Numerical and experimental investigation of tip leakage vortex trajectory and dynamics in an axial flow pump

Desheng Zhang, Weidong Shi, B. P.M. van Esch, Lei Shi, Michel Dubuisson

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Tip leakage vortex (TLV) in an axial flow pump was simulated by using the shear-stress transport (SST) k-ω turbulence model with a refined high-quality structured grid at different flow rate conditions. The TLV trajectories were obtained by using the swirling strength method corresponding to the cross-sections of streamlines of the TLV. High-speed photography experiments were conducted to observe the TLV trajectory based on cavitation tracing bubbles in an axial flow pump with a transparent casing. The TLV trajectories predicted by the SST k-ω turbulence model agreed well with the visualization results. The numerical and experimental results show that the starting point of the TLV is near the leading edge at part-load flow rate condition (Q/QBEP=0.85), and it moves towards the trailing edge to approximately 20% blade chord at the design flow rate condition (Q/QBEP=1.0). At large flow rate conditions (Q/QBEP=1.2), the starting point of the TLV shifts to about 40% blade chord, and the relative angle between the TLV trajectory and the blade chord is gradually reduced with the increased flow rate. Detailed statistics of the fluid dynamics of the end-wall shear layer and the TLV at design and off-design conditions were discussed based on the numerical results. The shear layer and jetting flow in the tip gap are highly affected by the pressure difference between the pressure side (PS) and suction side (SS). It was also found that the distributions of static pressure, turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) and vorticity inside the TLV core are associated with the TLV structure which is affected by blade loading and operation conditions of the axial flow pump.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-71
Number of pages11
JournalComputers & Fluids
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51109093 and 51479083 ) and China Scholarship Council . We would like to thank the Process Technology group in the Mechanical Engineering Department for their help during my post-doc work at Eindhoven University of Technology.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Axial flow pump
  • Dynamics
  • High-speed photography
  • Tip leakage vortex
  • Trajectory


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