Benefits of Installing Restrictive Orifice Plates on the Suction of Reciprocating Pumps: 1D Pulsation and CFD Studies
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It is well understood that static pressure at the inlet of reciprocating pumps, quantified typically by Net Positive Suction Head Available (NPSHA), must be sufficient to avoid cavitation in the pump suction manifold and chamber. In an effort to conserve NPSHA, pump designers generally rely on rules of thumb that resist the addition of pressure drop elements such as restrictive orifice plates, choke tubes and line-size reductions to the inlet piping of all pumps, including reciprocating pumps. Another design consideration of reciprocating pumps is the generation of pressure pulsations due to pump piston and valve motion. Uncontrolled pulsations can result in cavitation and vibration-related fatigue failures. In many cases, pressure drop elements are required to control pressure pulsations. Can there be a balance between the pulsation control benefits of pressure drop elements and the need to meet NPSHA? This paper is of interest to designers and engineers working with reciprocating pump installations. It aims at challenging industry resistance to using pressure drop elements in the suction piping of reciprocating pumps by, first, outlining the virtues achieved in terms of pulsation and vibration control, and second, presenting results from numerical simulations (one-dimensional pulsation and detailed CFD modelling). Recent field data from a quintuplex pump installation were used to validate the 1-D pulsation model. The results show that well-designed orifice plates, and other pressure drop elements, are beneficial for reducing pulsations and cavitation risks; and can be used in the suction piping of reciprocating pumps.
Crowther, Paul; Chen, Zixiang; Ijeomah, Cajetan; Grose, Jordan (2018). Benefits of Installing Restrictive Orifice Plates on the Suction of Reciprocating Pumps: 1D Pulsation and CFD Studies. Turbomachinery Laboratory, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. Available electronically from