This work will demonstrate how the Energy Recovery Inc. (ERI) engineering team improved the efficiency of a multistage pump by about 10% at the first stage, which translated into a 3% increase in the overall multistage pump efficiency; according to a set of engineering calculations and review of the archived in-house test data for the legacy multistage pumps, it was hypothesized that the performance pain-point of the pump was inefficient performance of the first stage, due to the formation of a strong pre-swirl right before its inlet. The validity of this hypothesis then was confirmed via RANS CFD simulations of the flow field inside the inlet suction housing and pump impeller. Same CFD methodology was used to evaluate multiple engineering solutions to reduce the strength of the inflow pre-swirl by modifying the inlet suction housing geometry. The obtained RANS CFD solutions guided the engineering team towards the most promising hardware modification proposal. The proposed geometrical modification of the inlet suction housing was implemented and tested on different multistage pumps. All of the test results validated the obtained RANS CFD numerical solution.
The state of the art in this successful performance improvement process was first the on-point hypothesis development based on fundamentals of engineering and archived test data. Second, the proper RANS CFD methodology development to model/confirm the initial hypothesis and vet all possible engineering solutions to maximize the multistage pump efficiently and accurately. This can be a great example for various relevant turbomachinery industrial applications.