Making sure your pumps are performing their best in their given environment can be vital. However, sometimes less obvious forces such as atmospheric pressure can come into play.  Therefore, in this issue’s Pump School, we examine the impact of altitude on Net Positive Suction Head in centrifugal pumps.

Question:  Do centrifugal pumps require more Net Positive Suction Head (NPSH) margin at higher elevations than at sea level?

NO. The recommended NPSH margin for a centrifugal pump does not change at higher elevations.  The NPSH required (NPSHr) by the pump also does not change with altitude.

Altitude does, however, affect NPSH available (NPSHa).

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 7.01.39 PM


Pa = atmospheric pressure in kpaA

Pv = vapour pressure of liquid in kpaA

Hs = static height from water level to pump centreline (on suction side) in metres

Hf = friction loss is suction pipework in metres

Therefore, as atmospheric pressure is decreased at higher altitudes, the NPSHa reduces.

This will not create any pump problems provided the NPSHa at altitude is greater than the NPSHr by the pump. A typical minimum margin is 0.5 metres.

* Article courtesy of Kelair Pumps Australia 

“When Pump Knowledge Matters”

Phone: 1300 789 466


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