Experimental and Numerical Investigation of Stall Mechanism in Centrifugal Pump Impeller

Document Type : Regular Article


1 College of Water Resources and Civil Engineering, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China

2 Beijing Engineering Research Center of Safety and Energy Saving Technology for Water Supply Network System, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China



Stall is a complex flow phenomenon in centrifugal pumps at part load conditions. However, there is no clear description of the stall evolution process and mechanism, which is critical for stall control. Based on a high-frequency Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) system (10k Hz) and a non-refraction experimental bench, emphasis is laid on the flow structures near the initial stall conditions. The results show that as the flow rate decreased, the flow separation occurred at the middle of the blade suction side and then evolved into a stall vortex which moved to the impeller’s inlet direction and kept growing. Subsequently, it broken into two vortexes when reaching the location where the impeller cross-sectional area is the smallest. One stall vortex continued its motion toward the passage inlet direction, while the other vortex separates to the impeller outlet. As the stall vortex’s size at the impeller inlet enlarged, the flow incident direction at the impeller inlet was directed to the blade suction side, which caused the stall vortex on the suction side to disappear. The stall mechanism is explained in detail using both experiments and numerical simulations. Meanwhile, the Scale Adaptive Simulation-Shear Stress Transport (SAS-SST) hybrid model is used to simulate several flow rate conditions near the stall initial stage. The findings indicate that the increasing adverse pressure gradient and the high-pressure zone move along the suction blade towards the impeller inlet as the flow rate is reduced; however, the relative velocity is constantly decreasing. When the fluid can’t provide enough kinetic energy to maintain its continuous flow along the suction surface, flow separation occurs. The stall vortex, which results from flow separation, blocks the passage impeller. The increasing adverse pressure from the impeller outlet to the inlet is the main cause of flow separation; and the adverse pressure gradient is a major manifestation of the stall vortex.


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Volume 15, Issue 3 - Serial Number 64
May and June 2022
Pages 927-941
  • Received: 06 July 2021
  • Revised: 22 December 2021
  • Accepted: 25 December 2021
  • First Publish Date: 25 March 2022