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Velocity Head What is velocity head?

Head is a unit of pressure expressed as a column of liquid, in Feet, instead of the usual unit of pounds per square inch gauge (PSIG). A pressure in PSIG is simply converted to its equivalent column of liquid. That column of liquid develops the same pressure in PSIG at the bottom of that liquid column. The length of that column, in Feet, is referred to as the head. Velocity head is the head developed by a liquid due to its velocity. If the liquid velocity is reduced, part of the internal energy of the liquid is released and may be harnessed as additional head. If the liquid velocity is increased the velocity head is reduced as part of the internal energy of the liquid is used to accelerate the liquid. The formula for calculating velocity head is: Hv = V^2 / 2g = velocity head, in Feet

where Hv V g

= liquid velocity, in Feet per second = acceleration due to gravity, in Feet/sec^2

One practical application of this formula is in estimating the head that an impeller will develop. Example: How much head will a 15" diameter impeller develops in a pump operating at 1780 RPM? Solution: The peripheral velocity of a 15" diameter impeller is: V = [D x RPM] /229 where v -s the peripheral velocity The formula for calculating the increase in liquid velocity is: V = [Q x 0.321] / [A2 - A1] velocity head in Feet

where Hv = Q A = =

flow rate in gallons per minute the difference in the flow area between the suction nozzle an discharge nozzle, in square inches. is a unit conversion factor


Example: What is the velocity head of a 4x6x11 single stage, horizontal, end suction pump with a flow rate of 800 GPM? Solution: In the universal pump designation consisting of three groups of figures, the first figure refers to the discharge nozzle size, the second figure refers to the suction nozzle size, and the third figure refers to the nominal impeller diameter size. First, calculate the change in liquid velocity: V V = [800 x 0.321] / [A6 - A4] = [800 x0.321] / [28.274 - 12.566] = 4 Feet

Next, calculate the velocity head: H H = V^2 / 2g

= [4]^2 / [2x32.2] = 0.248 feet

(More on velocity head developed by the peripheral velocity of an impeller is discussed in a separate article on this web site.) Velocity head - the head needed to increase the velocity of the liquid at the pump discharge nozzle over the velocity of the liquid at the suction nozzle. Velocity head is present only is the discharge nozzle is smaller than the suction nozzle. If the nozzles are of the same size then the velocity head is zero. The velocity head is calculated from the equation: Related topics: Pump basics Types of pumps Horizontal vs. Vertical pump Axial split vs. Radial split case pump Parallel-series operation Self-priming pump

Q - What is velocity head? A - Velocity head is that portion of a pump's developed head caused by the ncrease in the liquid discharge velocity due to the difference in the pump's suction and discharge nozzle sizes. Q - When do you add, or subtract, velocity head in calculating the total head of a pump? A - The velocity head is added in the calculation only when the inside diameter (ID) of the discharge nozzle is smaller than the ID of the suction nozzle. (The velocity head is zero when the ID of nozzles are of the same.) Since the suction nozzle is never smaller than the discharge nozzle, then the velocity head is never subtracted in calculating the total head of a pump. The velocity head (Hv), in FT, is calculated from: Hv = [V^2] / [ 2g] where g = 32.2 (gravitational acceleration), and V = [Q x 0.321] / [A] where Q is the capacity in GPM, and A is the difference in flow area, in square inches, between the suction and discharge nozzles.