The use of pumps as turbines (PAT) has gained importance in the recent years as a possible alternative to specifically developed turbine for mini/micro hydropower plants. The use of production pump for hydropower generation reduces the capital cost of the plant but the energy conversion efficiency can be remarkably lower.
The paper analyses the performance of a production centrifugal pump running both in direct and reverse mode. The analysis calculates theoretically the behavior of the PAT under the best efficiency point and extends the investigation to other operating points using both a combined theoretical approach and CFD simulation under dynamic conditions.
The effects of possible modifications to the initial design of the pump are investigated when running in turbine mode and their influence on the standard pump operation is also determined.
Numerical simulation demonstrates that the impeller trimming leads to improvement in the PAT efficiency in some operating conditions. Conversely, the rotational speeds close to the values typical for the electric generator reduce the PAT performance. Finally, the modification of the impeller geometry at the turbine inlet increases the PAT efficiency but lowers the performance of the machine when running in pump mode.