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Net Positive Suction Head - NPSH

Suction Cavitation
Suction Cavitation occurs when the pump suction is under a low pressure/high vacuum condition where
the liquid turns into a vapor at the eye of the pump impeller. This vapor is carried over to the discharge
side of the pump where it no longer sees vacuum and is compressed back into a liquid by the discharge
pressure. This imploding action occurs violently and attacks the face of the impeller. An impeller that has
been operating under a suction cavitation condition has large chunks of material removed from its face
causing premature failure of the pump.

Discharge Cavitation
Discharge Cavitation occurs when the pump discharge is extremely high. It normally occurs in a pump that is running
at less than 10% of its best efficiency point. The high discharge pressure causes the majority of the fluid to circulate
inside the pump instead of being allowed to flow out the discharge. As the liquid flows around the impeller it must
pass through the small clearance between the impeller and the pump cutwater at extremely high velocity. This
velocity causes a vacuum to develop at the cutwater similar to what occurs in a venturi and turns the liquid into a
vapor. A pump that has been operating under these conditions shows premature wear of the impeller vane tips and
the pump cutwater. In addition due to the high pressure condition premature failure of the pump mechanical seal and
bearings can be expected and under extreme conditions will break the impeller shaft.

NPSH is an acronym for Net Positive Suction Head. It shows the difference, in any cross-section of a
generic hydraulic circuit, between the pressure and the liquid vapor pressure in that section.
NPSH is an important parameter, to be taken into account when designing a circuit : whenever the liquid
stagnation pressure drops below the vapor pressure, liquid boiling occurs, and the final effect will be
cavitation: vapor bubbles may reduce or stop the liquid flow. Centrifugal pumps are particularly
vulnerable, whereas positive displacement pumps are immune to that and they are generally able to
pump mixtures of gases and liquids. Apart from that, cavitation results in elevated noise levels and
possible damage to the pump.
Considering the circuit shown in the picture, in 1-1 NPSH is :
NPSH = P0 + H Y Vt
(to be solved with coherent measuring units), where Y is the friction loss between 0-0 and 1-1, and Vt the
liquid vapour pressure at the actual temperature in section 1-1.
In pump operation, two aspects of this parameter are called respectively NPSHA or NPSH (a) Net
Positive Suction Head (available) and NPSHR or NPSH(r) Net Positive Suction Head (required), where
NPSH(a) is computed at pump inlet port, and NPSH(r) is the NPSH limit the pump can withstand without
cavitating.
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPSH"
Low pressure at the suction side of a pump can encounter the fluid to start boiling with

reduced efficiency

cavitation

damage
of the pump as a result. Boiling starts when the pressure in the liquid is reduced to the vapor pressure of the
fluid at the actual temperature.

To characterize the potential for boiling and cavitation, the difference between the total head on the suction side
of the pump - close to the impeller, and the liquid vapor pressure at the actual temperature, can be used.

Suction Head
Based on the Energy Equation - the suction head in the fluid close to the impeller can be expressed as the
sum of the static and the velocity head:
hs = ps / + vs2 / 2 g (1)
where
hs = suction head close to the impeller
ps = static pressure in the fluid close to the impeller
= specific weight of the fluid
vs = velocity of fluid
g = acceleration of gravity

Liquids Vapor Head


The liquids vapor head at the actual temperature can be expressed as:
hv = pv / (2)
where
hv = vapor head
pv = vapor pressure
Note! The vapor pressure in a fluid depends on temperature. Water, our most common fluid, starts boiling at 20
o
C if the absolute pressure in the fluid is 2,3 kN/m2. For an absolute pressure of 47,5 N/m2, the water starts
boiling at 80 oC. At an absolute pressure of 101.3 kN/m2 (normal atmosphere), the boiling starts at 100 oC.

Net Positive Suction Head - NPSH


The Net Positive Suction Head - NPSH - can be expressed as the difference between the Suction Head and
the Liquids Vapor Head and expressed like
NPSH = hs - hv (3)
or, by combining (1) and (2)

NPSH = ps / + vs2 / 2 g - pv / (3b)

Odavde se dobija vrednost minimalnog pritisaka na usisu u pumpu ps, baziran na max.potrebnom
protoku:

ps (NPSHR + HS)**g (**vS2) + pv - patm

pS minimalni ulazni pritisak u pumpu (u barima), izraen kao relativni u odnosu na atmosferski
pritisak,
NPSHR Traena Net Positive Suction Head (u mVS), oitava se iz NPSH-krivih pri najveem protoku
koji pumpa moe da ostvari (podatak koji daje konstruktor pumpi),
HS sigurnosni dodatak, minimum 0.5mVS (napomena: sigurnosni dodatak od 0.5mVS spreava
pad pritiska),
- gustina fluida (kg/m3),
g- gravitaciono ubrzanje (9.81 m/s2),
vS - brzina fluida na usisnoj strani pumpe (m/s),
pV - pritisak pare u barima, u zavisnosti od temperature fluida (Recnagel 95. str.104,105),
patm - atmosferski pritisak u barima.

Available NPSH - NPSHa


The Net Positive Suction Head made available the suction system for the pump is often named NPSH a. The
NPSHa can be determined during design and construction, or determined experimentally from the actual
physical system.

The available NPSHa can be calculated with the Energy Equation. For a common application - where the pump
lifts a fluid from an open tank at one level to an other, the energy or head at the surface of the tank is the same
as the energy or head before the pump impeller and can be expressed as:
h0 = hs + hl (4)
where
h0 = head at surface
hs = head before the impeller
hl = head loss from the surface to impeller - major and minor loss in the suction pipe
In an open tank the head at surface can be expressed as:
h0 = p0 / = patm / (4b)
For a closed pressurized tank the absolute static pressure inside the tank must be used (pSTAT).
The head before the impeller can be expressed as:
hs = ps / + vs2 / 2 g + he (4c)
where
he = elevation from surface to pump - positive if pump is above the tank, negative if the pump is below the tank
Transforming (4) with (4b) and (4c):
patm / = ps / + vs2 / 2 g + he + hl (4d)
The head available before the impeller can be expressed as:
ps / + vs2 / 2 g = patm / - he - hl (4e)
or as the available NPSHa:

NPSHa = patm / - he - hl - pv / (4f) uoptena formula za otvorene sisteme

NPSHa = pSTAT / - he - hl - pv / (4f) uoptena formula za zatvorene sisteme

Komentar:
Za sluaj da je ekspanzioni sud povezan na usisnoj strani pumpe u neposrednoj blizini same pumpe (tj. pritisak
se odava na usisnoj strani pumpe), tada sabirci he hl iz gornjeg izraza za NPSHa su zanemarljivi, tako da
formula dobija oblik formule za NPSHR sa prethodne strane. Ovi sabirci se uzimaju u obzir kada je veza
ekspanzionog suda sa instalacijom udaljena od pumpe i horizontalno i vertikalno.

Available NPSHa - the Pump is above the Tank


If the pump is positioned above the tank, the elevation - he - is positive and the NPSHa decreases when the
elevation of the pump increases.
At some level the NPSHa will be reduced to zero and the fluid starts to evaporate.

Available NPSHa - the Pump is below the Tank


If the pump is positioned below the tank, the elevation - he - is negative and the NPSHa increases when the
elevation of the pump decreases (lowering the pump).
It's always possible to increase the NPSHa by lowering the pump (as long as the major and minor head loss
due to a longer pipe don't increase it more). This is important and it is common to lower the pump when
pumping fluids close to evaporation temperature.

Required NPSH - NPSHr


The NPSHr, called as the Net Suction Head as required by the pump in order to prevent cavitation for safe and
reliable operation of the pump.
The required NPSHr for a particular pump is in general determined experimentally by the pump manufacturer
and a part of the documentation of the pump.
The available NPSHa of the system should always exceeded the required NPSH r of the pump to avoid
vaporization and cavitation of the impellers eye. The available NPSH a should in general be significant higher
than the required NPSHr to avoid that head loss in the suction pipe and in the pump casing, local velocity
accelerations and pressure decreases, start boiling the fluid on the impeller surface.
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Iz predavanja prof.Miloa Nedeljkovia (16.06.2008.)
NPSHr kavitacijska rezerva pumpe

p tot , s p D
NPSH r
g min
NPSHa kavitacijska rezerva postrojenja
2
p pb p D ve
NPSH a e z e z s H Ves
g 2g
Napomena: HVes gubici (srazmerni ~ D5).
Treba traiti pumpu sa to manjim NPSHr, a da projektujemo postrojenje sa to veim NPSHa.
NPSHa treba da je vee od NPSHr.
Vie se nalazi na prateem CD-u.
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Note that the required NPSHr increases with the square capacity.
Pumps with double-suction impellers has lower NPSH r than pumps with single-suction impellers. A pump with a
double-suction impeller is considered hydraulically balanced but is susceptible to an uneven flow on both sides
with improper pipe-work.

Example - Pumping Water from an Open Tank


When increasing the the elevation for a pump located above a tank, the fluid will start to evaporate at a
maximum level for the actual temperature.
At the maximum elevation NPSHa is zero. The maximum elevation can therefore be expressed by (4f):
NPSHa = patm / - he - hl - pv / = 0
For optimal theoretical conditions we neglect the major and minor head loss. The elevation head can then be
expressed as:
he = patm / - pv / (5)
The maximum elevation or suction head for an open tank depends on the atmospheric pressure - which in
general can be regarded as constant, and the vapor pressure of the fluid - which in general vary with
temperature, especially for water.
The absolute vapor pressure of water at temperature 20 oC is 2.3 kN/m2. The maximum theoretical elevation
height is therefore:
he = (101.33 kN/m2) / (9.80 kN/m3) - (2.3 kN/m2) / (9.80 kN/m3)
= 10.1 m
Due to the head loss in the suction pipe and the local conditions inside the pump - the theoretical maximum
elevation is significantly decreased.
The maximum theoretical elevation of a pump above an open water tank at different temperatures can be
found from the table below:

Vapor Pressure Max. elevation


Temperature (kN/m2) (m)
(oC)

0 0.6 10.3

5 0.9 10.2

10 1.2 10.2

15 1.7 10.2

20 2.3 10.1

25 3.2 10.0

30 4.3 9.9

35 5.6 9.8

40 7.7 9.5

45 9.6 9.4

50 12.5 9.1

55 15.7 8.7

60 20 8.3

65 25 7.8

70 32.1 7.1

75 38.6 6.4

80 47.5 5.5

85 57.8 4.4

90 70 3.2

95 84.5 1.7

100 101.33 0.0