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