# Centrifugal Pump Fundamentals - Head

The pressure at any point in a liquid can be thought of as being caused by a vertical column of the liquid which, due to its weight, exerts a pressure equal to the pressure at the point in question. The height of this column is called the "static head" and is expressed in terms of feet of liquid.

The static head corresponding to any specific pressure is dependent upon the weight of the liquid according to the following formula:

A centrifugal pump imparts velocity to a liquid. This velocity energy is then transformed largely into pressure energy as the liquid leaves the pump. Therefore, the head developed is approximately equal to the velocity energy at the periphery of the impeller. This relationship is expressed by the following well known formula:

We can predict the approximate head of any centrifugal pump by calculating the peripheral velocity of the impeller and substituting into the above formula. A handy formula for peripheral velocity is:

The above demonstrates why we must always think in terms of feet of liquid rather than pressure when working with centrifugal pumps. A given pump with a given impeller diameter and speed will raise a liquid to a certain height regardless of the weight of the liquid, as shown in Fig. 1.

All of the forms of energy involved in a liquid flow system can be expressed in terms of feet of liquid. The total of these various heads determines the total system head or the work which B pump must perform in the system. The various forms of head are defined as follows.

SUCTION LIFT exists when the source of supply is below the center line of the pump. Thus the STATIC SUCTION LIFT is the vertical distance in feet from the center line of the pump to the free level of the liquid to be pumped.

SUCTION HEAD exists when the source of supply is above the centerline of the pump. Thus the STATIC SUCTION HEAD is the vertical distance in feet from the centerline of the pump to the free level of the liquid to be pumped.

STATIC DISCHARGE HEAD is the vertical distance in feet between the pump centerline and the point of free discharge or the surface of the liquid in the discharge tank.

TOTAL STATIC HEAD is the vertical distance in feet between the free level of the source of supply and the point of free discharge or the free surface of the discharge liquid.

FRICTION HEAD (hf) is the head required to overcome the resistance to flow in the pipe and fittings. It is dependent upon the size and type of pipe flow rate, and nature of the liquid. Frictional tables are included in section 17C.

VELOCITY HEAD (hv) is the energy of a liquid as a result of its motion at some velocity V. It is the equivalent head in feet through which the water would have to fall to acquire the same velocity, or in other words, the head necessary to accelerate the water. Velocity head can be calculated from the following formula:

The velocity head is usually insignificant and can be ignored in most high head systems. However, it can be a large factor and must be considered in low head systems.

PRESSURE HEAD must be considered when a pumping system either begins or terminates in a tank which is under some pressure other than atmospheric. The pressure in such a tank must first be converted to feet of liquid. A vacuum in the suction tank or a positive pressure in the discharge tank must be added to the system head, whereas a positive pressure in the suction tank or vacuum in the discharge tank would be subtracted. The following is a handy formula for converting inches of mercury vacuum into feet of liquid.

The above forms of head, namely static, friction, velocity, and pressure, are combined to make up the total system head at any particular flow rate. Following are definitions of these combined or "Dynamic" head terms as they apply to the pump.

TOTAL DYNAMIC SUCTION LIFT (hs) is the static suction lift minus the velocity head at the pump suction flange plus the total friction head in the suction line. The total dynamic suction lift, as determined on pump tests, is the reading of a gauge on the suction flange, converted to feet of liquid and corrected to the pump centerline*, minus the velocity head at the point of gauge attachment.

TOTAL DYNAMIC SUCTION HEAD (hs) is the static suction head plus the velocity head at the pump suction flange minus the total friction head in the suction line. The total dynamic suction head, as determined on pump test, is the reading of the gauge on the suction flange, converted to feet of liquid and corrected to the pump centerline*, plus the velocity head at the point of gauge attachment.

TOTAL DYNAMIC DISCHARGE HEAD (hd) is the static discharge head plus the velocity head at the pump discharge flange plus the total friction head in the discharge line. The total dynamic discharge head, as determined on pump test, is the reading of a gauge at the discharge flange, converted to feet of liquid and corrected to the pump centerline*, plus the velocity head at the point of gauge attachment.

TOTAL HEAD (H) or TOTAL DYNAMIC HEAD (TDH) is the total dynamic discharge head minus the total dynamic suction head or plus the total dynamic suction lift.