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Major Failure Modes of Centrifugal Pumps

Centrifugal Pumps

Centrifugal pumps are devices that are used to transport fluids by the conversion of rotational kinetic energy to the hydrodynamic energy of the fluid flow. The rotational energy typically comes from an electric motor or steam turbine (in case of turbine-driven feedwater pumps). Centrifugal pumps are used in more industrial applications than any other kind of pump. The most common centrifugal pump is the volute pump.

Major Failure Modes of Centrifugal Pumps

Since centrifugal pumps are one of the world’s most widely used types of pumps, their operational parameters and also their vulnerabilities are well known. This article reviews the major failure modes that are found in centrifugal pumps. In general, pump failures result in operational changes that reduce efficiency or may result in a pump breakdown. The reliability of hydraulic systems and also centrifugal pumps are of the highest importance in nuclear engineering.

The failure modes of centrifugal pumps can be grouped into three categories:

Hydraulic Failure Modes

  • Cavitation. Cavitation is, in many cases, an undesirable occurrence in centrifugal pumps. Cavitation causes damage to components (erosion of the material), vibrations, noise, and a loss of efficiency.
  • Pressure Pulsation.  Pressure pulsations are fluctuations in the basic pressure. For high-head pumps, suction and discharge pressure pulsations may cause instability of pump controls, a vibration of suction and discharge piping, and high pump noise levels.
  • Pump Recirculation. A pump operating at lower capacity than design limits can suffer from recirculation which occurs internally in the pumps. Pump recirculation can cause surging and cavitation even when the available NPSHa exceeds the supplier’s NPSHr by a considerable margin.
  • Radial and Axial Thrust. The high radial thrust resulting in excessive shaft deflections may lead to persistent packing or mechanical seal problems and possibly shaft failure. Axial thrust is imposed along the shaft axis. High axial thrust may impose an excessive load on the bearing.

Mechanical Failure Modes

  • Shaft Seizure or Break
  • Bearing Failure
  • Seal Failure
  • Vibrations
  • Fatigue

Other Failure Modes

  • Erosion
  • Corrosion
Reactor Physics and Thermal Hydraulics:
  1. J. R. Lamarsh, Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Theory, 2nd ed., Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA (1983).
  2. J. R. Lamarsh, A. J. Baratta, Introduction to Nuclear Engineering, 3d ed., Prentice-Hall, 2001, ISBN: 0-201-82498-1.
  3. W. M. Stacey, Nuclear Reactor Physics, John Wiley & Sons, 2001, ISBN: 0- 471-39127-1.
  4. Glasstone, Sesonske. Nuclear Reactor Engineering: Reactor Systems Engineering, Springer; 4th edition, 1994, ISBN: 978-0412985317
  5. Todreas Neil E., Kazimi Mujid S. Nuclear Systems Volume I: Thermal Hydraulic Fundamentals, Second Edition. CRC Press; 2 edition, 2012, ISBN: 978-0415802871
  6. Zohuri B., McDaniel P. Thermodynamics in Nuclear Power Plant Systems. Springer; 2015, ISBN: 978-3-319-13419-2
  7. Moran Michal J., Shapiro Howard N. Fundamentals of Engineering Thermodynamics, Fifth Edition, John Wiley & Sons, 2006, ISBN: 978-0-470-03037-0
  8. Kleinstreuer C. Modern Fluid Dynamics. Springer, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4020-8670-0.
  9. U.S. Department of Energy, THERMODYNAMICS, HEAT TRANSFER, AND FLUID FLOW. DOE Fundamentals Handbook, Volume 1, 2 and 3. June 1992.
  10. White Frank M., Fluid Mechanics, McGraw-Hill Education, 7th edition, February, 2010, ISBN: 978-0077422417

See above:

Centrifugal Pumps