We have developed a tiny rotary centrifugal blood pump for the purpose of supporting circulation of children and infants. The pump is designed to provide a flow of 0.1-4.0 L/min against a head pressure of 50-120 mm Hg. The diameter of the impeller is 30 mm with six straight vanes. The impeller is supported by a hydrodynamic bearing at its center and rotated with a radial coupled magnetic driver. The bearing that supports rotation of the impeller of the tiny centrifugal blood pump is very critical to achieve durability, and clot-free and antihemolytic performance. In this study, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis was performed to quantify the secondary flow through the hydrodynamic bearing at the center of the impeller and investigated the effects of bearing clearance on shear stress to optimize hemolytic performance of the pump. Two types of bearing clearance (0.1 and 0.2 mm) were studied. The wall shear stress of the 0.1-mm bearing clearance was lower than that of 0.2-mm bearing clearance at 2 L/min and 3000 rpm. This was because the axial component of the shear rate significantly decreased due to the narrower clearance even though the circumferential component of the shear rate increased. Hemolysis tests showed that the normalized index of hemolysis was reduced to 0.0076 g/100 L when the bearing clearance was reduced to 0.1 mm. It was found that the CFD prediction supported the experimental trend. The CFD is a useful tool for optimization of the hydrodynamic bearing design of the centrifugal rotary blood pump to optimize the performance of the pump in terms of mechanical effect on blood cell elements, durability of the bearing, and antithrombogenic performance.
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