Research Papers: Techniques and Procedures

Very Low Specific Speed Centrifugal Pump—Hydraulic Design and Physical Limitations

[+] Author and Article Information
Grunde Olimstad

Eureka Pumps AS,
Oksenøyveien 8,
Fornebu 1364, Norway
e-mail: grunde.olimstad@eureka.no

Morten Osvoll

Eureka Pumps AS,
Oksenøyveien 8,
Fornebu 1364, Norway
e-mail: morten.osvoll@eureka.no

Pål Henrik Enger Finstad

Eureka Pumps AS,
Oksenøyveien 8,
Fornebu 1364, Norway
e-mail: paal.finstad@eureka.no

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Fluids Engineering Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FLUIDS ENGINEERING. Manuscript received May 7, 2017; final manuscript received January 25, 2018; published online March 16, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Devesh Ranjan.

J. Fluids Eng 140(7), 071403 (Mar 16, 2018) (7 pages) Paper No: FE-17-1266; doi: 10.1115/1.4039250 History: Received May 07, 2017; Revised January 25, 2018

For low-flow and high-head applications, pump types such as progressive cavity or gear pumps are often used. However, centrifugal pumps are much more robust and wear resistant, and are beneficial if they can handle the rated head and flows. By challenging the limitations of low specific speed (Nq), centrifugal pumps can be made to handle a combination of low flow and high head, which previously required other pump types. Conventional centrifugal pumps have specific speed down to 10, while in this paper a design with specific speed of 4.8 is presented. The paper describes several iterative steps in the design process of the low Nq pump. These iterations were done one physical pumps, which were successively tested in a test rig. Motivation for each step is explained theoretically and followed up by discussion of the measured results. Four different geometries of the pump were tested, all of them manufactured by rapid prototyping in nylon material. A substantial question is how low the specific speed of a centrifugal pump can be. Limitations of low Nq pumps are discussed and new findings are related to volute cavitation. In addition, limitations due to disk friction, volute losses, leakage flow, and pump stability are discussed and show to limit the design space for the pump designer.

Copyright © 2018 by ASME
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Stephanoff, A. J. , 1957, Centrifugal and Axial Flow Pumps, 2nd ed., Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, FL.
Gülich, J. F. , 2003, “Disk Friction Losses Closed Turbomachine Impellers,” Forsch. Ingenieurwes., 68(2), pp. 87–95. [CrossRef]
Satoh, H. , Uchida, K. , and Cao, Y. , 2005, “Design of Ultra Low Specific Speed Centrifugal Pump,” 22nd International Pump User Symposium, Houston, TX, Feb. 28–Mar. 3, pp. 16–21. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/52ee/cd035f7767e9efb200f43fbc8a9923471167.pdf
Kurokawa, J. , Yamada, T. , and Hiraga, H. , 1992, “Performance of Low Specific Speed Pumps,” 11th Australasian Fluid Mechanics Conference, Hobart, Australia, Dec. 14–18, pp. 861–864. http://people.eng.unimelb.edu.au/imarusic/proceedings/11/Kurokawa.pdf
Choi, Y. , Kurokawa, J. , and Matsui, J. , 2006, “Performance and Internal Flow Characteristics of a Very Low Specific Speed Centrifugal Pump,” ASME J. Fluids Eng., 128(2), pp. 341–349. [CrossRef]
Klas, R. , Pochyly, F. , and Rudolf, P. , 2014, “Analysis of Novel Low Specific Speed Pump Design,” IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci., 22, p. 012010.
Gao, B. , Zhang, N. , Li, Z. , Ni, D. , and Yang, M. , 2016, “Influence of the Blade Trailing Edge Profile on the Performance and Unsteady Pressure Pulsation in a Low Specific Speed Centrifugal Pump,” ASME J. Fluids Eng., 138(5), p. 051106. [CrossRef]
Kelder, J. D. H. , Dijkers, R. J. H. , van Esch, B. P. M. , and Kruyt, N. P. , 2001, “Experimental and Theoretical Study of the Flow in the Volute of a Low Specific-Speed Pump,” Fluids Dyn. Res., 28(4), pp. 267–280. [CrossRef]
Juckelandt, K. , Bleeck, S. , and Wurm, F. H. , 2015, “Analysis of Losses in Centrifugal Pumps With Low Specific Speed With Smooth and Rough Walls,” 11th European Conference on Turbomachinery Fluid Dynamics and Thermodynamics (ETC11), Madrid, Spain, Mar. 23–27, pp. 1–10. http://aerospace-europe.eu/media/books/ETC2015-068.pdf
Limbach, P. , and Skoda, R. , 2017, “Numerical and Experimental Analysis of Cavitating Flow in a Low Specific Speed Centrifugal Pump With Different Surface Roughness,” ASME J. Fluids Eng., 139(10), p. 101201. [CrossRef]
Brekke, H. , 2003, “Pumps and Turbines,” NTNU Water Power Laboratory, Trondheim, Norway.
Greitzer, E. M. , 1981, “The Stability of Pumping Systems,” ASME J. Fluids Eng., 103(2), pp. 193–242. [CrossRef]
Gülich, J. F. , 2014, Centrifugal Pumps, Springer-Verlag, Berlin. [CrossRef]


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Pump housing with volute and impeller with radial ribs on the hub. Both three-dimensional (3D) printed in nylon 12 material.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Pump A, radial view

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

HQ curve of pump A

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

NPSH estimate versus inlet diameter, NPSH based on 3% head drop

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Minimum pressure in impeller domain for three positions of leading edge

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Radial view of pump B

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Pump curve of pump B compared to pump A

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 9

NPSH test of pump B compared to pump A

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 11

Radial view of pump D

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 10

Radial view of pump C

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 12

Head flow curves for pump C and D

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 13

Efficiency curves for pump C and D

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 14

NPSH performance for pump C and D

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 15

Pump curve with booster pump

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 16

Minimum pressure in volute from CFD simulation

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 17

Effect of increasing the throat area from 10 × 10 mm to 12 × 10 mm

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 18

Comparison of all four pumps



Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In