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How to Read a Centrifugal Pump

Performance Curve

we will discuss How to read a centrifugal pump performance Curve. Before we start
first we will understand the basics of Centrifugal pump performance curve.

Understanding of centrifugal pump performance curve is very important for select a

proper pump for the required application. The centrifugal pump performance curve
consists of four set of curves.

1. Head Vs Flow Curve

2. Brake Power Vs Flow Curve
3. Efficiency Vs Flow Curve
4. NPSHr Vs Flow Curve

Centrifugal pump performance is represented by multiple

curves indicating either:

 Various impeller diameters at a constant speed.

 Various speeds with a constant impeller diameter.

In this article, we will see only various impeller diameters at a constant speed.

Head Vs Flow Curve (H/Q)

In this curve, the Head is on the vertical axis and Flow rate on the horizontal axis. With
an increase in pump flow rate, the head developed by the pump start decreases. The
pump develop maximum head at zero flow it is called shutoff point or shutoff head and
the corresponding pressure is called shutoff pressure. Normally the shutoff pressure is
1.25 time of pump discharge pressure.
The line continues to the right, with head reducing and flow increasing until the “end of
the curve” is reached, (this is often outside the recommended operating range of the
pump). Flow and head are linked, one cannot be changed without varying the other.
The relationship between them is locked until wear or blockages change the pump

Brake Power Vs Flow Curve (P/Q)

In this curve, the Break power is on the vertical axis and Flow rate on the horizontal
axis. As we seen from the curve, some braking power is required at zero flow rate, this
power is required to overcome the pump inertia and friction losses. From this curve, for
the required pump flow, the corresponding brake power is obtained.

Efficiency Vs Flow Curve (e/Q)

The efficiency curve is raising as flow rate increase (refer figure). Then the curve
reaches the maximum point and starts decreasing. The maximum point is called Best
Efficiency Point(BEP). It is always preferred to run the pump at best efficiency
point(BEP), but in the practical case, we are not able to match the required pump
operating point with pump BEP.

If the pump run at or near to BEP, not only we get higher efficiency and also the
vibration of the pump is minimum.

NPSH(r) Vs Flow Curve(N/Q)

NPSH needs two different sets of axes to describe it fully. The lower curve (ref. figure )
shows the NPSH(r) curve rises with increasing of flow rate. Note, however, that this
curve is not obtained directly from the H/Q test.

NPSH(r) value at pump rated point should be minimum of 1m less that NPSH
‘available’. It is called NPSH margin.

NPSHmargin = NPSH(a) – NPSH(r)

Normally NPSH test is carried out when the NPSH’margin’ less than 1 meter.

It is made up of four to five points, each point being obtained from a separate NPSH test
at a different constant flow. This is normally carried out after the above-mentioned tests.