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Calculating the Pump Head Before we can discuss pump head, we must understand the difference between an open

hydraulic system and a closed hydraulic system. It is important to know whether the pump serves an open or a closed system, because the pump head calculation depends on the type of system that the pump serves. In a closed system, the fluid is not exposed to a break in the piping system that interrupts forced flow at any point. In an open system, it is. In a closed system, the fluid travels through a continuous closed piping system that starts and ends in the same place--- there is no break in the piping loop. The vast majority of hydraulic piping systems are closed. The most common open system is the cooling tower portion of a chilled water system, as depicted below. A break in the piping system occurs where the water exits the spray nozzles, and is exposed to air in the fill section of the tower. The water collects in the cooling tower sump before being pumped around the loop again. Note that the chilled water side of this diagram (the right side) is closed. Because it is closed, an expansion tank absorbs any thermal expansion of the fluid. Open systems dont require expansion tanks, as the fluid is naturally free to undergo thermal expansion.

Figure 1: Closed and Open Hydronic Systems

What is Pump Head?

Units of Measure: In the U.S. system, head is measured either in PSI or in "feet of head" (usually abbreviated to "feet"). Pump Head is the total resistance that a pump must overcome. It consists of the following components: Static Head: Static head represents the net change in height, in feet, that the pump must overcome. It applies only in open systems. Note that in a closed loop system, the static head is zero because the fluid on one side of the system pushes the fluid up the other side of the system, so the pump does not need to overcome any elevation.

Friction Head: This is also called pressure drop. When fluid flows through any system component, friction results. This causes a loss in pressure. Components causing friction include boilers, chillers, piping, heat exchangers, coils, valves, and fittings. The pump must overcome this friction. Friction head is usually expressed in units called "feet of head." A foot of friction head is equal to lifting the fluid one foot of static height. Pressure Head: When liquid is pumped from a vessel at one pressure to a vessel at another pressure, pressure head exists. Common applications include condensate pumps and boiler feed pumps. Condensate pumps often deliver water from an atmospheric receiver to a DE aerator operating at 5 PSIG, meaning that in addition to the other heads, the pump must overcome a pressure head of 5 PSIG. One PSIG equals 2.31 feet, so the differential head in this application is 5 X 2.31 = 11.6. Pressure head is a consideration only in some open systems. Velocity Head: Accelerating water from a standstill or low velocity at the starting point to a higher velocity at an ending point requires energy. In closed systems the starting point is the same as the ending point. Therefore the beginning velocity equals the final velocity, so velocity head is not a consideration. In an open system, the velocity head is theoretically a consideration, but the pipeline velocities used in hydraulics are so low that this head is negligible, and is ignored. (Note that the velocity head is defined by the formula V2/2g where V is the fluid velocity in feet per second and g is the gravitational constant 32 feet/second 2. Therefore at typical velocities of 2-6 fps, the velocity head is a fraction of a foot. Since head loss calculations are really estimates, this small figure becomes insignificant)


The energy that the pump imparts to the liquid, the

total dynamic head, TDH, takes into account differences in pressure, liquid elevation and velocity between the source and destination. In addition, TDH accounts for line (friction) losses and the pressure drop through the instruments and other items in the flow path of the liquid. There is an advantage to measuring the energy of a pump as head, rather than pressure. The head applies to any liquid that is pumped at the same rated capacity and speed, as long as the viscosity is low (generally, less than 10 cP). The head produced by a pump will remain constant (at a given flowrate and speed), even though the pressure differential and power requirements vary. Eqs. 1 and 2 show that fluid properties have a significant impact on the head. In particular, as density and viscosity in-crease, so will the amount of work needed to drive the pump. This is why the process engineer must specify not only the normal values for density and viscosity, but also the maxi-mum values that the pump is likely to encounter during ex-treme situations, such as startup, shutdown or process upsets. Also, the engineer must determine the maximum operating temperature, and whether the fluid may contain suspended solids or dissolved gases. Further, the pump must be specified to avoid cavitation. Cavitation occurs when the suction pressure of the pumped fluid drops below its vapor pressure, leading to the formation of vapor bubbles. As the fluid becomes pressurized again in the pump, these bubbles implode, leading to pitting of the impeller and other pump components. In addition, since vapor has a lower density than liquid, cavitation leads to a reduction in the pump capacity and efficiency. CAVITATION Vaporization itself does not cause any damage. However, when the velocity is decreased and pressure increased, the vapor will evaporate and collapse. This has three undesirable effects: Erosion of vane surfaces, especially when pumping water-based liquids Increase of noise and vibration, resulting in shorter seal and bearing life Partially choking of the impeller passages, which reduces the pump performance and can lead to loss of total head in extreme cases. The Net Positive Suction Head Available (NPSHA) indicates how much the pump suction exceeds the liquid vapor pressure, and is a characteristic of the system design. The NPSH Required (NPSHR) is the pump suction needed to avoid cavitation, and is a characteristic of the pump design. The net positive suction head (NPSH) is a measure of the proximity of a liquid to its bubble point (or vapor pressure). The available NPSH (NPSHA, ft) is given by:

HOW TO increase NPSHA,

should it be at or below the NPSHR. Increasing the source pressure or reducing the fluid vapor pressure (by cooling) is rarely feasible. Therefore, there are two process variables re-maining that can be adjusted the static head and friction losses. Static head can be raised by three methods: 1. Raise the elevation of the source point. This may prove impossible in some cases (e.g., a tank that is set at grade). 2. Lower the elevation of the pump inlet. This is a less ap-pealing option because pumps are typically located just above ground level, and lowering the inlet may require the suction nozzle to be below grade. This usually results in a much more expensive pump. 3. Raise the level of fluid in the suction vessel. The ac-ceptability of this approach varies from company to com-pany and should not be used without first consulting com-pany procedures. Friction losses can be reduced either by increasing the di-ameter of the pump suction-piping and/or reducing the equiv-alent length of the suction line. In a grassroots plant, friction losses should already be minimal, so raising static head is more viable. Reducing friction loss is usually more appealing for suction lines in existing plants where throughput has been increased above the original nameplate capacity.

HOW TO reduce the NPSHR

of the pump, which include using a larger, slower-speed pump, a double-suction impeller, a larger impeller inlet (eye) area, an oversized pump and an inducer, which is a secondary impeller placed ahead of the primary impeller. CENTRIFUGAL PUMP How a centrifugal pump works A centrifugal pump is one of the simplest pieces of equipment in any process plant. Figure 8 shows how this type of pump operates: Liquid is forced into an impeller either by atmospheric pressure, or in case of a jet pump by artificial pressure. The vanes of impeller pass kinetic energy to the liquid, thereby causing the liquid to rotate. The liquid leaves the impeller at high velocity. The impeller is surrounded by a volute casing or in case of a turbine pumps a stationary diffuser ring. The volute or stationary diffuser ring converts the kinetic energy into pressure energy