viscous fluids and can easily handle F2E and higher volumes of entrained gas.

9otary pumps can also handle high viscosity fluids and high volumes of entrained gas. +n fact, many rotary pumps operate at their %est efficiency at higher viscosities. Ho"ever, rotary pumps are not "ell suited for pumping corrosive fluids or fluids "ith a%rasive solids %ecause of close clearances %et"een rotating and static pump components.

Summa *

The comparisons %et"een different pump categories presented in this course are general. The information is intended to familiariAe the student "ith some of the %asic differences %et"een centrifugal, reciprocating and rotary pumps. Ho"ever, there are many different su%categories of pumps "ithin these %road categories and there are many regions of overlap "here multiple types of pumps in the same category and even in different categories "ould %e suita%le. Since every pump application is uni)ue, each of the factors that influence the pump selection must %e considered in detail.