Test Data AC7-03

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Flow in a Ventricular Assist Device - Pump Performance & Blood Damage Prediction

Application Challenge AC7-03   © copyright ERCOFTAC 2022

Test Data

Overview of Tests

An experimental validation was performed for two operating points, the partial load () and the nominal load () at a rotational speed of , which are typical operating points of ventricular assist devices [26]. The investigated VAD model was explained in the Description. It was originally created exclusively for numerical investigations. In order to enable an adequate validation of the simulated VAD flow, the following requirements were placed on the experimental model during the conceptual design:

  • Due to the small dimensions and narrow gaps, the model to be manufactured must have tolerances in the range of .
  • In the numerical model, the VAD has no axial gaps between rotating and stationary components. The experimental model must have axial gaps as small as possible between these components.
  • In the numerical model, a hydraulically smooth flow is assumed in the immediate vicinity of the wall. Also in the experimental model, a hydraulically smooth flow should be present at the walls.
  • No mechanical drive for the impeller is considered in the numerical model. Since the experimental model requires a drive, it must be placed such that it has little interference with the flow as possible.
  • It should be possible to measure various flow variables with the model to be produced. In the first measurement campaign, the goal is to determine the performance data such as the pressure head. However, the model is intended to be used to measure velocities and turbulence quantities in the future.

VAD model

To meet the above points, it was decided to make the experimental model from polymethylmetacrylate (PMMA or acrylic glass). Since acrylic glass is a transparent plastic, accessibility for optical measurement techniques is ensured. Furthermore, acrylic glass can be machined well, so that all wetted components could be manufactured from solid material by milling. The fabricated components can be seen in the assembled acrylic model in Figure 2.1. The acrylic model consists of two acrylic blocks that are bolted together and sealed by an O-ring at the interface. Inside the two acrylic blocks, the VAD outside diameters and the diameters of the inlet and outlet pipes are milled. The hydraulic components of the VAD (inlet guide vane, impeller, outlet guide vane) were also made of acrylic glass. Dimensional tolerances of were achieved for all components. Furthermore, all components were hand-polished to achieve hydraulically smooth flow behaviour.

Fig.2.1 Fabricated acrylic model for the experimental investigations. The tubes from the eight pressure measuring holes are closed with red plugs.

For manufacturing reasons, changes were made to the acrylic model compared to the numerical model. For example, chamfers had to be added at the transitions between the hubs and blades of the impeller and guide vanes with radii of . Furthermore, axial gaps between the rotating and stationary flow regions are present. However, the gap size could be reduced to a minimum of . The impeller is driven by an electric motor. Power is transmitted from the motor to the impeller via a shaft that passes through the rear acrylic block and the outlet guide vane into the impeller hub. Due to the shaft drive, a bend with 30° bend angle had to be integrated into the outlet of the rear acrylic block. Care was taken in the design of this component, which is made of polyoxymethylene, to ensure that the flow deflection would not affect the pressure measurements. The guide vanes are fixed in the acrylic blocks by screws. The guide vanes were arranged to correspond exactly to the numerical model. The impeller is axially held by a polytetrafluoroethylene thrust bearing at the inlet guide vane and on the opposite side by a spacer in the hub of the outlet guide vane. The radial bearing of the impeller is provided by the shaft, which itself is supported by three ball bearings. Holes for pressure measurement were integrated in the acrylic model to determine the pressure head. Their position and geometry were selected according to literature data. Thus, the holes are each 1.5 (inlet) or 2 (outlet) pipe diameters away from the VAD to allow a sufficient distance of the measurement position from the hydraulic components. Furthermore, four holes offset by 90° were arranged in the measurement area according to DIN EN ISO 9906 standard [11]. These guarantee the determination of a circumferentially averaged wall pressure, which is used to calculate the pressure head. Diameters of and hole lengths of were selected for the measurement holes.

Test rig

The fabricated acrylic model was integrated into a pump test rig shown in Figure 2.2. The test rig allows the measurement of the head characteristic curve and the hydraulic efficiency. The test rig consists of a tank (1) with a baffle. The baffle calms the fluid and prevents air bubbles from being entrained into the circulation line. A temperature sensor (2) is integrated in the tank. An inlet pipe (3) made of polyvinyl chloride leads from the tank to the acrylic model (4).

Fig.2.2 Test rig as CAD model. The numerised components are explained in the text.

A ring line (5) made of silicone is arranged around each of the pressure measurement holes in the acrylic model. The ring line leads to a manifold which is connected to the pressure sensors. This allows the static pressure around the circumference of the pipe to be measured. The pressure sensors (6) are arranged at the height of the axis of rotation of the VAD. Behind the acrylic model, a silicone hose (7) leads to the upper circulation line. Downstream of the hose is the volume flow sensor (8) and an angle seat valve (9), which is used as a throttling element. All hoses, lines and internals in the test rig cause pressure losses. It was estimated during the design phase that the operating points investigated on the test rig can be set without an auxiliary pump. Furthermore, care was taken to ensure that the wetted components are compatible with water-glycerine, which was used as blood-analogous fluid. Since the test rig components are not connected to each other in a self-supporting manner, it was necessary to construct a supporting structure from aluminum profiles (10).

NAME GNDPs PDPs (problem definition parameters) MPs (measured parameters)
Rotation speed (rpm) flow rate (l/min) DOAPs
EXP 1 (nominal load) 7,900 4.5 Pressure head
EXP 2 (partial load) 7,900 2.5 Pressure head

Table 2.1 Summary of the measured pump characteristics.

Pressure head
EXP 1 & EXP 2 pressure_heads.dat

Table 2.2 Data files for the characteristic curves for the pressure head.

Description of Experiment

After the drive was gradually ramped up to the nominal speed , the volume flow for the respective operating point is set using the angle seat valve. After a statistically steady state was reached, the recording of the measurement signals began over a period of 60 s. The measurement was carried out 10 times for all operating points repeated in order to reduce random measurement errors as much as possible.

Fluid, Measured Quantities and Measurement Errors

Fluid in the Experiment

The fluid in the test bench is a mixture of water and glycerine. The mixture has the same dynamic viscosity as the fluid defined in the simulation.

Measured Quantity Measured range Measuring device Systematic error
viscosity Ubbelohde viscosimeter
density density areaometer
temperature thermometer

Table 2.3 Measurement techniques for the fluid measurements.

The density and viscosity of the fluid were measured prior to filling the test rig and during the mixing. Table 2.3 summarizes the measurement techniques used for this. After filling the test rig and after the measurements, the material data were repeatedly measured and checked for immutability.

Measurement of the Pump Characteristics

To determine the pressure head at the operating points, the volume flow, the speed of the drive shaft, the temperature and the static pressure upstream (SS) and downstream (PS) of the VAD must be measured. From the measured pressures, the head in [mmHg] is calculated by dividing the pressure difference by 133.332 Pa, which corresponds to a pressure which corresponds to a mercury column of 1 mm height. According to DIN EN ISO 9906 standard, the measuring technique was selected in such a way that measurements according to class 1 (highest accuracy) are possible. The measuring techniques are listed in Table 2.4. They provide either an analog signal in the form of a current/voltage or a digital signal in the form of a pulse signal.

Measured Quantity Measured range Measuring signal Systematic error
flow rate pulse (digital)
rotational speed pulse (digital)
termperature current
relative pressure SS - current of the span
relative pressure PS current of the end value
torque voltage of the span

Table 2.4 Measurement techniques for the determination of the pump characteristics.

Contributed by: B. Torner — University of Rostock, Germany

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