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- HOW TO AVOID CAVITATION? CAVITATION CAN BE AVOIDED IF THE N.P.S.H. AVAILABLE IS LARGER THAN THE N.P.S.H. REQUIRED. Net Positive Suction Head Available (N.P.S.H.A.) The Net Positive Suction Head Available (N.P.S.H.A.) is the total energy per unit weight, or head, at the suction flange of the pump less the vapor pressure head of the fluid. This is the accepted definition which is published by the Hydraulic Institute’s Standards books (see the HI web site at www.pumps.org). The Hydraulic Institute is the organization that formulates and promotes the use of common standards used throughout the pump industry in the United States. The term "Net" refers to the actual head at the pump suction flange, since some energy is lost in friction prior to the suction. Why do we need to calculate the N.P.S.H.A.? This value is required to avoid cavitation of the fluid. Cavitation will be avoided if the head at the suction is higher than the vapor pressure head of the fluid. In addition, the pump manufacturers require a minimum N.P.S.H. to guarantee proper operation of the pump, they call this the N.P.S.H.R., where “R” stands for required. To determine N.P.S.H.A., first we calculate the pressure head HS at point S. A control volume is positioned (see Figure 4) to intersect the suction inlet of the pump and the fluid surface of the suction tank. The pressure head at any point on the suction side of the pump is given by equation [1]: [1]

Figure 4: Using the control volume for calculating the pressures head at point S.

The specific energy or head

for any point in the system is the sum of the elevation is given

(potential) energy, the velocity (kinetic) energy and the pressure energy. by:

or energy per pound of fluid.) is the difference between the head ( the vapor pressure head (Hva). This means that the fluid The head could have any specific gravity. The Net Positive Suction Head Available (N.P.P.H available at the pump suction (point S) is based on a reference plane located at the pump suction centerline (zS = 0 ). If the tank is not pressurized then H1 = 0.S. the head at the inlet of the pump must be above the vapor pressure head of the fluid: where Hva is the vapor pressure head of the liquid.A. the N.[2] By definition. ) at the pump suction and [7] By substituting the value of from equation [6] into equation [7] then: . Therefore equation [4] [5] HS to convert becomes: The value of HS in equation [1] is substituted in equation [5] to give: [6] is in feet of fluid.S.H. the atmospheric pressure head (HA) is added to from feet of fluid to feet of fluid absolute. We can understand why since using any other reference will increase or decrease the energy level at point S which is obviously incorrect (see Figure 4). Therefore equation [2] becomes: [3] And since zS = 0 then: [4] The head is given in equation [4]. In order for the liquid to stay in a fluid state and not vaporize.

H.P. Net Positive Suction Head Required (N.S. impeller diameter.H. value they provide is in feet of water absolute. In order to satisfy the pump manufacturer's requirements: Figure 5 shows typical relative proportions of the terms in equation [8].S.P.S. required.H.P.P. required provides us with the level of head in terms of feet of water absolute required at the pump suction flange. . Figure 5: Relative size of N. which the pump manufacturer gives for a specific pump model. components. When that level of head is insufficient the capacity and head of the pump will drop and cavitation will occur.S. Vapor and atmospheric pressures are often given in pounds per square inch absolute (psia).) The N. Since the pump manufacturers use water as the fluid. which is independent of fluid density.S.H. The conversion to feet of fluid absolute is: by substitution into equation [8]: [9] The N.H. in equation [8] and [9] is in feet of fluid absolute and is a head term.P. speed and flow rate.R.P. the N.S.H.[8] where HA and Hva are in feet of fluid. The pump requires a minimum suction pressure head in order to function properly and avoid cavitation. This is known as the N.

. . as needed. a vacuum pump is used to lower the pressure in the suction tank which will provide a low head at the pump suction. The recommendation that you will find in the literature is to have 5 ft of water absolute or a 15% margin above the N.P.H.P.H.S. available.H required? The pump manufacturers measure the N.S. Heating coils are also used which increase the water temperature thereby increasing the vapor pressure and further lowering the N.H. required (courtesy of the Hydraulic Institute).S.H. Guideline for the level of N. is calculated and recorded as the N. available.H.H.S.H. The pressure in the suction tank is lowered until a drop of 3% of the total head is measured. required for that operating point.H. available As stated.S.P.S.P.P.S.P.P.S.S. a total head drop of 3% is the criteria for setting the level of N.S.H. total head and power consumed is measured.P. When that occurs the N.H. Figure 7: Location of the pressure gauges to measure N. The system is run in a closed loop where flow. Since this results in a performance drop then the user should ensure that there is a higher N. In order to provide a low N. Figure 6 Test rig used to measure N.S.P.P. required in a test rig similar to that shown in Figure 6. required.How do the pump manufacturers measure N.P.S.H.P.

2.P.P.S.S. the lower respect to the pump suction the N. available depends on: 1. 3.H. The lower the atmospheric pressure.H.P. Figure 8: Location of the pressure gauges to measure N. The pressure in the suction tank This cannot be changed for atmospheric tanks.P.S.S. available and how they affect the level of N. This cannot be changed. as in Figure 8. The higher the friction loss. available.P. For tanks that are pressurized. available.S. the NPSH available is the specific energy or head at the pump suction in terms of feet of fluid absolute.S.S. Here’s how it’s done.S.H.P.S.S. the lower the pressure. The friction loss in the pump suction line Effect on N.H.H. the lower the N.P. available.P. available? It could be allot easier to measure N. How can the N.S. The height of the suction tank fluid surface with The lower the height of the fluid surface.P.P.P.P.H.P. The N. available than to calculate it. An increase in fluid temperature.H.H.A. the lower the N. then the head at point S is (see equation [4]): [10] The value of HS is given by equation [1] and by substitution into [10] we obtain: . increases the vapor pressure of the fluid which decreases the N. available. How can you measure N.H.H.S.H. the lower the N. available be increased and cavitation avoided Table 1 gives the major components of N.H. How to affect the N.S. 4.required whichever is greatest. Fluid temperature Table 1. available. available.H. The atmospheric pressure 5. minus the vapor pressure of the fluid. If there is a pressure gauge on the suction side of the pump.S.P.H. By definition.

Why is the velocity head required in equation [14].P.P. available. the result of this measurement includes the friction losses and the elevation difference since it is these energy sources which produce the pressure energy that is measured. In equation [9] the velocity energy was considered but cancels out during the development of the equation so that it does not appear in equation [9].P.S.H.S. When we measure the pressure. is in feet of fluid absolute.S.A.S.P.H. then: [14] What is the difference between the N. the value of the barometric pressure head must be added to N.H. but not in equation [9]? Because the velocity head is an important energy source that is not included in the pressure measurement. of equation [9] which is restated here below: The main difference is that we are measuring the pressure at the suction instead of calculating it.17 ft/s2 energy specific energy or head H DHP head Total Head Imperial system (FPS units) ft/s2 (feet/second squared) Btu (British Thermal Unit) Btu/lbm ft (feet) ft ft Metric system (SI units) m/s2 (meter/second squared) kJ (kiloJoule) kJ/kg m (meter) m m DHEQ equipment head difference . When calculating the pressure we have to take into account the friction loss between points 1 and S as well as the elevation difference.A. and the vapor pressure of the liquid (Hva) is subtracted to get the [12] By substituting equation [11] into [12] we obtain: [13] Or if the barometric and vapor pressure heads are available in terms of pressure. Symbols Variable nomenclature g acceleration due to gravity: 32.[11] Since N. of equation [14] vs the N.H.

fluidedesign. .com.com) All rights reserved. ratio of the fluid density to the density of water at standard conditions temperature velocity vertical position ft psi (pound per square inch) non-dimensional °F (degrees Fahrenheit) ft/s ft m kPa (kiloPascal) T v z °C (degrees Celsius) m/s m To learn more about this topic. The following article was authored by Jacques Chaurette. (www. email your comments to jchaurette@fluidedesign. Inc. President Fluide Design.DHF p SG friction head difference pressure specific gravity.

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