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Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, Chin a October22-25, 2016

Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and

performance prediction for micro hydropower schemes: A
Maxime Binama1, Wen-Tao Su1,1 , Xiao-Bin Li1 , Feng-Chen Li1 , and Yue Zhao2

School of Energy Science and Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin

150001, China

State key laboratory of hydropower equipment, Harbin Institute of Large Electric

Machinery, Harbin 150040, China
Abstract: Energy is unarguably the key factor for todays economic and social development
within nations. Electricity as one of many energy forms is a critical input to developing countries
in the struggle to the national self-satisfaction in all domains. Rural electricity supply involved
institutions have recently recommended the pump as turbine (PAT)-based micro hydropower plant
(MHP) schemes for remote off-grid electrification, mostly from their economic advantages.
However, from different published research findings, PAT-based MHP is not only simple and
economically feasible, but has presented bottlenecks in the move to its full understanding.
Moreover, compared to other clean energy technologies, PAT technology has not found much
literature in academic published researches, thus contributing to its limited understanding within
the community. Therefore, the PAT literature availability is one way to level up its understanding,
which can be helpful to academic and professional communities. In the present study, a literature
review on the two most challenging PAT aspects, namely pump-turbine selection and performance
prediction, is presented; where a summary about energy sources history leading to the actual MHP

1. Introduction
Energy is unarguably the key factor for todays economic and social development within nations. The
provision of reliable, secure and affordable energy services is central to addressing many of todays
global development challenges[1]. Electricity as one of many energy forms is a critical input to
developing countries in the struggle to the national self-satisfaction in all domains. Being a secondary
source of energy, electricity can be obtained through the conversion of primary sources of energy, such as
fossil fuels, nuclear energy or green energy [2]. From the early age, mankind require electrical energy to
fulfil their needs such as lighting their houses, running industrial processes, heating and cooling for
comfort, communication and numerous others [3]. However, both the demographic growth and the socio1

Corresponding author: Dr. Wen-Tao Su (0451-86403740), Harbin Institute of Technology

Maxime Binamaet al. Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance
prediction for micro hydropower schemes: A review

economic development that took place during the last century have led to a continuous increase in
electricity demand. These two events caused an augmentation of the yearly total world electricity
generation in the period 1973-2008, which increased from 6116 TWh/year to 20181 TWh/year [4].
Despite this demonstrable increase in world electrical energy production, there is still shortage of
electricity supply and other forms of modern energy in most of the developing countries [5]. According
to the International Energy Agency, 1.4 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity[6], SubSahara African region being the worst hit, yet the region is endowed with several resources from which
modern forms of energy can be generated, for example hydropower [7]. Nevertheless, as far as electricity
is concerned, hydropower is the most important renewable contribution to the primary energy supply mix.
It represents more than 92% of all worldwide renewable energy generated, and it continues to stand as the
most important renewable energy source [8]. Hydropower is a renewable energy source based on the
natural water cycle, and actually the most mature, reliable and cost-effective renewable power generation
technology available[9]. It contributes to around 16% of the World electricity supply generated from
about 20,053 TWh of installed capacity [10]. While large hydropower plants feed the national grid,
typical off-grid micro hydropower plant (MHP) is the most popular solution for electrification among
rural communities which supplies power in the range of 5100 kW, usually using a run-of-the-river to
divert some of the water from the river before dropping into a pressurized penstock [11]. The main
components that comprise typical MHP schemes are electromechanical equipment, civil structures, and
energy distribution systems [12], the turbine being one of the critical technological components of the
MHP project [5]. Small and micro hydropower installations have, historically, been cheap to run but
expensive to build. This is now changing, with smaller, lighter and more efficient higher-speed turbine
equipment [13].
The mostly met problem in micro turbines is their higher price compared to full scale ones with
respect to the whole project budget, owing to their expensive manufacturing price. For instance, its very
difficult, time-consuming, and costly to develop such site-specific turbines in accordance with the local
ecology [14]. The cost of electro-mechanical components in large hydro-power plants is around 20% but
in MHPs it is relatively high and varies from 35% to 40% of the total project cost which may rise even up
to 60% to 70% of the total project cost in some typical cases [15]. Therefore, a better solution to this
issue would be finding cheaper electro-mechanical equipment but considering three fundamental
conditions, viz. simplicity, efficiency, and reliability. One way to reduce the equipment cost has been the
use of a standard pump unit as an alternative to a conventional turbine [16-19]. Pumps are mass-produced,
and as a result, have different advantages for MHP compared to purpose-made turbines, viz. availability
in large number of standard sizes for a wide range of heads and flows[16-18], short delivery time [18-22],
long life span [19-23] and easy installation and availability of spare parts such as seals and bearings [1618]. The first pump turbine had been set at a remote farm in the Yorkshire Dales of the North England in
1930. This scheme has been working for a five year testing time, after which its reliability was confirmed
before being transferred to other countries [16]. From then on, pump turbine has become a hot topic
amongst researchers and field engineers, where indeed, it has been used at so many sites, mainly for
electricity provision in remote hilly regions away from central grid reach (Table 1). Different researchers;
Williams[16], Orchard and Sander[24], Ramos and Borga [25], Derakhshan and Ahmad [26], and
Arriaga [27] among others, have provided information about the applications and advantages of pump
working as turbine, mainly basing their arguments on its two most important features: cost-effectiveness
and simplicity. Adding on the third one, smallness, which is also true in a way; PATs simple
structural design would reflect its easily understandable operations. However, owing to the philosophy
behind the pumps functioning difference between conventional and reverse modes, pump turbines flow
dynamics and characteristics have not been fully understood, thus requiring more research efforts in the
Table 1 PAT installations


Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, Chin a October22-25, 2016


Capacity of plant

Year of installation

Sainyabuli Province, Laos [27]

Thima Kenya [28]
Mae Wei village, Thailand [29]
West Java, Indonesia [30]
Kinko village, Tanzania [31]
Fazenda Boa Esperanca, Brazil[32]
Ambotia Micro-hydro project, India[33]
British Columbia, Canada [34]
Vysni Lhoty, Czech Republic [35]

2 KW
2.2 KW
3 KW
4.5 KW
10 KW
45 KW
50 KW
200 KW
332 KW


As a matter of fact, many researchers have tried different PAT efficiency prediction methods but in
vain, as the predicted results never got validated through experimentation, with errors of the order of 20%
[36], and couldnt cover a wide range of pump operating conditions in reverse mode. Though the reasons
for these failures are somewhat controversial, Singh[33] through his theory Small is beautiful but not
simple, emphasized that one of the foremost causes is that these technologies are considered easy and
simple which do not need competence of schooled engineers, scientists or policy makers. He also added
that one of the easily confused things is equating small to simple, as it mostly results in a backfire.
Taking from these grounds, the present paper, through a big number of published literatures survey, seeks
to serve as awareness about the mostly met techno-scientific problems in pump turbines daily operations;
namely pump selection and performance prediction. This is done in the sense of scaling up the
knowledge and know-how in the same field, which may be helpful to different institutions; be it
academic or professional.
2. Pump-turbine selection
Typical micro hydropower plants convert the falling water-contained energy to mechanical energy by
turning the pump turbine, which converts the water pressure into mechanical shaft power to drive an
electricity generator. The power available (P) is proportional to the product of head (H) and volume flow
rate (Q) as the general formula for hydropower systems shows [37] (equation 1). It can then be seen that
the turbine selection process for a MHP of interest, should be based on the head and flowrate available at
the site. Nevertheless, the power output may also be related to the head to express the turbine specific
speed (NS).


H 5/4


This parameter characterizes the turbine runner, spiral casing, blade shape and other geometric design
features, thus doesnt depend on the size but the shape of the machine of concern [14]. For instance two
machines of similar shape and different size may have same specific speed. One of the biggest difficulties
in micro hydropower technology is to adapt the equipment to the specificity of the plant [38]. For
instance, as much the PAT can be having many advantages compared to purpose-made turbines, the main
drawback in its usage is generally the difficulty of finding the turbine characteristics that are needed to
select the correct pump for a particular site [16]. The adequate selection of the PAT has been a big
challenge in the past decades, where different aspects need a close attention, viz. available head range,
capacity range, back pressure at the turbine outlet, desired speed, etc. [14, 39]. For the PAT based MHP
cost effectiveness goal to be achieved, an optimum operational design, smart selection of the equipment
and reduced professional consultation must be implemented to lower the overall cost [40-42].

Maxime Binamaet al. Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance
prediction for micro hydropower schemes: A review

Nevertheless, for the optimum PAT selection at a particular site, there is a fundamental need of basic
information about the head and discharge available at the site, but most importantly, the expected PAT
performance characteristics, which in fact, are two key-factors to the PAT selection validity. However,
the lack of PAT performance data is always stated as one of the significant challenges in the design of
PAT for MHP sites [43]. Different researchers; Orchard and Sander [24], Franc et al. [44], Chapallaz et al.
[45], Fraenkel et al. [46] and Paish [37] among others, have so far provided head-flow charts depicting
the range of application for different PATs (Fig. 2a). It was generally concluded that multistage radial
flow PATs fit sites with high heads-low flow rates, whereas axial flow ones perform well at low headhigh flow rates sites. However, the use of single stage end suction centrifugal PATs from low to medium
heads, has also been recommended by many of researchers [26, 39, 47-53]. PAT selection can also be
carried out through a head-specific speed chart. Avelan [54] has presented a head-specific speed chart for
Francis-type reversible pump turbines, where the PAT geometric design plays the key role in the
classification process. PATs with narrow impeller channels at the runner inlet are characterized by high
heads-low specific speeds, while PATs with wider impeller channels at the runner inlet are characterized
by low heads-high specific speeds (Fig. 2b).

(a) Head-flowrate selection chart [40]

(b) Head-specific speed selection chart [41]

Fig. 1. Head-flow charts for hydro turbines

Kaunda et al. [5] has presented the systematic process of selecting the optimum turbine according to
the site conditions, where both the importance of head-volumetric flowrate chart and the turbine specific
speed were recognized (Fig. 3), and different factors which can assist in pump selection decision making,
viz. investment cost of the turbine, turbine design complexity, unit power generation cost, and the turbine
performance, were discussed as well.The field applications of multistage, single impeller centrifugal and
axial flow pumps can be compared with Pelton, Francis and Kaplan turbines respectively [55]. According
to Lueneburg and Nelson [39] and Sharma[56], all centrifugal pumps from low to high specific speed,
single or multistage, radially or axially split, horizontal or vertical installations, in-line and double suction
can be used in reverse mode. However, some pump types cant find their use in this field because of, for
some their operating characteristics, others their design features. For instance, self-priming and wetmotor submersible bore hole pumps cant be reversed because of the presence of a non-return valve. Drymotor submersible pumps also cant be used mainly because of their over-heating issue. The main
weaknesses of simple PATs are generally the inability to control the flow as they are not provided with
flow control facilities (guide vanes), and the poor performance at off-design operating conditions, viz.
part and over flow conditions. Therefore, they only can work efficiently at a short range of discharges
close to the full load (80% to 100%).


Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, Chin a October22-25, 2016

However, MHPs are often required to work at off design conditions, mainly from seasonal flow
variations. In this case, the site flow rate can pass or go below the maximum plant capacity in rainy or dry
seasons respectively. To take care of this issue, the site flow should be recorded on the whole year, so
that PAT selection can be performed based on the lowest annual flow record. Another alternative would
be running many PATs in parallel to take care of the off design flow conditions. This method would be
more profitable as PATs can be switched on and off depending on the site available flow [57], however,
needing more attention so that the MHP cost-effectiveness goal remains uncompromised. In this respect,
different researchers, such as Singh [33], Spangler [58], Fraser et al. [59], Nicholas[60], and Hochreutiner
[61], have come out with a range of number of PATs ranging from 3 to 7, which when operated in
parallel would be more efficient than a single conventional turbine of a comparable capacity. The last
technic to be presented in this paper is the siphon intake method as presented by Williams [36].

Fig. 2. Turbine selection flow chart for micro hydropower schemes [5]
This method is used in low flow cases, where the flow is accumulated and stored in a reservoir in
order to release the full flow to the PAT intermittently, thus producing an intermittent power. This
method is not convenient to engineering applications requiring continuous energy supply, but it can serve
for different basic operations like heating and battery charging.
3. Pump-turbine performance prediction
PAT is an economical alternative for small and micro-hydro schemes in remote areas. A pump in reverse
can generally handle comparatively higher flow rates, which in turn may implicate higher output energy
ranges [62]. However, due to the fact that the pump manufacturers do not offer performance curves of
their pumps in turbine mode; the selection of a suitable pump turbine to run under site-specific operation
conditions has become a big challenge [14]. A large number of theoretical and experimental studies have
been done for performance prediction of reverse running centrifugal pumps[48]. The pump mode-based
prediction technic is the easiest way as it only requires the user to have access to the pump performance
basic information such as the flow rate , head
and the efficiency , which in turn make it easy to
find correspondent turbine mode performance parameters through simple calculations. Therefore,
theoretical researches were mainly based on pump mode performance parameters where the head and
flow correction factors play a key role in PAT performance prediction.
Many researchers, e.g., Stepanoff [63], Childs [64], Sharma [65], among others, have developed PAT
performance prediction relations based on pump best efficiency point (BEP) whereas others such as
Gopalakrishnan [66], Diederich [67], and Grover [68] have developed their relations basing on the pump
specific speed. However, theoretical prediction methods have not provided a completely reliable solution
to the problem as their results were way erroneous as compared to field test results. Therefore they may

Maxime Binamaet al. Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance
prediction for micro hydropower schemes: A review

only be used to get a rough picture of the required PAT characteristics, which need validation adjustment
by experimental methods. Selected PAT performance researches and findings have been chronologically
presented by Jain et al. [14] as shown in Table 2.
To some authors, e.g., Fraser [59], Garay [69], and Sharma [65] among others, pump mode-based
prediction methods are reliable, but may need some corrections in particular cases. To some others, e.g.,
Burton and Mulugeta [70], Chaudry [71], and Ventrone and Navarro [72] to mention about, these
methods are solely unreliable, but recognize the pump geometry as the most fundamental parameter to
base on PAT performance predictions, as pump manufacturers dont necessarily provide universally
standardized pumps. It is said that two pumps of same BEP may sometimes have different performance
in their turbine-mode operations.
As a matter of fact, a comparatively small number of researchers have rather opted on using the pump
geometrical design and other hydraulic phenomena to end up with more accurate technics. However, due
to their complexity, these methods were generally not preferred. Away from the researches which was
carried out in the early age of PAT discovery, PAT has remained a hot research topic among professional
and academic communities, where intensive theoretical, experimental and computational studies have
eventually resulted in a big literature about PAT performance prediction, as described in the following
Table 2 performance prediction methods for pump-turbines







Childs [64]






Grover [68]




Sharma [65]






AlatorreFrenk [57]



Sharma [56]




correction factor (q)

Head correction(h)

2.693 0.0229

1.4 +




0.85 + 0.385
2 . + 0.205


Applied for Ns:

Ns: 40-60

1.5 +

+ 0.385




Ns: 40-60

2.379 0.0264






= 240

3.1. Theoretical studies

Pump turbines are a cost-effective alternative for micro-hydro schemes at remote areas. Different
researchers have continuously carried out theoretical, numerical, and experimental studies or sometimes a
combination of some of these methods, to come out with a universal PAT performance prediction method.
A considerable number of published theoretical methods were based either on pump mode performance


Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, Chin a October22-25, 2016

parameters or pump geometric design. This subsection comprises pure theoretical researches and their
combination with other methods.
Hossain et al. [76] carried out a comparative study between two mostly used theoretical PAT
performance prediction methods (Chapallaz et al. [45] and Sharma [65] methods) to get an idea which is
better than the others. Pump hydraulic characteristics were first found through an experiment session on a
4hp DC powered motor pump at a 2900 rpm rotational speed. The experimental results were used to get
PAT performance characteristics, power, and output electrical energy, through the two above mentioned
methods. The study, through a comparative scheme, concluded that Sharma method could only predict
the PAT BEP and power whereas Chapallaz et al. method gave a wide range of operating points from
minimum to maximum deviation, thus providing the access to the information about PAT operation at
and away from BEP. Chapallaz et al. method was found to provide more clear understanding of the PAT
performance characteristics.
Derakhshan et al. [26] have compared three PAT performance prediction methods, viz. Area ratio a
theoretical method developed by Gantar [77] and Anderson [78], numerical, and experimental methods.
Theoretical and numerical prediction results were compared to experimental ones to get an idea which
one predicts well the PAT performance characteristics (at BEP). The pump two operational modes (direct
and reverse modes) numerical simulation was performed through FineTurbo V.7 flow solver, where 3D
full Navier-Stokes equations were solved; the results of which, helped on the pump complete
characteristics curve construction for both modes. An experimental test-rig was constructed as in[55], and
experimental results were compared to both theoretical and numerical predictions. Theoretical methods
predicted values were found slightly lower than experimental data with 1.1%, 4.7%, 5.25%, and 2.1%
deviation for discharge (), Head (), Power (), and efficiency () numbers respectively. CFD results
were in good agreement with experimental results in pump mode, but much lower in turbine mode.
Yang et al. [79] carried out a PAT performance prediction study in which three methods, viz.
theoretical, numerical, and experimental methods, were used. A pump mode-based theoretical prediction
method was developed, the results of which got compared with other theoretical, numerical and
experimental methods. Numerical simulations on both modes (reverse and direct operating modes) were
performed by ANSYS-CFX which is a commercial 3D Navier-stokes CFD software. The selected
turbulence model was k-, where the flow domain was subdivided into four parts, viz. inlet pipe, volute,
impeller, front and back chambers to facilitate the gridding process by ANSYS ICEM. Comparing
experimental results as tested by a Jiangsu University-based test rig, with numerical, theoretical and other
prediction methods results; CFD results were found in good agreement with its two modes experimental
data, whereas a slight difference between experimental and numerical results was noticed. The theoretical
and CFD methods were more accurate than the other two methods (Sharma [65] and Stepanoff [63]
methods), as shown in Fig. 4 and Table 3.
Williams [50] carried out a comparative study of eight different prediction methods on 35 pumps with
specific speeds ranging from 12.7 to 183.3, where the main research focus was the impact of performance
prediction methods errors (deviation between predicted and actual BEP values) on PAT operations. Every
methods credibility was evaluated through a British standard-based prediction coefficient C, for which
acceptable errors were supposed to be equal or inferior to a unity.

2 a

0.3 0.1


a q h



h 2 2 hq


The C value was calculated from an H-Q curve, for which the center coincided with the manufacturerprovided BEP. It was found that none of all evaluated methods was reliable; however, Sharma method
presented better performance than others, thus being the most recommended method. It was also

Maxime Binamaet al. Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance
prediction for micro hydropower schemes: A review

suggested that theoretical prediction methods should be accompanied with experimental ones for their
validity confirmation during PAT installation.



Fig. 4. Comparison between Pump (a) and PAT (b) experimental and numerical results
Table 3 BEP predictions by various methods
Error h (%)
Error q (%)






Carravetta et al. [80] proposed the turbomachinery affinity laws modification scheme to eliminate the
big discrepancy between PAT performance theoretical and experimental prediction methods. In order to
obtain the PAT BEP characteristics at a speed

), the usual turbomachinery affinity laws

were transformed to functions of the ratio (

) as follows:


f 1 MAX

f 3 MAX

f 2 NMAX



Functions , , and were obtained from experimental results on several submersible pumps
operated at different speeds. Using Suter parameters in conjunction with the obtained modified affinity
laws, the decrease of scatter between the calculated and measured values was achieved.
Ramos and Borga [25] carried out a Suter parameters-based steady and transient flow regimes study
aiming at proving the pump physical, economical and technical reliability not only in industrial processes
but also in power generation sector. It was confirmed that using PATs is a good alternative to dissipation
of excess flow energy that, normally would be lost. The study outcomes also showed that, depending on
runner characteristics, PATs efficiency can attain 80%. Induced motors were recommended for large
electric grids, and synchronous motors for isolated operations. For whatever case, PAT was globally
found to be the best economic solution.
3.2. Experimental studies
Raman et al. [81] carried out an experimental study aiming at a better understanding of PAT
characteristics. A centrifugal pump with 15.36, 22m, and 8.31 l/s as specific speed, head, and flow rate
respectively, was tested in a test rig as installed in the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory of the
Universiti Tenaga Nasional. The pump selection process was performed following a reconnaissance
technic as presented by Raman and Hussein [82]; thereafter, the experimental results were compared to


Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, Chin a October22-25, 2016

other previously published researches. The experiment findings were approximately similar to other
methods; although, the specific speed and efficiency values were slightly lower. The pump operation in
turbine mode was found to require high heads and flows compared to the direct mode. It was confirmed
that a centrifugal pump can satisfactorily be operated as turbine without any mechanical problems.
Singh et al. [83] studied the effect of casing eye ribs on the pump turbine hydraulics and performance
characteristics. Two pump models, casing rib absent (CRA) and casing rib present (CRP), were both
numerically and experimentally studied; where commercially available software, CFX, for which the K-
turbulence model was selected, was used for simulations. The PAT flow experimental and numerical
analysis was comparatively carried out for two operating modes, CRA and CRP, at six operating points,
namely, A (51%QBEP), B (70%QBEP), C (88%QBEP), D (100%QBEP), and E (116%QBEP), constituting the
part, full, and over loads. The study results from both methods showed that CRA had higher efficiency
and greater performance for the part-load and overload operations as compared to CRP. A satisfactory
similitude was noticed between experimental and numerical results, where the PAT exhibited good
performance with 82% as the highest attained efficiency.
Nautiyal et al. [48] carried out an experimental study on PAT performance characteristics in the hope
) as
to come out with a more accurate prediction method. The test results on a pump of 18( ,
specific speed, running at 1500rpm, confirmed that, as it had been demonstrated by many other
researchers, the centrifugal pump can surely be used as turbine under various operating conditions, where
the turbine operating mode is always characterized by higher flow rates and heads but with comparatively
lower efficiencies. Together with four other pump models from different researchers, the tested pump
was farther analyzed to come up with a new prediction method based on both pump efficiency and
specific speed. Compared to other prediction methods, the developed method presented better
performance, with comparatively reduced errors (as compared to test results), thus making it the best.
Derakhshan and Nourbakhsh [55], based on experimental results as performed on a mini-hydropower
test rig at the University of Tehran, has developed new correlation equations for PAT BEP prediction.
Four centrifugal pumps in specific speeds range from 14.6 to 55.6 (m,m3/s) were tested, where centrifugal
pumps were again found to fit the turbine operating conditions with comparatively higher heads and
flows and approximately equal efficiencies. The newly developed specific speed-based prediction method
was compared to many others, to only find it exhibited better and acceptable estimates of flow rate and
head for pumps with specific speeds higher than 60 (m,m3/s). It was also demonstrated that between two
pumps with same specific speed, the one with bigger impeller diameter has higher efficiency. Also the
higher the flow and head they exhibit, the more efficient they become. A better PAT selection procedure
for a specific site was also proposed.
Singh and Franz [84] developed a new consolidated model from experimental results on many pumps
of different shapes (20-80rpm), mainly targeting its parsimony on PAT performance prediction, selection ,
and evaluation, which are its three main segments; in order to find a lasting solution for PATs modelling
and establish a new basis of evaluating uncertainties, based on fundamental theory of turbomachines. The
prediction segment required the pump shape and size to come out with complete PAT performance
characteristics. The selection segment required only the site head and flow data to determine the suitable
pumps for specific sites. And finally, the evaluation segment compared the selected pumps and their
characteristics to decide the most suitable PAT for specific operating conditions. The developed
consolidated model, from obtained test results and related analysis, through many modelling acrobatics,
contributed to the economic feature, needing a small number of parameters to give the complete and
accurate PAT predictions.
Yang et al. [85] studied the influence of rotational speed to the PAT performance. In this paper, a
rotational speed-based theoretical PAT performance prediction method was first developed where new
correlation equations for flow rate, head, and shaft power; were developed as shown:

Maxime Binamaet al. Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance
prediction for micro hydropower schemes: A review

Q 1 n1

Q 2 n2

H1 n1
P1 n1
H2 n2
P 2 n 2
Where the subscripts 1 and 2 stand for first and next operating conditions in terms of speed.
Experiments were carried out on a Jiangsu University based-test rig at different rotational speeds, viz.
1000rpm, 1200rpm, 1500rpm, and 1800rpm. And finally, the PAT model was numerically analyzed. The
numerical study was performed by a CFD commercial code Ansys CFX, where the k- turbulence model
was adopted, and static pressure inlet and mass flow rate outlet were selected as inlet and outlet boundary
conditions respectively. Test, numerical, and theoretical results were in a quite acceptable agreement.
However numerically predicted efficiency, head, shaft power values tended to be slightly higher than test
ones by 4.85%, 2.31%, 5.39% respectively. Nevertheless, theoretical results were higher than the two
first, where wider deviation was found in Shaft power predictions. The developed theoretical method was
found reliable but needing some perfections to get even better results.
3.3. Numerical studies
Many researchers have shown that CFD analysis is a reliable tool to predict the behavior of a pump
machine operating as a turbine and to estimate the performance curves of the turbomachinery[86]. With
CFD, complex fluid flow behaviors inside the PAT can be virtually previewed, which can substantially
reduce both the design time and cost. A big number of studies have been carried out aiming at PAT flow
characteristics understanding and performance prediction.
Ismail et al. [87] tested an end suction centrifugal pump by means of CFD simulations to determine its
performance characteristics in both direct and reverse modes. The CFD modelling and simulations were
performed by Ansys CFX14.0, where the K- was selected for flow turbulence modelling in a pump of
70 units (Euroflo EU50-20) as specific speed and working at a rotational speed of 1450rpm. The
computational domain was divided into three parts, viz. volute, impeller and draft tube; where inlet and
outlet boundary conditions were set to mass flow rate inlet and static pressure out respectively. However,
the reverse mode simulations had to be run at 1550 rpm in accordance with the used induction
generators speed. The flow simulations were then run at flows varying from 0.7 to 1.3 QBEP. After
comparing both modes CFD predicted results to pump manufacture-provided ones, it was observed that
BEP was attained at higher flows and heads in turbine than pump mode. However efficiency was found
higher in pump mode (72.63% against 71.62%). Numerical simulation method was confirmed viable for
PAT performance prediction.
Pascoa et al. [88] carried out a numerical study on a centrifugal pump to check the validity of three
randomly selected theoretical correlation methods, viz. stepanoff, Sharma, and Viana methods. In this
study, through a CFD commercial code Ansys Fluent, the flow in a NNJ125-250 pump was modelled,
where Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes (RANS) equations were solved through Spalart-Allmaras
turbulence model. PISO algorithm was used for pressure-velocity coupling and stagnation pressure in and
static pressure out were chosen for inlet and outlet boundary conditions respectively. Theoretical results
were compared to computational ones, where an acceptable agreement was finally noticed between both.
A new approach for PAT power plant design was also developed; where at each constant head, it was
now possible and easy to know the most efficient PAT rotational speed. All computational results in this
paper were achieved through a frozen rotor approach.
Nautiyal et al. [89] presented a review of some already published works on PAT performance
prediction through CFD. It was shown that CFD usage in the area of turbomachines has seen extensive
growth in recent decades. Generally manufacturers dont provide performance and flow characteristics of
their pumps in turbine mode; so CFD has been a recent attempt for PAT performance prediction. It was
mentioned that CFD made it possible to identify losses in different parts of PAT. However, there have
been discrepancies between numerical and experimental predictions mainly from geometry simplification



Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, Chin a October22-25, 2016

in computational studies, as reported in this paper. Nevertheless, it was pointed out that, numerical
predictions accuracy would also depend on grid quality and numerical methods and used turbulence
models. CFD was generally acknowledged as an effective design tool for PAT performance prediction.
Rawal and Kshirsagar [90] carried out a study through both numerical and experimental methods on a
mixed flow pump with the objective of analyzing the accuracy of computational tools for PAT studies.
The PAT flow was first numerically studied at five different flows, viz. 60%, 80%, 100%, 120%, and 140%
of the BEP flow at a rotational speed of 1450rpm. The k- turbulence model was adopted, where the
chosen inlet and outlet boundary conditions were total pressure in and flow rate out, respectively. The
experimental part was run at a test facility based at a major University in Karlsruhe, German. The single
stage mixed flow pump with four mixed flow vanes was tested at three different speeds, viz. 800rpm,
900rpm, and 1000rpm, under flows ranging from no load to maximum load. The agreement between
computational and test results has been satisfactory. The numerical approach served in the identification
of losses in PATs different parts, and it was suggested that the use of finer mesh, better numerical
methods and turbulence models, could improve on the numerical results accuracy.
Barrio et al. [91] presented a numerical study on a centrifugal pump with twisted backwards curved
blades in both direct and reverse operating modes, aiming at the investigation of global flow
characteristics within the machine at different flow rates. A CFD commercial code Ansys Fluent was
used together with k- turbulence model to solve the full unsteady RANS equations, with total pressure
in variable static pressure out and constant total pressure in constant pressure out, as boundary
conditions in pump and turbine mode respectively. After comparison between numerical and
experimental results, an agreement between both was quite satisfactory with maximum errors less than
4%. However flow recirculation and backflow regions were noticed at off-design flow rates in the reverse
operating mode.
Jovanovi et al. [92] presented a comparative study between numerical and experimental results on a
centrifugal pump running in both reverse and direct modes. In this paper, different PAT usages and
performance prediction methods were discussed. From its different advantages over other mostly used
methods, namely theoretical and experimental methods, CFD method was confirmed very effective for
PAT flow studies. An example computational case-study was run through Ansys CFX commercial code,
together with K- turbulence model for both modes, where extracted results were compared to collected
experimental ones. Different frequently met problems in computational method usage were pointed out as
well as their respective way outs. There was a good agreement between test and numerical results with
comparatively small errors (less than4%).
Milan et al. [93] simulated the flow in the middle stage of a radial-flow multistage PAT to get the
flow pattern information for efficiency improvement through geometrical modifications if by any means
needed. CFD commercial code Ansys CFX was used to solve the fully unsteady three dimensional RANS
equations together with the shear stress transport (SST) turbulence model. The studied flow domain
consisted of a six blades impeller with two different diameters (full and reduced) and an eight channels
stator, where the selected boundary conditions were the flow rate and average static pressure for inlet and
outlet boundary conditions respectively, for the turbine operational mode. Six interfaces, three rotorstator and three stator-rotor interfaces, were used between rotor and stator, and the analysis was carried
out at different rotational speeds and flow rates. The numerical results were in good agreement with
experimental ones with an error of about 13% from the neglected loss estimations in the numerical study.
Full diameter impeller version showed a comparatively better performance, and it was found that the
multistage pump doesnt need any modification to become more efficient as it could get sufficiently
higher efficiencies, unmodified.
4. Pump-turbine performance improvement attempts


Maxime Binamaet al. Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance
prediction for micro hydropower schemes: A review

Patel et al. [94] experimentally studied the effect of impeller modification on PAT performance. The
main objective was to compare the PAT efficiency as well as other performance parameters before and
after impeller modification. Different modifications were made, viz. impeller edges rounding, hub and
shroud extremities rounding, and material removal at the impeller exit areas; after which, the modified
model was tested at a constant speed of 1100rpm under continually varied loads. After comparing the
modified against unmodified model performances, it was reported that the modified model exhibited
comparatively higher efficiency, where the BEP head and power were attained at lower flow rates. It was
then demonstrated that the rounded edges impeller would make a more efficient PAT.
Yang et al. [95] carried out a study on the influence of impeller blade thickness on PAT performance.
Three impellers with different design parameters (Table 4) were experimentally and numerically
analyzed, and through a comparative scheme, their performance characteristics were discussed. Owing to
its robustness and fast convergence, the CFD commercial code Ansys CFX, was chosen to solve steady
state Navier-Stokes equations together with standard k- turbulence model. The selected inlet and outlet
boundary conditions were static pressure in and mass flow out respectively, with continuously changed
flow to come up with the complete PAT performance curve. Ansys ICEM was used for flow domain grid
generation. The PAT experimental tests were run at a Jiangsu University based test rig, the results of
which got compared to numerical ones. Both methods predictions were in an acceptably good agreement.
It was found that both pressure head and shaft power increased, whereas the efficiency decreased with the
blade thickness increase (Fig. 9), therefore a small blade-thickness possible was recommended as long as
its strength is not compromised.





Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, Chin a October22-25, 2016

Fig. 9. Performance curves of PATs with different blade thicknesses a) Ns=57
c) Ns=168 [95]

b) Ns=119

Table 4. Design parameters of the PAT

Q/ m3h-1

n/r min-1



Giosio et al. [96] presented an experimental study aiming at improving the PAT operating conditions
by flow regulation facility incorporation thus eliminating a widely known PAT problem of inflexibility
towards flow regime fluctuations. A suitable pump was first selected using Sharma method and got
installed inside the customized housing provided with flow regulation facility, and guide vane assembly
consisting of 13 hydrofoil shaped vanes; at a micro-hydro test rig based at the University of Tasmania.
For the construction of the PAT efficiency hill chart, the steady state flow test was performed at different
guide vane openings ranging from 20 to 35 corresponding to 53% to 92% of full stroke, and net
specific energy values ranging from 34j/kg to 83.3kg/j with 5j/kg repetitive increments. The prediction
results for pump rated operation, Sharma prediction method, and presented experimental test; as well as
the experimental tests-resulted efficiency hill chart are shown in Table 5 and Fig. 10 respectively. The
tested impeller exhibited a maximum overall efficiency of 79% in good agreement with PAT theory, and
it has been able to operate within a big range of flow conditions.
Table 5 . Best efficiency values of the selected PAT operating as a pump, turbine predicted, and turbine
actual [96]
Values of BEP
Pump as rated
Turbine predicted
Turbine actual

Nq [-]

H [m]

Q [m3/s]


N [rpm]

P [KW]


Maxime Binamaet al. Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance
prediction for micro hydropower schemes: A review

Fig. 3. Performance Hill chart of the micro-hydro turbine unit [96]

Sheng et al. [97] studied the influence of impeller trimming on PAT performance through
experimental and numerical methods. Note that impeller trimming is generally aimed at pump
performance improvement whenever there is pressure head or flow rate drop. Three PAT models with
full, once-trimmed, and twice-trimmed impellers, were tested at the same rotational speed of 1500rpm in
both turbine and pump modes with 0.57%, 0.50%, 0.76%, 1.2%, 1.27% and 0.14%, 0.50%,
0.52%, 1.08%, 1.20%; as respective pressure head, flow rate, hydraulic power, generated shaft power,
and efficiency measured uncertainties, at a Jiangsu University-based test rig. The steady state numerical
research was carried out through a CFD code Ansys CFX, where the k- turbulence model was used, and
static pressure in and mass flow rate out were chosen as inlet and outlet boundary conditions. The
experimental results showed the PAT efficiency drop of about 4.11% from full to twice-trimmed impeller
diameter. Numerical predictions were in an acceptable agreement with experimental ones, yet
comparatively higher, from the neglected losses in numerical analysis. The PAT performance variation
was the combined effect of four driving parameters, viz. impeller diameter, blade wrap angle, blade
thickness, and inlet blade angle.
Sanjay et al. [98] carried out an experimental study to optimize the PAT geometrical and operational
parameters, viz. impeller diameter, blade tip rounding, and impeller rotational speed. Experiments were
carried out on a selected centrifugal pump of 20m, 0.0292m3/s, 1400rpm, and 75% as rated head,
discharge, speed, and efficiency, at a Nirma University-based test rig. Tests were run at a wide range of
rotational speeds from 900rpm to 1500rpm on PATs with original, 10%, and 20% trimmed impellers
(250mm, 225mm, and 200mm as respective diameters), before and after blade edge curving. Every test
was run three times and the parameter mean values were considered. From test findings,
recommendations were given. However they were more specific to this research case, thus requiring a
generalization process to a wide range of PAT geometrical and operational conditions. The highest
efficiency (76.93%) was record at a 10% trimmed impeller running at 1100rpm. Finally an empirical
correlation was developed and gave the efficiency predictions in the range of 10% compared to
experimental ones. Impeller trimming and blade rounding led to a better part load performance and
efficiency increase about 3-4% respectively.
Derakhshan et al. [99], using the gradient-based optimization as presented in his previous publication
[100], modified the impeller blade geometric design to improve the PAT maximum efficiency. The blade



Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, Chin a October22-25, 2016

design was firstly optimized through a gradient-based optimization technique, coupled with a 3D NavierStokes flow solver, after which the optimized impeller blades got rounded and experimentally tested for
further analysis. FINE/TURBO was used for simulations and k- turbulence model was selected to solve
the flow RANS equations, where mass flow rate in and static pressure out were the chosen inlet and
outlet boundary conditions respectively. The tested pump was a low specific speed centrifugal pump
(23.5m, m3/s), with a turbine mode rotational speed of 1500rpm. The test measurement uncertainty
analysis was carried out through Moffat technique[101], where 5.5%, 3.4%, 5.1%, and 5.5% were
respective head, flow rate, power, and efficiency uncertainties. The optimization process raised the PAT
performance, but the rounded PAT version exhibited even higher performance compared to both initial
and optimized versions. Both modifications contributed to the efficiency improvement in the range from
3% to 5%. Impeller modification was found a reliable performance improvement method within PATs.
Suarda et al. [53] presented an experimental study on a small volute-type centrifugal pump, aiming at
pump reverse mode efficiency improvement by modifying the shape of impeller blade tips into bullet
nose-like shape. A small volute-type centrifugal pump having 0.13m3/sec, 13m, and 0.4Kw as maximum
discharge, head, and motor power respectively; has been tested under various flow rates, for both original
and modified impellers, at Huai Kra Thing village site. Experiment results showed an increase in both
power and efficiency for the modified impeller. The maximum efficiency shifted from 34.34% (before
modification) to 37.5% (after modification) with a comparatively lower BEP flow rate (0.00149m3/sec
against 0.002m3/s). Flow turbulences at the impeller inlet were also substantially decreased. This method
was mostly recommended for large capacity PATs, where remarkable improvements can be noticed;
rather than in small pumps, as their performance improvement would be as small as ineffective.
Yang et al. [102] carried out a numerical study about the influence of the radial gap between the
impeller and the stationary volute to both the PAT performance and PAT pressure fields characteristics.
A CFD steady state simulation was first carried out on PATs with different radial gaps, viz. 0.062D2,
0.145D2, and 0.224D2 (D2:impeller inlet diameter) at a rotational speed of 1500rpm. Ansys CFX code
was used, and k- turbulence model was adopted; where static pressure in and mass flow out were chosen
for inlet and outlet boundary conditions respectively. By continually changing the flow rate, PAT
performance curves were achieved; where it was found that 0.145D2 was the optimum radial gap as it
exhibited the highest efficiency (69.18%) at BEP (Fig. 12). For the next step, monitoring points were set
in the inlet pipe, volute, and blade flow passages and the unsteady PAT flow simulation was performed,
aiming at analyzing the pressure fields in the PAT flow domain. The rotor-stator interaction created both
high and low frequency unsteady pressure fluctuations in volute and impeller respectively. However, due
to volute high frequency fluctuations propagation towards the impeller channels and inlet pipe; impeller
pressure fields were a combination of both kinds. With the radial gap increase, volute pressure pulsation
amplitudes decreased, whereas the impeller situation remained unchanged.


Maxime Binamaet al. Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance
prediction for micro hydropower schemes: A review

Fig. 12. Performance curves of the PAT with different radial gaps[102]
Yang et al. [103], through experimental, numerical, and theoretical methods, investigated the effect of
impeller diameter on PAT performance. Experimental tests were performed on a single stage centrifugal
pump with a rotational speed of 1500rpm, with different impeller diameters namely 215mm, 235mm, and
255mm respectively. Both power and efficiency increased after BEP while the Head dropped with
impeller diameter increase. However the PAT efficiency, shaft power, pressure head, and flow; all
increased in the range from 10.26% to 89.39%, for an impeller diameter increase from 215mm to 255mm,
at BEP. Simulation results were in a quite good agreement with experimental ones; yet small
discrepancies were noticed, mainly from some neglected losses. Also hydraulic losses were globally
noticed to have been decreasing with the impeller diameter increase. Theoretical method over-predicted
the BEP characteristics as compared to experimental findings, therefore, they were only recommended
for PAT BEP rough estimations.
This paper presented a literature review from previously published works on pump-turbine technical
aspects namely pump-turbine selection and performance prediction, where the following conclusions are
a. By inversing their fluid flow direction, pumps can work effectively for power generation without any
mechanical failures, and present many advantages over conventional turbines, especially in off-grid
energy systems.
b. Pump- turbines operate poorly under part-load conditions and their efficiency is usually lower or
equal to conventional turbines. However, their global adoption is more about economic profits rather
than performance efficiency.
c. A great deal of studies have been carried out on pump-turbine performance prediction but in vain as
there is no universal prediction method applicable to a wide range of specific speeds yet found.
However, their performance can still be improved through impeller design modifications, where
blade rounding is so far the most promising technic
Further research initiatives are still needed in the future for a complete understanding, leading to the
eventual elimination of the remaining gaps; where more parameters, be it design or operational, need to
even deeply be checked; all leading to more ability to make the pump-turbine technology not only
economically reliable but also technically efficient.



Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, Chin a October22-25, 2016

This work is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (51506037, 51276046,
71390522), Foundation for Innovative Research Groups of the National Natural Science Foundation of
China (51421063), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities




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