Graduation Of Carsten Markus: Designing And Casting Of Impellers

Impeller under operating load.
Impeller under operating load.

Last week, Carsten Markus graduated on his assignment with our research department Damen Dredging Equipment. He investigated the alloys that are used to cast our impellers and the responses of the materials under operating conditions. We are always improving our dredge pumps and Carsten’s work has been a great contribution for our development.

For every dredging application, the material for the dredge pump parts can be carefully selected according the specific requirements on the sediment handled. Off course, one would like to have the hardest, most erosion resistant material available. Less erosion is less wear and a longer lifetime1.

Wear part material hardness in relation to wear index

However, there is a downside to choosing very hard material: it will be very brittle also2. Basically, the ultimate tensile stress coincides with the yield stress. There is no reserve for the load. When the stress surpasses the yield strength, it just snaps. Conversely, a tough material has a lot of reserve. After deformation beyond the yield stress, the load can still increase without a catastrophic failure. Usually, the stresses would not be that high, the thickness of the wear parts is dimensioned for erosion reserves and thick parts have low stresses. The high stresses can come from concentrations. Either when the wear reserves are eroded, or when a heavy load is concentrated on a very small area. Usually stones. Stones are a very common problem in a dredging project. So, next to the hardness of an alloy, also the toughness will be a very important characteristic. And toughness is related to the yield elongation after failure.

For the various materials you would like to know how the base load relates to the tensile stress. This would be an indication whether there is reserve in the elastic region to accommodate the impact of an occasional stone. This base load depends on many factors in the pumping process. Mainly the pressure generation in the mixture over the blades. Most known literature is about the force distribution in the volute of the pump, as this is directly related to the radial forces and consequently the bearing and shaft calculations. The CFD simulations in this graduation project revealed the skewed load on the volute and consequently the load variations on the impeller.

Transient CFD simulation of a dredge pump. The rotation appears wrong , but is correct (Wagon-wheel effect).

As emphasised before, it is very beneficial to operate your dredge system around the Best Efficiency Point (BEP). Not only the shaft and bearings suffer less, also the impact of the stresses and their variations in the impeller are less. If the operating point differs from the required capacity, the BEP can be moved by changing the dredge pump speed. As long as head requirements permit the adjustment.

Radial load as a function of pump characteristics.
Radial load as a function of pump characteristics.

As a result of Carsten’s research, we were able to improve our operating load models for the whole dredge pump and gained insight into the material responses to these. Thank you Carsten.

Due to the measures taken for the containment of the Corona virus, the graduation itself and the party to celebrate it, where done remotely over internet. Let’s enjoy the real beer later, after all this commotion is over. Stay home, stay safe.

Carsten’s graduation defence session under Covid-19 measures.
Carsten’s graduation defence session under Covid-19 measures.


  1. Do You Have Wear Parts For Spare?, Discover Dredging
  2. Brittleness, Wikipedia

See also

Graduation Gijs Ter Meulen: Drag Analysis And Model For Forces And Production

Gijs proudly presenting his MSc. certificate.

We have another bright new MSc. engineer in dredging technology1: Gijs ter Meulen. Tuesday, he presented and defended his thesis on the forces and production of a trailing suction head. For this thesis project he was working at our research and development department at Damen Dredging Equipment2.

Trailing suction hopper dredges have become the tool of the trade for modern dredging contractors. They are versatile, flexible and able to transport sand over great distances. They load their cargo in their holds, by sucking up the sediment from the sea bottom with a big trailing suction head. This head looks like an out of size vacuum cleaner head.

Typical drag head on a railing suction hopper dredge.

Usually, it is very difficult to comprehend what is going on in and around the drag head. There is some laboratory research done, but not all results are freely available. Other knowledge is solely based on the experience of well-seasoned dredge masters. I do have respect for the experience of dredge masters, but their stories are hardly usable for an academic model description. So, Gijs took on the challenge to piece together a model, that satisfies our curiosity and fits with the experiences.

Concise development of the drag head model by Gijs ter Meulen.

For this project, he identified several steps, which we briefly touch upon here:

  1. The processes and forces around the drag head3 were all investigated on their cause and effect.
  2. A model was set up, where each process and their interaction with the others were identified.
  3. One main process in the drag head is the jetting production. A powerful jet of water is injected into the soil and this erodes part of the sediment under the drag head4.
  4. Another main process is the cutting production5. What is not eroded away by the jets, is removed by the teeth at the back of the visor.
  5. As the contribution of the processes to the forces and the production is known, the total performance can be calculated.

Along the way, this gave us very useful insight in the capabilities of the drag head and the trailing system, all the way to the requirements for the propulsion. Now, we will be able to continue to improve our drag heads even further. Any other students who would like to participate in that project are welcome to contact us5.

Gijs takes a new step in his career path. He is going to work for a well esteemed customer of us, so we will see him around in the dredging industry. Thanks Gijs, bon voyage!

Gijs, good luck with your future career in dredging.


  1. MSc Offshore & Dredging Engineering, TU Delft
  2. Innovation, Damen Dredging Equipment
  3. Designing Dredging Equipment [OE4671], Vlasblom
  4. Sand erosion with a traversing circular jet, Robert Weegenaar
  5. The Cutting of Sand, Dredging Engineering
  6. Internships, Damen Dredging Equipment

See also

Graduation Suman Sapkota: Where wear parts were worn down

Suman Sapkota signing his Master of Science degree

Yesterday, Suman Sapkota graduated at the University of Twente on: ‘Technical and Sustainability Analysis of Sediment Erosion of Impeller Blades of Dredge Pumps’. We are very proud he worked for us on this topic and graduated with a grade 8 for it. As such, he stands in a long line of Master students1, who graduate with an 8 or even higher2. We value good students and we like to work with them only if the work they deliver is useful for us. This requires an intensive supervision and the results are correspondingly. This does not guarantee a good result, but you can always try3.

Suman graduated on a topic covered by the chair of ‘Sustainable Energy Technology’4. The objective was to study the economic and environmental impact of worn wear parts. When wear parts have to be rejected too early, they increase their environmental footprint. On the other end, if an impeller is severely worn, the efficiency decreases and the environmental footprint increases also. Our question was whether it was possible to improve the design of the dredge pump for a longer lifetime by checking the wear rate of the improvement in a simulation. To understand the problem and answer the question Suman had to start investigating the wear process itself.

Introduction sediment erosion in dredging applications

From literature he evaluated different erosion models. Basically, what is the effect when a defined particle impacts the concerned surface under certain conditions. And the conditions will be depending on the flow pattern and the influence of the fluid on the particle trajectories. The second research part was the investigation of this flow pattern and simulated with a CFD application. The flow pattern and the particle properties were combined. This way, the movement of the particles can be traced from inlet to outlet.

Particle tracking in CFD simulation of an impeller

Between inlet and outlet, the particles bounce against several areas of the blade. The bouncing can be counted and mapped. Together with the information of the impingement conditions and the erosion model, an estimation of the erosion rate can be made for different flow conditions and soil properties. The mapping can be transformed into an erosion density map. These maps can be checked for pump capacity and particle sizes.

Sediment erosion rate density map

With these maps, we can finally evaluate in advance where impellers will wear down and if we can improve their lifetime by modifying the design. Thus we can reduce their environmental footprint and contribute to a more sustainable business.

Suman, thank you very much for working for us. You were a pleasure to work with. We wish you good luck on your career and a happy life.

Congratulations to Suman Sapkota. Well done!


  1. Graduation reports, Discover Dredging
  2. Ben Sloof Nominated For KIvI Best Offshore Graduate Student
  3. Internship Vacancies, Damen
  4. Kipaji scholarship for Nepalese student, University of Twente

See also