You are on page 1of 12


fm Page 1 Friday, May 7, 2004 3:56 PM

Pumps and Fans

41.1 Introduction
41.2 Pumps
Centrifugal and Other Velocity-Head Pumps •
Positive-Displacement Pumps • Selecting a Pump Based
upon Flow Considerations
Robert F. Boehm 41.3 Vacuum Pumps
University of Nevada, Las Vegas 41.4 Fans

41.1 Introduction
Pumps are devices that impart a pressure increase to a liquid. Fans are used to increase the velocity of a
gas, but this is also accomplished through an increase in pressure. The pressure rise found in pumps can
vary tremendously, and this is a very important design parameter along with the liquid flow rate. This
pressure rise can range from simply increasing the elevation of the liquid to increasing the pressure by
hundreds of atmospheres. Fan applications, on the other hand, generally deal with small pressure
increases. In spite of this seemingly significant distinction between pumps and fans, there are many
similarities in the fundamentals of certain types of these machines as well as with their application and
theory of operation.
Pumps or fans can be used as a means of forcing flows into a region of interest or, alternatively,
exhausting flows from a region of interest. For example, the inlet to an induced draft fan is attached to
the region of interest. Forced draft fans are hooked with their exhaust side to the region of interest.
Pumps are usually not denoted with this distinction except for vacuum pumps, which are always used
to exhaust a fluid from a volume of interest.
The appropriate use of pumps and fans depends upon the satisfactory choice of device and the proper
design and installation for the application. A check of sources of commercial equipment shows that many
varieties of pumps and fans are available. Each of these has special characteristics that must be appreciated
for achieving proper function. Preliminary design criteria for choosing among different types are given
by Boehm [1987].
As is to be expected, wise applications of pumps and fans require knowledge of fluid flow fundamentals.
Unless the fluid mechanics of a particular application is understood, the design could be less than desirable.
In this chapter, pump and fan types are briefly defined. In addition, typical application information
is given. Also, some ideas from fluid mechanics that are especially relevant to pump and fan operation
are reviewed. For more details on this latter topic, see the chapter of this book that discusses fluid
mechanics fundamentals.

© 2005 by CRC Press LLC Page 2 Friday, May 7, 2004 3:56 PM

41-2 The Engineering Handbook, Second Edition

41.2 Pumps
Raising of water from wells and cisterns is the earliest form of pumping (a very detailed history of early
applications is given by Ewbank [1842]). Modern applications are much broader, and these find a wide
variety of machines in use. Modern pumps function on one of two principles. By far the majority of
pump installations are of the velocity head type. In these devices, the pressure rise is achieved by giving
the fluid movement. At the exit of the machine, this movement is translated into a pressure increase by
slowing down the fluid. The other major type of pump is called positive displacement. These devices are
designed to increase the pressure on the liquid while essentially trying to compress the volume. A
categorization of pump types (with the exception of vacuum pumps) has been given by Krutzsch [1986],
and an adaptation of this is shown below:

1. Velocity head
A. Centrifugal
i. Axial flow (single or multistage)
ii. Radial flow (single or double suction)
iii. Mixed flow (single or double suction)
iv. Peripheral (single or multistage)
B. Special effect
i. Gas lift
ii. Jet
iii. Hydraulic ram
iv. Electromagnetic
2. Positive displacement
A. Reciprocating
i. Piston, plunger
a. Direct acting (simplex or duplex)
b. Power (single or double acting, simplex, duplex, triplex, multiplex)
ii. Diaphragm (mechanically or fluid driven, simplex or multiplex)
B. Rotary
i. Single rotor (vane, piston, screw, flexible member, peristaltic)
ii. Multiple rotor (gear, lobe, screw, circumferential piston)

In the next sections, some of the more common pumps are described.

Centrifugal and Other Velocity-Head Pumps

Centrifugal pumps are used in more industrial applications than any other kind of pump. This is primarily
because these pumps offer low initial and upkeep costs. Traditionally, pumps of this type have been
limited to low-pressure-head applications, but modern pump designs have overcome this problem unless
very high pressures are required. Some of the other good characteristics of these types of devices include
smooth (nonpulsating) flow and the ability to tolerate nonflow conditions.
The most important parts of the centrifugal pump are the impeller and volute. An impeller can take
on many forms, ranging from essentially a spinning disc to designs with elaborate vanes. The latter is
usual. Impeller design tends to be unique to each manufacturer; a variety of designs are used for a range
of applications. An example of an impeller is shown in Figure 41.1. This device imparts a radial velocity
to the fluid that has entered the pump perpendicular to the impeller. The volute (there may be one or
more) performs the function of slowing the fluid and increasing the pressure. A good discussion of
centrifugal pumps is given by Lobanoff and Ross [1992].
The design of a pump and its performance are dependent upon a number of applicable variables.
While these will be noted in more detail below, they include the pump operating speed, the flow rate,

© 2005 by CRC Press LLC Page 3 Friday, May 7, 2004 3:56 PM

Pumps and Fans 41-3


Volute 1

Volute 2

FIGURE 41.1 A schematic of a centrifugal pump is shown. The liquid enters perpendicular to the figure, and a
radial velocity is imparted by clockwise spin of the impeller.

and the developed head. Pump engineers generally combine these variables together into a parameter
called the specific speed, Ns. This is given as

Ns = Q0.5N/H0.75

where Q = volume rate of flow, gpm; N = operating speed of pump, rpm; and H = pump head, ft.
Historically, the efficiency is related to this parameter in a general way, showing a maximum efficiency
of over 90% at a specific speed of about 2500 and very high flow rates [Yedidiah, 1996]. For lower flows,
the maximum efficiency is decreased and occurs at smaller values of Ns. Rishel [2000] reported on the
results of a study of actual installations of “wire-to-water” efficiencies for pumps. These ranged from
20% for small systems (20 gpm) to 84% for systems at 2000 gpm. The head was varied in the study. A
plot of the data he cited is given as Figure 41.2.
An important factor in the specification of a centrifugal pump is the casing orientation and type. For
example, the pump can be oriented vertically or horizontally. Horizontal mounting is most common.
Vertical pumps usually offer benefits related to ease of priming and reduction in required NPSH (see
discussion below). This type also requires less floor space. Submersible and immersible pumps are always
of the vertical type. Another design factor is the way the casing is split, and this has implications for ease
of manufacture and repair. Casings that are split perpendicular to the shaft are called radially split, while
those split parallel to the shaft axis are denoted as axially split. The latter can be horizontally split or
vertically split. The number of stages in the pump greatly affects the pump-output characteristics. Several
stages can be incorporated into the same casing, with an associated increase in pump output. Multistage
pumps are often used for applications with total developed head over (about) 50 atm.
Whether or not a pump is self-priming can be important. By this it is meant that the impeller of the
pump must be immersed in the fluid to be pumped. In general, a centrifugal pump cannot begin pumping

Wire-to-Water Efficiency, %

120 ft
110 ft
60 ft
10 ft Data of Rischel [2000]
10 100 1000 10000

FIGURE 41.2 “Wire-to-water” efficiencies for centrifugal pumps are given based upon the data of Rishel [2000].
The head varies throughout the data within the range shown.

© 2005 by CRC Press LLC Page 4 Friday, May 7, 2004 3:56 PM

41-4 The Engineering Handbook, Second Edition

unless it is primed. If a centrifugal pump is filled with air when it is turned on, the initiation of pumping
action may not be sufficient to bring the fluid into the pump. Pumps can be specified with features that
minimize priming problems.
Although not only applicable to centrifugal pumps, a major application here is the use of a variable
speed drive (VSD). In many situations, the design condition is not the only one at which the pump may
have to operate. For example, if the flow decreases for some reason, the head would go up, and vice
versa. This may cause problems with the particular pump installation. A VSD will allow these situations,
as well as part load operation, to be accommodated. Without VSD, this would have been accomplished
by mechanical devices to throttle the flow, for example. A VSD can greatly enhance the system opera-
tional efficiency.
There are other types of velocity-head pumps. Gas lifts accomplish a pumping action by a drag on gas
bubbles that rise through a liquid.
Jet pumps (eductors) increase pressure by imparting momentum from a high-velocity liquid stream
to a low-velocity or stagnant body of liquid. The resulting flow then goes through a diffuser to achieve
an overall pressure increase. Related designs that use a gas or a vapor to impart the momentum are called
jet ejectors. An excellent summary of these types of devices has been given by Power [1994]. In all cases
where eductors or ejectors are used, a separate high-pressure fluid stream needs to be available to power
the device.

Positive-Displacement Pumps
Positive-displacement pumps demonstrate high discharge pressures and low flow rates. Usually this is
accomplished by some type of pulsating action. A piston pump is a classical example of a positive-
displacement machine. Rotary pumps are one type of positive displacement device that does not impart
pulsations to the exiting flow (a full description of these types of pumps is given by Turton [1994]).
Several techniques are available for dealing with pulsating flows, including use of double-acting pumps
(usually of the reciprocating type) and installation of pulsation dampeners.
Positive displacement pumps usually require special seals to contain the fluid. Costs are higher both
initially and for maintenance compared to most pumps that operate on the velocity-head basis. Positive-
displacement pumps demonstrate an efficiency that is nearly independent of flow rate, in contrast to the
velocity-head type.
Reciprocating pumps offer very high efficiencies, reaching 90% in larger sizes. These types of pumps
are more appropriate for pumping abrasive liquids (e.g., slurries) than are centrifugal pumps.
Piston pumps are commonly applied positive-displacement devices. The piston-cylinder arrangement
is one that is familiar to most people who have ever used pumps. These pumps can be single acting or
double acting. In the latter classification, the design is such that pumping takes place on both sides of the
piston. Many application engineers recommend a maximum duty pressure of about 2000 psi. Higher
pressures can be handled by a plunger-rod pump, where a plunger rod moves inside a pipe of the same
diameter. Because fluctuations are inherent in most positive displacement devices, a pulsation dampener
may have to be used [Vandall and Foerg, 1993].
A characteristic of positive displacement pumps that may be of value is that the output flow is
proportional to pump speed. This allows this type of pump to be used for metering applications. Also,
a positive aspect of these pumps is that they are self-priming, except at initial startup.
Very high head pressures (often damaging to the pump) can be developed in positive displacement
pumps if the downstream flow is blocked. For this reason, a pressure-relief-valve bypass must always be
used with positive displacement pumps. Some designers recommend a bypass even for centrifugal pumps.

Selecting a Pump Based upon Flow Considerations

Performance characteristics of the pump must be considered in system design. Simple diagrams of pump
applications are shown in Figure 41.3. First consider the left-hand figure. This represents a flow circuit,

© 2005 by CRC Press LLC Page 5 Friday, May 7, 2004 3:56 PM

Pumps and Fans 41-5

Drop Pump Flow
Drop 2
Flow Drop 1

FIGURE 41.3 Typical pump applications, either in circuits or once-through arrangements, can be represented as
combined fluid resistances as shown. The resistances are determined from fluid mechanics analyses.

and the pressure drops related to the piping, fittings, valves, and any other flow devices found in the
circuit must be estimated using laws of fluid mechanics. Usually these resistances (pressure drops) are
found to vary approximately with the square of the liquid flow rate.
Most pumps demonstrate a flow vs. pressure rise variation that is a positive value at zero flow and
decreases to zero head at some larger flow. A variation typical of centrifugal pumps is shown on the left-
hand side of Figure 41.4. One exception to this, and it is an important one related to these types of
pumps, is the so-called “drooping head” behavior. In this situation, the head at zero flow is less than the
heads that are achieved at small positive flows. This phenomenon is a result of high-efficiency design,
and it is described in some detail by Paugh [1994].
Positive displacement pumps, as shown on the right-hand side of Figure 41.4, are an exception to this
characteristic behavior in that these devices usually cannot tolerate a zero flow. An important aspect to
note is that a closed system can presumably be pressurized by the pump to the detriment of the system
and the pump.
The piping diagram shown on the right-hand side of Figure 41.3 is a once-through system, another
frequently encountered installation. However, the leg of piping through “pressure drop 1” shown there
can have some very important implications related to net positive suction head, often denoted as NPSH.
In simple terms, NPSH indicates the difference between the local pressure and the thermodynamic
saturation pressure at the fluid temperature. If NPSH = 0, the liquid can vaporize, and this can result in
a variety of outcomes from noisy pump operation to outright failure of components. This condition is
called cavitation, and it must be eliminated by proper design.
Cavitation, if it occurs, will first take place at the lowest pressure point within the piping arrangement.
Often this point is located at, or inside, the inlet to the pump. Most manufacturers specify how much
NPSH is required for satisfactory operation of their pumps. Hence, the actual NPSH (often times denoted
as NPSHA) experienced by the pump must be larger than the manufacturer’s required NPSH (which
may be called NPSHR).
If a design indicates insufficient NPSH, changes should be made in the system, possibly including
alternative piping layout. This might include lowering the pump location relative to the feed, changing
sizes of the inlet piping and fittings, or slowing of the pump speed. Some pumps have smaller NPSH

∆p ∆p Pump
Piping Piping
Output Circuit
Pump Output Circuit
(+) (−)
(+) (−)

Point Operating

Flow Flow

FIGURE 41.4 An overlay of the pump flow vs. head curve with the circuit piping characteristics gives the operating
state of the circuit. A typical velocity–head pump characteristic is shown on the left, while a positive-displacement
pump curve is shown on the right.

© 2005 by CRC Press LLC Page 6 Friday, May 7, 2004 3:56 PM

41-6 The Engineering Handbook, Second Edition



1 12 × 2−10 2 12 × 3−10
3500 RPM 3500 RPM


4 × 6−16 (L)
2 12 × 3−8 1750 RPM
3500 RPM
3 × 4−8
2 12 × 3−13 3500 RPM 3 × 4−10
3500 RPM
1750 RPM
4 × 5−8
3500 RPM 8 × 10 −13 (L)
100 3 × 4−13 1750 RPM
2 12 × 3−10 1750 RPM 4 × 6−13
1 12 × 2−10 1750 RPM 1750 RPM 6 × 8−13 (L)
2 12 × 3−8 3 × 4−10 1750 RPM
1750 RPM 1750 RPM 4 × 6−10
3 × 4−8 1750 RPM
1750 RPM 3500 RPM 4 × 5−8
1750 RPM

10 20 30 40 100 200 300 400 600 800 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000

FIGURE 41.5 When selecting a pump for a given application, the starting point is a performance coverage map.
From this, the model required to achieve a given performance can be selected. (Compliments of Goulds Pumps.)

requirements than others, and this might be a result of adding inducers to the inlet. Sometimes it is
possible to cool the pump inlet fluid and this will increase the NPSHA. More extreme solutions could
find a smaller pump installed prior to the inlet of the main pump whose purpose is to increase the
NPSHA of the latter. Of course, if a pump is fed from a tank and vortices form there at typical flow
conditions, this could greatly decrease the NPSHA beyond what would appear to be present.
Fluid properties can have a major impact on the choice of pump. One variable of concern is viscosity.
This property can have high or extremely variable values in a given circuit. At the minimum, increases
in viscosity will require more pumping power. But the value of the viscosity may influence the type of
pump used. For viscosities up to slightly over 3000 cP, centrifugal pumps will work quite well. Rotary
pumps can handle the less frequently encountered situations with considerably higher viscosities.
The manufacturer should be consulted for a map of operational information for a given pump. A
typical set of these is shown in Figure 41.5 through Figure 41.7. This information will allow the designer
to select a pump that satisfies the circuit operational requirements while meeting the necessary NPSH
and most efficient operation criteria.
First consider Figure 41.5. This gives a map of overall performance for a given family of pumps. The
specific operational ranges for each model with the family are shown. This range is due to use of various
impeller sizes, pump speeds, and other design parameters in a particular configuration.
Once the general design conditions are located on the overall performance map, these will generally
indicate a particular model for the application. This can then be used to determine the performance of
the specific model. For example, if the design conditions had fallen in the range of model 1 1/2–2 – 10
3500 rpm, the details of this one would be examined. See Figure 41.6. Note the following generally typical
characteristics of centrifugal pumps. The produced head decreases with increasing flow over the specific
range for this pump. Larger diameter impellers are required to move to higher-level curves, and these
conditions are associated with higher power requirements. NPSH requirements increase generally with
increasing flow. Sometimes, manufacturers give this information as a simple function of flow, or this can
be specified in more definitive terms as shown in Figure 41.6. Pumping efficiency curves are also shown.
It is desirable to operate near the maximum values of efficiency if that can be accommodated between
the design requirements and the characteristics of the specific pumps. This is a lower-flow pump, and,

© 2005 by CRC Press LLC Page 7 Friday, May 7, 2004 3:56 PM

Pumps and Fans 41-7

Model 8AI/BF/Size (Taman~o) 11/2 × 2 − 10 NOTE: Not recommended for operation beyond
printed H-Q curve.
METERS FEET RPM 3500 Curve (Curva) CN0207R00 NOTA: No se recomienda para funcionamiento superior al
METROS PIES IMP. DWG. No. 114-52/59023 impreso en la curva H-Q.
A 101/16" DIA. 40 12'
500 45 50
48 52 1.0 SF
140 B 95/8"
1.15 SF

C 93/16" 16'
120 52
D 83/8"
100 45% EFF
300 E 73/4"

F 71/4"
80 −4
G 7" 0

H 63/4" −3
60 200 0
Impeller Selection Key HP
40 : Indicates stock pump impeller diameter for motor RPM and HP per price page.
15 HP
100 May utilize 1.15 motor service factor, For non-overloading at 1.0.S.F. select Option diameter.
: Indicates optional diameter. See price list for ordering.
Clave de selección del impulsor
20 : Indica el diámetro de impulsor de bomba en stock para los HP y RPM del motor por
página de precios. Puede utilizar factor de servicio 1.15. Para no sobrecargar a factor de servico
1.0 seleccione diámetro Opcional.
: Indica diámetro opcional, Consulte la lista de precios para efectuar pedidos.

0 0
0 50 100 150 200 250 U.S. GPM 300

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 m3/hr

FIGURE 41.6 Once the particular model of pump is determined (see Figure 41.5), the actual performance of that
model can be examined from a plot of this type. This is given here for a particular speed. (Compliments of Goulds

Model 3656/3756 M-Group Variable Speed Note: Not recommended for operation beyond
~ a) 11/ × 2 − 10 printed H-Q Curve.

Size (Taman 2 (Velocidad variable)


NOTA : No se recomienda para funcionamiento

PIES 101/16 Dia. Impeller (Diá. Impulsor ) Curve (Curva) CN0453R01 superior al impreso en la curva H-Q

400 3600 RPM (MAXIMUM) 30% EFF. 0
35 40
3200 RPM
3000 RPM 50

2800 RPM
300 45

2600 RPM

2400 RPM


2200 RPM

2000 RPM

1800 RPM

100 1600 RPM


0 25 50 75 100 125 150 175 200

FIGURE 41.7 Impeller speed for a given model will have an impact on the pump performance (compare to Figure
41.6). (Compliments of Goulds Pumps.)

© 2005 by CRC Press LLC Page 8 Friday, May 7, 2004 3:56 PM

41-8 The Engineering Handbook, Second Edition

Composite of
Composite of
Two Pumps
Two Pumps


Single Pump Pump

Flow Flow
(a) Series Operation (b) Parallel Operation

FIGURE 41.8 Series and parallel operation of centrifugal pumps is possible. The resultant characteristics for two
identical pumps are shown.

as was shown in Figure 41.2, this one demonstrates lower efficiencies than some larger units would be
able to furnish within the same family of pumps.
Finally, consider Figure 41.7. This shows the impact of drive speed on the operation of the pump.
Where Figure 41.6 was developed for a single speed, Figure 41.7 shows the effects of various speeds. Here
the NPSH is shown as a simple function increasing with flow rate.
Several options are available to the designer for combining pumps in systems. Consider a comparison
of the net effect between operating pumps in series or operating the same two pumps in parallel. Examples
of this for pumps with characteristics like centrifugal units are shown in Figure 41.8. It is clear that one
way to achieve high pumping pressures with centrifugal pumps is to place a number of units in series.
This is a related effect to what is found in multistage designs.

41.3 Vacuum Pumps

When pressures significantly below atmospheric are required, a vacuum pump should be applied. In fact,
vacuum is defined as being a pressure below the surrounding atmosphere. These pumps are often used
to remove a vapor or a gas from within a volume of interest. If most of the vapor or gas is removed, this
is often called a “hard” or “high” vacuum.
Even though the pressure differential across a vacuum pump is typically less than 1 atm, the small value
of pressure at the inlet to the pump complicates the performance of the device. A resulting high-pressure
ratio usually exists across a vacuum pump. Because of this factor, as well as the characteristics of gases
and vapors as they become rarefied, a large amount of vacuum is usually accomplished by use of a sequence
of vacuum pumps. To see how this is achieved, consider the general types of vacuum pumps available.
At coarse vacuums (not large pressure differences from atmospheric) a mechanical pump or blower
might be used. These have designs that are very much like the other pump and fan systems discussed in
this chapter.
At higher vacuums, a vapor jet (or diffusion) pump may find a cost-effective application. The basic
idea behind this approach is a concept illuminated by kinetic theory: gases can be pumped by the
molecular drag effect. A separate pumping fluid is used to remove the vapor/gas of interest. Devices built
on this concept demonstrate high pumping speeds at low pressures.
Similar levels of vacuums as achieved by the diffusion pumps are also reached by turbo pumps. These
latter devices use high-speed rotating machinery in several stages to accomplish the necessary evacuation.
Ion-getter and sputter-ion pumps are used for high- and ultrahigh-vacuum situations. In this approach,
gettering is used, which denotes a concept where there is a chemical combination between a surface and
the pumped gas. While many types of gettering materials are available, a commonly used one is titanium.
When chemically active gas atoms strike a getter surface, stable, solid compounds are formed there.
To achieve high- or ultrahigh-vacuums, a series of these pumps might be used. At moderate vacuums,
a roughing pump is a good choice. As the absolute pressure decreases, then a switch is made to another
type of pump, say a cryopump or a diffusion pump. Finally, the very small pressures can then be reached

© 2005 by CRC Press LLC Page 9 Friday, May 7, 2004 3:56 PM

Pumps and Fans 41-9

Ion Pumps Mech Blowers Mech Pumps


Cost $/l/s

Diffusion Pumps

Cryo and Turbo Pumps


10−12 10−9 10−6 10−3 1 103

Pressure, torr

FIGURE 41.9 Approximate operational ranges where various types of vacuum pumps are most cost effective (in
1985 prices). Adapted from Hablanian, M., 1997. High-Vacuum Technology — A Practical Guide, 2nd ed., Marcel
Dekker, New York.

using a getter or ion pump. Approximate ranges for each of these pumps are shown in Figure 41.9. Figure
41.10 shows the performance range of various types of coarse vacuum pumps. These figures were
developed from information given by Hablanian [1997]. This text is an excellent source of information
on all of these types of devices.

1000 Piston

Approximate Compression Ratio

100 Diaphragm


3-Lobe Roots

Hook & Claw 2-Lobe Roots


1 10 100 1000 10,000 100,000
Approximate Flow Rate, l/s

FIGURE 41.10 The operational ranges of coarse vacuum pumps are shown. Adapted from Hablanian, M., 1997.
High-Vacuum Technology — A Practical Guide, 2nd ed., Marcel Dekker, New York.

© 2005 by CRC Press LLC Page 10 Friday, May 7, 2004 3:56 PM

41-10 The Engineering Handbook, Second Edition

∆P, Total



Volume Flow

FIGURE 41.11 Shown are characteristics of a centrifugal fan. The drawbacks to operating away from optimal
conditions are obvious from the efficiency variation.

41.4 Fans
As noted earlier, fans are devices that cause air to move. This definition is broad and can include a
flapping palm branch, but the discussion here deals only with devices that impart air movement due to
rotation of an impeller inside a fixed casing. In spite of this limiting definition, it includes a large variety
of commercial designs.
Fans find application in many engineering systems. Along with chillers and boilers, they are the heart
of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. When large physical dimensions of a unit
are not a design concern (usually the case), centrifugal fans are favored over axial flow units for HVAC
applications. Many types of fans are found in power plants [Stultz and Kitto, 1992]. Very large fans are
used to furnish air to the boiler as well to draw or force air through cooling towers and pollution control
equipment. Electronic cooling finds applications for small units. Automobiles have several fans in them.
Because of the great engineering importance of fans, several organizations publish rating and testing
criteria (see, for example, [ASME, 1995]).
Generally, fans are classified according to how the air flows through the impeller. These flows may be
axial (essentially a propeller in a duct), radial (conceptually much like the centrifugal pumps discussed
earlier), mixed, and cross. While there are many other fan designations, all industrial units fall into one
of these classifications. Mixed-flow fans are so named because both axial and radial flow occurs on the
vanes. Casings for these devices are essentially like those for axial flow machines, but the inlet has a radial
flow component. On cross-flow impellers, the gas traverses the blading twice.
Generic characteristics of fans are shown in Figure 41.11. Since velocities can be high in fans, often
both the total and the static pressure increases are considered. While both are not shown on this figure,
the curves have similar variations. Of course the total DP is greater than the static value; the difference
is the velocity head. This difference increases as the volume flow increases. At zero flow (the shut-off
point), the static and total pressure difference values are the same. Efficiency variation shows a sharp
optimum value at the design point. For this reason, it is critical that fan designs be carefully tuned to
the required conditions.
A variety of vane types are found on fans, and the type of these is also used for fan classification. Axial
fans usually have vanes of airfoil shape or vanes of uniform thickness. Some vane types that might be
found on a centrifugal (radial flow) fan are shown in Figure 41.12.
One aspect that is an issue in choosing fans for a particular application is fan efficiency. Typical
efficiency comparisons of the effect of blade type on a centrifugal fan are shown in Figure 41.13. Since
velocities can be high, the value of aerodynamic design is clear. Weighing against this is increased cost.

© 2005 by CRC Press LLC Page 11 Friday, May 7, 2004 3:56 PM

Pumps and Fans 41-11

Some possible vane

Impeller types are shown below
Backward inclined Airfoil
(Shown on impeller)

Backward curved Tubular

Forward curved Forward

Radial tip or
Forward curved Volume Flow

FIGURE 41.12 A variety of vane types that might be used on a centrifugal FIGURE 41.13 Efficiency variations
fan are shown. with volume flow of centrifugal fans
for a variety of vane types are shown.

An additional aspect that may be important in the choice of fans is noise generation. This may be
most critical in HVAC applications. It is difficult to describe noise characteristics in brief terms because
of the frequency-dependent nature of these phenomena. However, a comparison of specific sound power
level (usually denoted by Kw) shows that backward-curved centrifugal fans with aerodynamic blades
perform among the best designs. Details of noise characteristics are given elsewhere [ASHRAE, 1999].
While each type of fan has some specific qualities for certain applications, most installations use
centrifugal (radial flow) fans. A primary exception is for very-high-flow, low-pressure-rise situations
where axial (propeller) fans are used.
Similarities exist between fans and pumps because the fluid density essentially does not vary through
either type of machine. Of course, in pumps this is because a liquid can be assumed to be incompressible.
In fans, a gas (typically air) is moved with little pressure change. As a result, the gas density can be taken
to be constant. Since most fans operate near atmospheric pressure, the ideal gas assumptions can be used
in determining gas properties.
Flow control in fan applications, where needed, is a very important design concern. Methods for
accomplishing this involve use of dampers (either on the inlet or on the outlet of the fan), variable
pitch vanes, or variable speed control. Dampers are the least expensive to install but also the most
inefficient in terms of energy use. Modern solid-state control for providing a variable frequency power
to the drive motor is becoming the preferred control method, when a combination of initial and
operating costs are considered.

ASHRAE, 1999. ASHRAE Handbook 1999, HVAC Applications, American Society of Heating, Refrigerat-
ing, and Air Conditioning Engineers, Atlanta, Chapter 42.
ASME, 1995. ASME Performance Test Codes, Code on Fans, ASME PTC 11-1984 (reaffirmed 1995),
American Society of Mechanical Engineers, New York.
Boehm, R. F., 1987. Design Analysis of Thermal Systems, John Wiley & Sons, New York, pp. 17–26.
Ewbank, T., 1842. A Description and Historical Account of Hydraulic and Other Machines for Raising Water,
2nd ed., Greeley and McElrath, New York.
Hablanian, M., 1997. High-Vacuum Technology — A Practical Guide, 2nd ed., Marcel Dekker, New York.
Krutzsch, W. C., 1986, Introduction: classification and selection of pumps, Chapter 1 in Pump Handbook,
2nd ed. (ed. I. Karassik et al.), McGraw-Hill, New York.
Lobanoff, V. and Ross, R., 1992. Centrifugal Pumps: Design and Application, 2nd ed., Gulf Publishing
Company, Houston.

© 2005 by CRC Press LLC Page 12 Friday, May 7, 2004 3:56 PM

41-12 The Engineering Handbook, Second Edition

Paugh, J. J., 1994. Head vs. capacity characteristics of centrifugal pumps, in Fluid Movers, Second Edition,
(edited by N. P. Chopey), Chemical Engineering/McGraw Hill, New York, pp. 123-125.
Power, R. B., 1994. Steam Jet Ejectors for the Process Industries, McGraw Hill, New York.
Rishel, J. B., 2000. Forty years of fiddling with pumps, ASHRAE Journal, March, p. 48.
Stultz, S. C., and Kitto, J. B., 1992. Fans, in Steam — Its Generation and Use, Babcock & Wilcox, Barberton,
OH, pp. 23-16 to 23-25.
Turton, R. K., 1994. Rotodynamic Pump Design, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.
Vandell, C. and Foerg, W., 1993. The pluses of positive displacement, Chemical Engineering, January, pp.
Yedidiah, S., 1996. Centrifugal Pump User’s Guidebook — Problems and Solutions, Chapman and Hall,
New York, p. 27.

© 2005 by CRC Press LLC