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Low Cost Variable Speed Pump Experimental Setup

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Improving ME instructional laboratories

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.904.1 - 11.904.7



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Paper Authors


S. Perwez Kalim Wilkes University

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Dr. Kalim has teaching interests in the curriculum evaluation, assessment and development using the technology in the classroom. His technical research interests are Finite Element Analysis, Thermal and Fluid Dynamics and Energy Systems.,

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Low Cost Variable Speed Pump Experimental Setup

Abstract Educating students to practice engineering is the main goal of engineering education, which demands a curriculum that indulges students in thought provoking hands-on experiences. Creation of such environments invariably involves consumption of considerable financial resources, which are often limited and meager. In these circumstances, it is very difficult and burdensome to replace the outdated laboratory equipment with the expensive experimental setups. Even if these canned experimental systems are installed, they seldom offer operational and design variations. And by and large, these systems permit only limited and a cookbook approach to experiments. They are not only dreary but the implementation costs of these canned systems are ever more increasing. This is a dilemma, which are difficult to resolve. To assist in alleviating these difficulties, this study reports the design and fabrication of a low cost pump setup for the fluid mechanics laboratory. This effort engages design, build, and test concepts to create an economical and effective experimental setup. The system is constructed using off-the- rack and in-house components readily available in most laboratories. The system is flexible, which can be operated at a wide range of variable conditions such as speed, power, flow rate, and head. So that at a time different student groups are assigned different operating conditions for which associated manufacturer’s characteristics curves can be obtained and specific design limitations can be identified. The students are able to verify the affinity laws and show how well they hold true. The system is also modular so that it can be altered to fit other design needs. This system does not only help instructors avoid the cookbook approach, but also provides students valuable experiences in the design of experiments, encourages team work, and offers learning in a problem-based environment. Designing and employing this setup helps to satisfy an important and not easily achievable outcome requirement namely design of experiments -the Accreditation Board of Engineering Technology (ABET) Outcome B.

Introduction The knowledge of the design and selection of pumps are critically important for mechanical, civil, and environmental engineers. Conventionally, many engineering lab experiences revolve around the demonstration of physical phenomena, which often employ expensive canned experimental setup. Unfortunately they normally permit only limited and cookbook approach to experiments and rarely offer any design experiences with the exception of some sophisticated equipment. For many engineering programs acquiring such expensive and precision equipment are often unattainable. The experimental pump setup described here has been designed and installed entirely by students under faculty guidance and supervision using almost no capital resources. The setup has been created using standard, off-the-shelf components, which are readily available. The experimental setup is easily adaptable to the existing curriculum, which can help satisfy an important objective, yet not easily achievable, “the design of experiments” component of ABET outcome B1. In addition it will help engineering students learn the pump concepts, measure various pump performance parameters over a wide range of conditions, and develop pump characteristic curves2. It will facilitate learning pump affinity laws3,4 and help in demonstrating how well these laws hold true. This experience can provide small engineering programs an opportunity to expose their students to designing and building a low cost experimental pump setup and on the same time achieve the “experiment design” objectives.

Kalim, S. P. (2006, June), Low Cost Variable Speed Pump Experimental Setup Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--159

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