When you hire a carpenter, he repairs everything with a hammer. So, what happens when you ask an aeronautical student to solve some issues in a dredge pump? He models the pump as a badly behaving airplane. And with success, Alex de Rooij joined our company as a graduation student and recently graduated on the topic of ‘Numerical Study on NACA Profiles Sensitivity in Dredge Pump Impellers’.
The normal procedure for designing pumps is relatively straight forward. Set the performance specifications and try to hit that mark with the simulated behaviour from an iteratively improved design. This is well documented and I’ve been writing about this process before.1
One of the design parameters is the NPSHr. This is basically the amount of absolute pre-pressure the pump requires to operate.2 The system and operating conditions will result in a certain available pre-pressure: NPSHa. When the NPSHa drops below the NPSHr, the pump will experience cavitation at the low pressure side of the blade. The flow of the medium will be disturbed and the performance of the pump will abruptly crash. There is some warning. Operating near the NPSHr, there will be an incipient cavitation where the vapour bubbles start to form, but do not cause any issue. The imploding vapour bubbles may be detected audibly for the trained listener.3 Next will be a stage on the NPSHr, where the bubbles get larger and they loudly implode. At this stage, the pump sounds like it is tumbling nuts and bolts inside. These imploding bubbles will definitely cause damage to the impeller. At last, working below the NPSHr, the bubbles will become so large, they will block the passage between the blades. The result is an immediate drop in delivered head.
The flow of the medium through the impeller can be simulated in a CFD program. Specifically for impellers, you will need to model a rotating frame of reference. And that is the usual representation of the results. However, with mathematics being one of the most powerful tools invented by humanity, we can have an alternative view on these results. We can cut the impeller along a radial and stretch open the meridional passage and the blades to a row of foils. And that is exactly where our young aspiring engineer comes in. In literature, the blades in the impeller are modelled having a constant thickness. But, Alex has been investigating what the influence will be when we model the blades as foils. Selecting a proper profile makes the blade less sensitive to stalling.
Alex, thank you very much for your work here at Damen. We’ve learned the influence of certain profiles on the performance and geometry of the pumps. You have the right mindset to pass your time at the TU Delft and graduate successfully over there also. And whenever you have some days of the month left after you spend your allowance, know that we can give you a warm reception at our office.
- Our Interview About New Pump Designs In The Latest Damen Nieuws, Discover Dredging
- When does your pump suck? Discover Dredging
- Cavitation in a Water Pump and Valve, Mountain States Engineering and Controls