A Plexiglas Research Pump With Calibrated Magnetic Bearings/Load Cells for Radial and Axial Hydraulic Force Measurement

[+] Author and Article Information
D. O. Baun, R. D. Flack

Department of Mechanical Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903-2442

J. Fluids Eng 121(1), 126-132 (Mar 01, 1999) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2821992 History: Received August 14, 1997; Revised October 13, 1998; Online December 04, 2007


A research pump intended for both flow visualization studies and direct measurement of hydrodynamic radial and axial forces has been developed. The impeller and the volute casing are constructed from Plexiglas which facilitates optical access for laser velocimetry measurements of the flow field both inside the impeller and in the volute casing. The pump housing is designed for flexibility allowing for each interchange of impellers and volute configurations. The pump rotor is supported by three radial magnetic bearings and one double acting magnetic thrust bearing. The magnetic bearings have been calibrated to characterize the force versus coil current and air gap relationship for each bearing type. Linear calibration functions valid for rotor eccentricities of up to 2/3 of the nominal bearing clearances and force level of ±58 N (13 lbf ) and ±267 N (60 lbf ) for the radial and axial bearings, respectively, were found. A detailed uncertainty analysis of the force calibration functions was conducted such that meaningful uncertainty bounds can be applied to in situ force measurements. Hysteresis and eddy current effects were quantified for each bearing such that their effect on the in situ force measurements could be assessed. By directly measuring the bearing reaction forces it is possible to determine the radial and axial hydraulic loads acting on the pump impeller. To demonstrate the capability of the magnetic bearings as active load cells representative hydraulic force measurements for a centered 4 vane 16 degree log spiral radial flow impeller operating in a single tongue spiral volute casing were made. At shut-off a nondimensional radial thrust of 0.084 was measured. A minimum nondimensional radial thrust of about 0.007 was observed at the nominal design flow. The nondimensional radial thrust increased to about 0.019 at 120 percent of design flow. The nondimensional axial thrust had a maximum at shut-off of 0.265 and decreased steadily to approximately 0.185 at 120 percent of design flow. Two regions of increasing axial thrust, in the flow range 75 to 100 percent of design flow, were observed. The measurements are compared to radial and axial force predictions using classical force models. The direct radial force measurements are compared to a representative set of radial force measurements from the literature. In addition, the directly measured radial force at design flow is compared to a single representative radial force measurement (obtained from the literature) calculated from the combination of static pressure and net momentum flux distribution at the impeller exit.

Copyright © 1999 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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