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Suction Specific Speed (Part One)


Written by: Terry Henshaw, P.E.
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The Eighth in a Series

Normalizing NPSH

Our attempts to normalize or classify water turbine hydraulic performance culminated in 1915 with the development of the specific speed concept, which was later applied to centrifugal pumps (2). Because NPSH is not included in specific speed, however, attempts continued to understand and normalize this elusive characteristic. In 1922 (1), the Thoma-Moody parameter, Sigma, was introduced and defined as: Sigma = = NPSH/H (13-1)

where H is the total head of the first stage impeller. Sigma was widely accepted and used for a number of years, but it had a significant shortcoming, since the NPSHR of a pump is relatively independent of the head produced by the pump.

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In 1937, three engineers at Worthington-Karassik, Wislicenus and Watson-were assigned the task of developing a better concept than Sigma. Initially working independently, they joined forces. While discussing their problem over Saturday morning coffee in Karassik's kitchen, they developed the concept of Suction Specific Speed (3).

Definition of Suction Specific Speed

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Suction specific speed , like specific speed, is not a speed at all. It is an index number, or "yardstick." It is based on the NPSHR of a centrifugal pump, normally the 3 percent head drop NPSHR and normally at its best efficiency point (BEP). The equation for suction specific speed is the same as specific speed, except that NPSHR is substituted for head, as follows:

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S= Where (in U.S. units):

(13-2)

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S = Suction Specific Speed N = RPM of Pump Q = Pump Capacity*, GPM NPSHR = NPSH required by pump, feet *If the impeller is double suction, Q in the above equation is one-half the BEP capacity of the pump. This is a major difference from calculating specific speed, in which we use total pump capacity, whether the impeller is single suction or double suction. Normally calculated at the BEP The symbol Nss is often used in place of S for suction specific speed. The value of S for most pumps is typically between 7,000 and 15,000. The higher values are more common in higher speed, higher capacity units. (See next month's article for additional discussion of the effect of speed and capacity on S.)

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Problem No. 1: Suction Specific Speed


N = 3,550 rpm Qbep = 450 gpm NPSHRbep = 14 ft

Calculate the suction specific speed for the pump represented by the performance curve in Figure A (Figure 2 from the May column).

S=

=10,400 (RPM-GPM-FT)10,400 (RPM-GPM-FT)

(Our answer is different than the 9,000 stated on the curve.)

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Suction Specific Speed (Part One) | Pumps & Systems Magazine

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Figure A. Typical published performance curve. Single-line NPSH curve.

Importance of Suction Specific Speed


Establishing a Maximum Value for S For a number of years, the push from users and competitors required pump manufacturers to continually strive for lower values of NPSHR. The philosophy was that "The lower the NPSHR, the better the pump." (NPSHR in centrifugal pumps is normally reduced by increasing the diameter of the impeller eye, as shown in Figure 1.) That philosophy has now changed. Due to problems that have been attributed to oversized impeller eyes, pump users have established maximum values for S, which establishes minimum values for NPSHR.

Figure 1. To reduce NPSHR, the impeller eye diameter is increased. Establishing a "Stable" Window of Operation Every centrifugal pump would like to run at its BEP-always. All pump components would experience maximum life at that capacity. Seldom does a pump run at its BEP, but component life will be significantly extended if it operates within its "stable" window of capacities. To a large extent, suction specific speed indicates the size of that window. Pumps with lower values of S have larger windows.

Suction Recirculation, or the "Big Eye Syndrome" (Monster or Myth?)

For decades, industry recognized that centrifugal compressors would "surge" if operated below a certain capacity, but only more recently have we recognized that centrifugal pumps have a comparable characteristic. We now know that any centrifugal pump will experience recirculation in the impeller eye if the capacity is below a certain value. Larger impeller eyes and higher speeds (i.e., higher peripheral velocity of the eye-U 1 ) produce higher energy recirculation. The large eye required to obtain low NPSHR leads to the problem of (higher energy) "eye recirculation" or "suction recirculation" (4). As shown in Figure 2, flow through the eye is proper at the BEP, but at some reduced capacity, recirculation starts in the large eye. As pump capacity is further reduced, the intensity of the circulation increases, sometimes resulting in a reversal of flow at the i.d. of the suction pipe, near the pump. If strong enough, this vortex causes cavitation, noise and pulsations. The capacity, at which this recirculation starts, increases as the eye diameter is increased.

Figure 2. Although resulting in reduced NPHR at the BEP, the large eye creates eddies and recirculation at reduced flow rates. When the vortices are strong enough to cause cavitation, the vapor bubbles collapse on the driving side, or pressure side, of the impeller vane, near the eye. If the vane twists as it enters the eye from the larger diameter, this part of the vane cannot be seen by looking directly into the eye, but must be viewed with the assistance of a small mirror.

Study by Hallam

Numerous technical papers and articles reported problems caused by suction recirculation, but none quantified the phenomenon until Hallam (5) reported in 1982 the results of a 5 year study of 480 centrifugal pumps in Amoco's Texas

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Suction Specific Speed (Part One) | Pumps & Systems Magazine

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City refinery. Most of these pumps were in hydrocarbon services. The remainder pumped water. The average power requirement was about 150 hp and the maximum was 1,000 hp. Figure 3 shows the results of the study. The pumps were divided in groups according to their suction specific speed. The average numbers of failures/year/pump were plotted for each group. A failure was defined as any problem with the pump that required service in the refinery repair shop. The graph shows an Tags: Centrifugal Pumps NPSH September 2009 Issue
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Suction Specific Speed (Part One): Page 2 of 2


Written by: Terry Henshaw, P.E.
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increase in failure frequency of almost 100 percent above an S of about 11,000.

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Figure 3. Failure frequency vs. suction specific speed (J.L. Hallam, [5]) The logic contained in some of the papers on suction recirculation is not totally rigorous. Most of the symptoms attributed to recirculation can be attributed to other centrifugal pump phenomena. The high S attributed to some centrifugal pumps has also been found to have been obtained by improper methods of NPSH testing. Ross (6) claims that the problem of suction recirculation has been distorted-that it simply boils down to inadequate NPSHA. Regardless of the reason for the problem-whether it is suction recirculation, improper methods of testing or just inadequate NPSHA-Hallam's paper clearly shows that a pump with a suction specific speed greater than 11,000 should be selected with caution. This finding caused a number of companies to prohibit the purchase of a pump with a suction specific speed in excess of 11,000.
Problem No. 2. Suction Specific Speed for a High Speed Multistage Waterflood Pump

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A four-stage pump is operating on an offshore platform in waterflooding (secondary recovery) service. Figure 4 is a redrawn copy of the performance curve provided by the pump manufacturer. The pump is equipped with a double suction, first stage impeller. Calculate the suction specific speed:

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Aug 20, 2013 = 12,000 (RPM-GPM-FT)

S=

Would you suspect that this pump could be a problem? Yes, and it was. The first stage impeller would periodically experience cavitation-erosion on the pressure side of the vanes, throwing the rotor out of balance and causing excessive vibration.

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Figure 4. The vendor performance curve for the waterflood pump Pumps & Systems , September 2009 Terry Henshaw is a retired consulting engineer who designs pumps and related high pressure equipment and conducts pump seminars. For 30 years, he was employed by Ingersoll Rand and Union Pump. Henshaw served in various positions in the Hydraulic Institute, ANSI Subcommittee B73.2, API 674 manufacturers' subcommittee and ASME Performance Test Code Committee PTC 7.2. He authored a book on reciprocating pumps, several magazine articles and

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the two pump sections in Marks' Handbook (11th Edition). He has been awarded six patents. Henshaw is a registered professional engineer in Texas and Michigan, is a life fellow of the ASME and holds engineering degrees from Rice University and the University of Houston. He can be reached by e-mail at pumprof@att.net.

References

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Graber, P., "Solids Handling Pumps-Part 2", World Pumps Magazine, 1983 Stapanoff, A. J., Centrifugal and Axial Flow Pumps, John Wiley & Sons. Inc., 1948 Karassik, Igor J., "NPSH Characteristics of Centrifugal Pumps," paper presented at the Pump Workshop of the Pacific Energy Association, Long Beach, CA, Jan. 1981. Shepherd, W.O. & Godin, R. L, "Face Up to Feedpump Cavitation", Power, May 1977. Hallam, J. L., "Centrifugal Pumps: Which Suction Specific Speeds are Acceptable?", Hydrocarbon Processing, April 1982. Ross, Robert R., "Theoretical Prediction of NPSHR for Cavitation Free Operation of Centrifugal Pumps", United Centrifugal Pumps, about 1982. Tags: Centrifugal Pumps NPSH September 2009 Issue net positive suction head
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Suction Specific Speed (Part Two) | Pumps & Systems Magazine

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Suction Specific Speed (Part Two)


Written by: Terry Henshaw, P.E.
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Graph of Minimum Continuous Flows

In 1982, Richard Dubner of Chevron developed a graph for use in establishing minimum continuous flow rates for centrifugal pumps (see Figure 1 ). It allows a lower flow rate for pumps handling hydrocarbons than for those pumping water, and it requires larger pumps to operate closer to the BEP than smaller pumps.

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Figure 1. Dubner's (Chevron) Chart for Minimum Capacity Note that Figure 1 cautions against S values greater than 11,000, and prohibits operation of any pump larger than 100 gpm (BEP) from operating continuously at less than 20 percent of BEP. This graph may be used to establish operating guidelines for existing pumps, and in the selection process for new pumps to eliminate offerings that have a minimum flow above that anticipated for the intended service.

Problem No. 1. Minimum Continuous Capacity Using Dubner's graph ( Figure 1 ), determine the recommended minimum continuous capacity for the pump in Problem No. 2 ). Qeye = 1,250 gpm S = 12,000 Pumpage is water. From Dubner's graph, we read a factor of 0.76.

Qmincont = (0.76)(2450) = 1,860 gpm

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"Stable" Window of Operation

In 1985, Lobanoff and Ross (1) provided the graph shown in Figure 2 . It provides not only a minimum capacity, but also a maximum capacity for "stable" pump operation. It represents test results of a 4 in (discharge) pump with eight different impellers. The onset of instability was determined by measuring pump vibration. The minimum flow values obtained from this graph compare favorably with Dubner's water values ( Figure 1 ).

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Figure 2. "Stable" Flow Range vs. Suction Specific Speed for a 4 in Pump Figure 3 is an adaptation of the Lobanoff-Ross graph. Dick Allen developed the graph in 1990 to assist in evaluating pump bids. It provides a method for evaluating the size of the stable window by penalizing pumps that have smaller stable windows (higher suction specific speeds).

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Figure 3. Centrifugal Pump Stable Window of Operation Based on Suction Specific Speed (Courtesy Dick Allen) The penalty values are arbitrary, based on the judgment of the graph's author, and may be revised to suit the experience and philosophy of a given company. Key points made by this graph: 1. Do not buy a pump to operate continuously at a capacity within the "unacceptable" area (roughly any capacity less than 50 percent of Q bep ). 2. To operate in the "excellent" hydraulic range, capacity must be higher than the "penalty" range (roughly 75 percent of Q bep ). 3. 4. Do not buy a pump to operate continuously at a capacity higher than Q bep . Do not buy a pump rated at a capacity higher than about 115 percent of Q bep .

Increased Reliability

Reliability of existing pumps can be increased by maintaining flow rates within the guidelines established by Figures 1 and 2 . Reliability of future pumps can be increased by using these graphs to establish a maximum suction specific speed acceptable for the intended service.

Effect of Speed on Suction Specific Speed

Although specific speed does not change as a pump's speed is changed, suction specific speed does change. Because of the 1.5 exponent relationship between NPSHR values (Understanding NPSH, August 2009), a pump will have a higher S when it runs at a higher speed (because the NPSHR is based on the 3 percent head drop). To establish the effect of speed on S, substitution of NPSH 2 = NPSH 1 (N 2 /N1 )1.5 into a ratio of S equations,

S= yields the following relationship:

S2 = S 1 Where:

(13-3)

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S 2 = Suction specific speed at second speed S 1 = Suction specific speed at first (base) speed N 2 = RPM of pump at second speed N 1 = RPM of pump at first (base) speed Suction specific speed, based on the 3 percent head drop criterion for the same pump, varies as speed to the 3/8 th power. (Doubling the speed increases S by 30 percent.) Although a correction for a speed difference would seem to have value, the author is unaware of any speed adjustment now made in suction specific speed evaluations. The following is therefore offered for consideration. Most process pumps, at least in the United States, are tested and rated at 3,550 rpm. Because NPSHR is measured at 3,550 rpm, S is calculated for that speed. To normalize all suction specific speeds to 3,550 rpm, the following equation, from Equation 13-3, can be used:

S3550 = S Where:

(13-4)

S 3550 = Suction specific speed, normalized to 3,550 rpm S = Suction specific speed established by testing (NPSHR for a 3 percent head drop) N = Test speed, rpm Example: Test speed = 1,770 rpm; S = 8,500

S3550 = 8500

= 11,000

Effect of Capacity on Suction Specific Speed

Yedidiah (2) plotted (on log-log paper) values of S versus Q for several hundred pumps made by 10 companies, all running at 1,750 rpm. The scatter of points showed about a 2:1 variation in S for all capacities from 30 gpm to 4,000 gpm. He drew a single line though the approximate center of these points and measured the slope at about 0.18, indicating S=KQ 0.18 , but stated that this exponent would be 0.125 "under ideal conditions." Evaluating the same set of points, this author measures a slope of about 0.15, acknowledging that a slope of 0.125 would also fit the points satisfactorily.

Effect of Capacity and Speed on Suction Specific Speed


Yedidiah (2) also stated that as a function of speed, S "should" vary as S=AN 0.25 . If we let the capacity exponent be 0.125, and the speed exponent 0.25, and if we assume that these exponents apply while holding the Tags: Centrifugal Pumps NPSH October 2009 Issue
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Suction Specific Speed (Part Two): Page 2 of 2


Written by: Terry Henshaw, P.E.
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other variable constant, we can write the following equation:


0.25 S = C Q 0.125 N

Solving for C for the best fit with the second Yedidiah graph (and it fits reasonably well) results in
.25 Styp = 550 Q 0.125 N

(13-5)

Where (in U.S. units): S typ = Suction specific speed of a "typical" pump Q = Pump capacity* at BEP, GPM N = RPM of pump *If the impeller is double-suction, Q in the above equation is one-half the BEP capacity of the pump.

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This equation can be used to calculate S for a "typical" pump, realizing that published performance data may show a value 40 percent above or below the "typical" value. A more useful purpose may be to further "normalize" suction specific speed. Equations 13-3 and 13-4 provide for normalizing S for a particular pump to a common speed, such as 3,550 rpm. Equation 13-5 can be massaged to provide normalization of speed and capacity for different pumps, resulting in Equation 13-6:
0.25 S2 =S1 (Q2 /Q1 )0.125 (N (13-6) 2 /N 1)

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Where: S 2 = Suction specific speed of second pump S 1 = Suction specific speed of reference pump Q 2 = BEP capacity (per eye) of second pump Q 1 = BEP capacity (per eye) of reference pump N 2 = RPM of second pump N 1 = RPM of reference pump Note that if both pumps are the same pump, we can substitute from the Affinity Laws: Q2 /Q1 = N 2 /N1 Equation 13-6 reduces to Equation 13-3, confirming the 0.375 exponent. If we choose to "normalize" S to 3,550 rpm and to, say, 1,000 gpm (per eye), Equation 13-6 becomes:

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Sn = S Where:

(13-7)

S n = Suction specific speed, normalized to 1,000 gpm and 3,550 rpm S = Suction specific speed established by testing (NPSHR for a 3 percent head drop) Q = BEP capacity of pump (per eye), GPM N = Test speed, RPM

References

1. Lobanoff, Val S. & Ross, Robert R., Centrifugal Pumps: Design & Application, Gulf Publishing, Houston, Texas, 1985. 2. Yedidiah, S., "Factor Pump Size into NPSH Comparisons," Power, June 1973.

Author Bio: Terry Henshaw is a retired consulting engineer who designs pumps and related high pressure equipment and conducts pump seminars. For 30 years, he was employed by Ingersoll Rand and Union Pump. Henshaw served in various positions in the Hydraulic Institute, ANSI Subcommittee B73.2, API 674 manufacturers' subcommittee and ASME Performance Test Code Committee PTC 7.2. He authored a book on reciprocating pumps, several magazine articles

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and the two pump sections in Marks' Handbook (11th Edition). He has been awarded six patents. Henshaw is a registered professional engineer in Texas and Michigan, is a life fellow of the ASME and holds engineering degrees from Rice University and the University of Houston. He can be reached by e-mail at pumprof@att.net. Tags: Centrifugal Pumps NPSH October 2009 Issue net positive suction head
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Suction Specific Speed (Part Three): Using Suction Specific Speed to Establish Adequate NPSHA, net positive suction head, NPSH
Written by: Terry Henshaw, P.E.
0 0

Tenth in a Series A number of technical papers (1, 4, 7, 8) have shown that the maximum damage rate to centrifugal pumps, at least in water services, typically occurs when the NPSHA is in the range of two to three times the NPSHR 3 . Therefore, although providing additional NPSHA will increase pump head and efficiency, it will also push the NPSHA toward, or into, the range where maximum erosion rate occurs to the impeller. Vlaming (3) concluded that it was not reasonable to eliminate all cavitation in an impeller, and settled on 40,000 hours (five years) as a reasonable life of an impeller. His NPSH recommendations for obtaining 40,000 hours with a properly designed, stainless steel impeller pumping cool water can be condensed to the following equation:

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NPSHR 40K = 1.2 (13-8) This equation applies only to the capacity (flow rate), which results in non-prerotating, shockless entry of the pumpage into the impeller vanes.* That capacity is normally about 20 percent higher than the best efficiency capacity, but can be even higher (1). Equation 13-8 can be rewritten, in terms of U 1 and 1 , as follows:

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NPSHR 40K = (13-9) Aug 20, 2013

Converting to suction specific speed results in:

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S40K = 8150

(13-10)

Equation 13-10 is plotted in Figure 1 , for Dh = 0 and 1 = 17(which is the angle for which S 40K is maximum). Vlaming stated that his experience did not exceed a U 1 of 220 ft/sec, so the S 40K values above 220 ft/sec must be recognized as extrapolated. Conditions that apply to the 40,000 hour curve are: 1. Cool water 2. Stainless steel impeller 3. Impeller vanes properly twisted and tapered. (For plain vanes, S is lower.) 4. 1 = 17 5. No-prerotation, shockless-entry capacity

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6. No hub, shaft or fastener blocking part of the eye. If the eye is partially blocked by a hub, shaft or fastener, multiply S
2 0.5 from the figure by (1-(D h /D 1) )

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This author's work (9), supported by Yedidiah (5), demonstrated that, based on the 3 percent head drop, the approximate suction specific speed, calculated at Q bep , varies with U 1 as follows:

S 3 = C U 1 0.375

(13-11)

Gongwer's work (10) allowed this author to determine that S 3 reaches its peak value when 1 = 10. With 1 = 10, Equation 13-11 becomes:

S 3 = 2520 U 1 0.375

(13-12)

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Equation 13-12 is also plotted in Figure 1 . Note that the 3 percent head drop curve is based on Q bep and 1 = 10, and the 40,000 hour curve is based on Q np and 1 = 17, so the two curves are not directly comparable. However, the figure does provide a general comparison, and it emphasizes the diversion of S values as U 1 increases. Any S value selected from the top curve could result in a problematic pump.
*

Vlaming provided a set of curves for estimating NPSHR 40K for capacities above and below the non-prerotating

shockless capacity, which showed that the NPSHR 40K is higher at all capacities other than shockless.

Figure 1

Nomenclature
SYMBOL

DEFINITION

UNITS

EQUATION

The angle of the inlet edge of the impeller vane, at the point where the vane joins the front shroud, measured in a plane tangent to Degrees the shroud surface. Eye area. The net flow area just upstream of Square the impeller vanes. Inches Best efficiency point. The capacity (flow rate) at which pump efficiency is a maximum. The meridional component of the velocity of the liquid just upstream of the impeller vanes. Diameter of the circle prescribed by the inlet edge of the impeller vane, at the point where the vane joins the front shroud (Typically equal to the diameter of the impeller eye) Diameter of impeller hub, shaft or fastener, in the plane defined by the outer points of the leading edges of the impeller vanes. Acceleration of gravity Rotative speed of impeller The NPSH available to the pump coincident with a 3 percent pump head loss (/4)( D12- Dh 2)

Ae

BEP

C m1

ft/sec

0.321 Q/A e

D 1

Inches

D h

Inches 32.2 ft.sec 2 rev/min (rpm) Feet Feet

g N NPSH3 NPSH40k

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Suction Specific Speed (Part Three): Using Suction Specific Speed to Establish Adequate ... Page 3 of 4

As defined by Vlaming (3), the NPSH required by a pump, with a stainless steel impeller, pumping cool water, to obtain an impeller life of 40,000 hours The meridional velocity through the impeller eye required to obtain a right triangle with U 1 and W 1 Capacity (flow rate) through each impeller eye

P1

ft/sec

U1 tan 1

Qe Qbep

GPM

Capacity (flow rate) of the pump when pump GPM efficiency is at its peak Capacity (flow rate) through each impeller eye, when C m1 = P 1 (no prerotation, shockless entry)

Qnp

GPM

3.12 P 1 Ae

S3

Suction specific speed with RPMcavitation sufficient to cause a 3 percent loss GPMof pump head FEET Approximate suction specific speed with RPMcavitation sufficient to cause a 3 percent loss GPMof pump head, for 1 = 10 0 FEET Suction specific speed required to obtain 40,000 hour life, as defined by Vlaming Peripheral velocity of the inlet edge of the impeller vane, at the point where the vane joins the front shroud RPMGPMFEET ft/sec

NQ
0.5 0.75 NPSH e 3

S3/10

S40K

NQ
0.5 /NPSH40K0.75 e

U 1

D1 N/229

W 1

Velocity of liquid, relative to the impeller, just ft/sec upstream of the impeller vanes 1. Stepanoff, A. J., November 2009 Issue
1

References

Tags: Centrifugal Pumps

NPSH

net positive suction head

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Suction Specific Speed (Part Three): Using Suction Specific Speed to Establish Adequate NPSHA, net positive suction head, NPSH: Page 2 of 2
Written by: Terry Henshaw, P.E.
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Centrifugal and Axial Flow Pumps, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1948. 2. Grist, Edward, B.Sc., "Nett Positive Suction Head Requirements for Avoidance of Unacceptable Cavitation Erosion in Centrifugal Pumps," Paper No. C163174, 1974. 3. Vlaming, D. J., "Analysis of Cavitation Provides Advanced NPSH Estimates for Centrifugal Pumps," Oil & Gas Journal, November 19, 1984 4. Ross, Robert R., "Theoretical Prediction of NPSHR for Cavitation Free Operation of Centrifugal Pumps," United Centrifugal Pumps, about 1982. 5. Yedidiah, S., "Factor Pump Size into NPSH Comparisons," Power, June 1973. 6. Henshaw, Terry, "NPSHA-How Much is Enough?", Hydrocarbon Processing, Oct. 2004. 7. Deeprose, W.M. and McNulty, P.J., "Cavitation Noise in Pumps," Proc. 4th Conference of Fluid Machinery, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, 1972. 8. Deeprose, W.M., King, N.W., McNulty, F.J., and Pearsall, I.A., "Cavitation Noise, Flow Noise and Erosion," National Engineering Laboratory, Department of Industry, East Kilbride, Glasgow, 1974. 9. Henshaw, Terry L., Advanced NPSH Workshop, PumpUsers EXPO 99, Nashville, TN, Sept. 1999.

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10. Gongwer, Calvin A., "A Theory of Cavitating Flow in Centrifugal-Pump Impellers," ASME Hydraulic Div. SemiAnnual Meeting, Milwaukee, WI, June 1940. Author Bio: Terry Henshaw is a retired consulting engineer who designs pumps and related high pressure equipment and conducts pump seminars. For 30 years, he was employed by Ingersoll Rand and Union Pump. Henshaw served in various positions in the Hydraulic Institute, ANSI Subcommittee B73.2, API 674 manufacturers' subcommittee and ASME Performance Test Code Committee PTC 7.2. He authored a book on reciprocating pumps, several magazine articles and the two pump sections in Marks' Handbook (11th Edition). He has been awarded six patents. Henshaw is a registered professional engineer in Texas and Michigan, is a life fellow of the ASME and holds engineering degrees from Rice University and the University of Houston. He can be reached by e-mail at pumprof@att.net. Tags: Centrifugal Pumps November 2009 Issue NPSH net positive suction head
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