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Pumps are fluid motive devices that increase the mechanical energy of liquid,
increasing its velocity or elevation or all three.


Pumps are classified as followed

In these the energy is continuously added to increase the fluid velocities within
the machine to values in excess of those occurring at the discharge such that
subsequent velocity reduction within or beyond the pump produces a pressure

In the energy is periodically added by application of force to one or more
movable boundaries of any desired number of enclosed, fluid containing
volumes, resulting in a direct increase in pressure.
Centrifugal pumps convert kinetic energy (created by centrifugal force) into
pressure energy. However, the propeller and turbine types also combine this
principle with that of mechanical impulse (generated by mechanical force of the
impeller blade acting directly on the liquid).

A pump which combines the uses of centrifugal force with mechanical impulse to
produce an increase in pressure is the axial-flow pump. In this pump the fluid
travels roughly parallel to the shaft through a series of alternately rotating and
stationary radial blades having airfoil cross sections. The fluid is accelerated in
the axial direction by mechanical impulses from the rotating blades; concurrently,
a positive-pressure gradient in the radial direction is established in each stage by
centrifugal force. The net pressure rise per stage results from both effects.

The centrifugal pump works by centrifugal forces. Centrifugal force is the force in
a rotating body which makes particles move away from the center of rotation.
This is illustrated in Figure (14) which shows a stone being whirled in a circle at
the end of a piece of string. Because of the circular motion, there is a centrifugal
force acting on the stone, tending to push it outwards, and at any moment the
stones direction is at a tangent to the circle (i.e. the direction of movement is
such that if the stone were free then it would not pass through the circle but just
brush against its edge). If the string was suddenly broken then the stone would,
fly off in this tangential direction to the circle.


In the centrifugal pump an impeller containing curved vanes (or a similar

construction) receives liquid feed through a central hole or eye. The particles of
fluid move outward from the eye of the impeller towards the outer rim of impeller
(See figure.15).
The rotating vanes of the impeller cause liquid to move in a circular path, the
rotation generating centrifugal force. The centrifugal force propels particles of
liquid outward through the rotating vanes as shown.

Figure (15) impeller

In any circle which is rotating, a point at the circumference travels a greater
distance in a given time than a point nearer the center does in the same period of
time. The distance traveled around a circular path in a given length of time is
called the tangential velocity. This means that tangential velocity is greater at the
rim of the impeller, than it is at the eye of the impeller. It also means that the
greater the diameter of the impeller, the higher the tangential velocity for the
same r.p.m of the impeller.
The suction of liquid outwards from the eye of the impeller creates a low pressure
area at that position and this in turn causes fresh liquid to flow from the pump
inlet into the impeller eye.
The resultant direction in which the liquid leaves the impeller vane is shown on
the right-hand side of figure (16) the liquid experiences two velocities, one in the
tangential direction of vane tip, and another in a direction following the vane
curvature. These two directions complete and the liquid take the resultant
direction shown.
Figure –16
When the liquid leaves the rim of the impeller it is traveling at a high velocity. The
shape of the casing into which the liquid flows is designed in such a manner that
the high velocity liquid slows down and eventually leaves the pump outlet at a
lower velocity than that at which it left the rim of the impeller. This means that the
liquid has given up some of its kinetic energy, and what in fact happens is that
the kinetic energy given up is converted into static pressure energy (energy is
neither created nor destroyed, but is converted.
The suction at the eye of the impeller and the conversion of kinetic energy to
static pressure energy explain why a vacuum may exist at the inlet to a
centrifugal pump, and, why the static pressure at the outlet of a centrifugal pump
is much greater than the static pressure at any point along the inlet line.

Some of the more common kinds of impellers are shown in figure (17). The
impeller vanes are curved to ensure a smooth flow of liquid. Both turbulence and
internal circulation are reduced as the number of vanes is increased. This
circulation decreases the developed head. To a large extent, the characteristics
of a centrifugal pump depend on the angle of the tip of the blades.
Figure – 17
Closed impellers generate head between the two walls of the rotating impeller.
However, semi open impellers generate head between the one wall of the
rotating impeller and one stationary wall of the casing. Open impellers generate
head between two stationary walls of the casing.
Closed impellers have the following advantages: their maintenance is low, their
wearing surfaces are relatively uncritical, and their original efficiencies are
maintained over most of their lives.

Open and semi open impellers require close clearances between the rotating
vanes and the corresponding wall of the casing. Wear results in increased
clearances, greater leakage losses and lower efficiencies. Open impellers are
used for pumping liquids containing suspended solids.
Many pumps, particularly those of large capacity, have double-suction impellers.
This means that they have an inlet on either side. These impellers impart no
appreciable thrust to the shaft and are commonly used in pumps which have a
horizontally split case.

Other impellers are single suction, having only one inlet. These are used in
vertically split pumps. A single suction impeller is always subjected to axial thrust.

In double suction pump, liquid is fed from identical suction chambers located at
each side of the impeller. This design substantially eliminates hydraulic
imbalance which is always present with a single suction impeller. Thus double
suction pumps can be used for higher operating pressures than single suction

Double suction pumps also allow lower liquid velocities at the eye of the impeller.
This results in relatively low NPSH requirements.

In a centrifugal pump there are two distinct pressure zones, low pressure at the
center of the impeller and high pressure at it circumference. To prevent high
pressure liquid leaking into the low-pressure zone the minimum clearance
possible has to exist between the rotating impeller and the stationary casing.
With close clearances a certain amount of wear will take place and as the gap
between the impeller and the casing increases so will the amount of liquid being
re-circulated to the suction. The efficiency of the pumps will be reduced and in
order to regain it, the gap has to be reduced again.

To avoid the replacement of impeller, casing, or both it is normal practice to install

separate wear rings on the impeller and in the casing at the points of contact
(see fig. 19). When wear takes place, which seriously affects the pump’s
efficiency, the rings can be replaced that are relatively cheap.
Figure – 19 Wear Ring Mounting

The shaft which is fixed to the impeller, rides on the bearings. It is connected to
the motor with a coupling. As you know that centrifugal pumps operate at high
speeds of rotation and can involve equipment of some considerable weight. The
effect of the above is the development of radial loading due to the weight of the
equipment. With thrust loading being developed due to operation and type of
pump. To reduce the frictional, wearing & tearing tendencies of rotating
equipment, bearings, have been developed to support radial loads and work
against thrust (axial) loads as they develop.


The volute pump is by far the most common type of centrifugal pumps. The liquid
leaves the impeller into a progressively widening spiral casing called the volute
as shown in fig. (20). This design facilitates the conversion of the liquid velocity to
pressure as it flows from the impeller to the discharge line.

Figure – 20 Volute type Pumps

In diffuser pumps, after the liquid has left the impeller, it is passed through a ring
of fixed diffuser vanes.
This provides a more controlled flow and allows a more efficient conversion of
velocity head into pressure head. The change from high velocity to pressure
takes place gradually. This eliminates shock losses. Thus diffuser pumps have
high efficiencies. Some of the larger pumps have efficiencies over 90 percent.
See figure (21).

Figure –.21: Section of Diffuser Pump

Diffuser type centrifugal pumps are commonly used for high head application. As
with volute pumps, they are available in more than one stage.


To obtain a high discharge pressure, a multiple impeller pump is used with two or
more impellers mounted on one shaft. The impellers are linked in series so that
the liquid which leaves the first impeller is guided into the inlet of the next
impeller and so on to the last impeller from which the liquid leaves through the
discharge line. See figure (22) below;
It is expressed in terms of volumetric flow rate.

Height of fluid column equivalent to the total pressure differential (under adiabatic
conditions) measured immediately before and after the device.


Vertical distance from the liquid supply level to the pump centre line. This is valid
only when the pump is above the liquid level


Vertical distance from the pump center line to the liquid supply level

Pressure head required to overcome the resistance to flow in pipes


A pump can only effectively transport liquid if there is adequate pressure on the
suction side to force the fluid into the inlet nozzle of the pump casing. Any pump,
which is, for instance, lifting water from an open pit below it has the liquid pushed
into the impeller or inlet valves by the atmosphere pressure.
We know that a liquid may exert a vapor pressure above its free surface in a
For example, the vapor pressure of water at 71 oC is 4.7 psia.
If the pressure at the suction to a pump pumping water at 71 oC falls below 4.7
psia, then the water will vaporize (i.e. vapor will be formed) and the pump will fill
with vapor and not with liquid. The pump is “vapor locked”.
To prevent this happening, the absolute pressure at the pump suction must be
greater than the vapor pressure of the water at the temperature at which it is
being pumped. This means that the absolute pressure at the suction end of the
pump in the case mentioned above should not be allowed to fall as low as 4.7
The net positive suction head is the pressure above liquid vapor pressure at
pump suction, converted to a head of liquid. For example, let’s suppose that the
absolute pressure at the suction of pump transferring water at 71 oC is 8.7 psia.
Now the vapor pressure of water at that temperature is found to be 4.7 psia.
Therefore, the pressure at the pump suction is 8.7 – 4.7 which equals 4.0 psia
above the vapor pressure of the water. This pressure difference can be converted
to a head of water of approximately 9 feet. The net positive suction head is
therefore 9 feet.

The net positive suction head is usually expressed as N.P.S.H.

It is a function of the pump design and is the absolute pressure needed to
overcome frictional and other losses occurring in the pump suction nozzle and
inlet pumping elements. This will give the minimum liquid head required to get
liquid into the pump without vapor being formed. The required value of N.P.S.H.
increases with pump capacity, impeller speed and discharge pressure.

It is a term expressing the absolute pressure value available at the pump suction
valve after accounting for, the pressure on the liquid surface, the vapor pressure
exerted by the liquid at that temperature, system suction frictional losses, the
static lift involved and the pressure loss due to the change in the liquids velocity

If the N.P.S.H. available is less than the N.P.S.H. required then the pump will not
operate correctly. If this does occur then the phenomena is known as cavitation.
To avoid this pump manufacturers always build a safety factor into the design of
the system.

When the NPSH is below the required minimum as specified by the
manufacturer, then vapor bubbles start forming in the pump suction (whether
centrifugal, rotating or reciprocating). These are then forced into the higher-
pressure regions towards the discharge. Here the bubbles collapse violently
creating noise, vibration and wear. This phenomenon is called cavitation. It can
also be caused by sucking air in through worn pump shaft seals. Pitting of pump
parts is a common result of cavitations. Every one who works in a refinery needs
to have a clear idea of its causes and consequences.
- The greater the liquid slip in a pump the smaller is the effect of
- Cavitation is more serious with viscous liquids than thin ones.
- High-speed pumps are more prone to cavitation.
- Cavitation reduces the head and capacity performance of a pump, and
may effectively prevent it from pumping at all.


In this class of pumps definite volume of liquid is trapped in a chamber, which is
alternately filled from the inlet and emptied at a higher pressure through the
discharge. There are two sub classes of these
A) Reciprocating Pumps:
1. The plunger pump
2. The piston pump
3. The diaphragm pump
B) Rotary Pumps:
1. The gear pump
2. The screw pump

In it the chamber is stationary cylinder that contains a piston or plunger. Piston
pumps, plunger pumps, and diaphragm pumps are examples of reciprocating


In a piston pump liquid is drawn through an inlet check valve into the cylinder by
the withdrawal of a piston and then forced out through a discharge check valve
on the return stroke. Most piston pumps are double acting with liquid admitted
alternately on each side of the piston so that one part of the cylinder is being
filled while the other is being emptied. Often two or more cylinders are used in
parallel with common suction and discharge headers, and the configuration of the
pistons is adjusted to minimize fluctuations in the discharge rate. The piston may
be motor driven through reducing gears or a steam cylinder may be used to drive
the piston rod directly. The maximum discharge pressure for commercial piston
pumps is 50atm

Figure (25) is a diagram to show the pump section of a single-acting piston

pump. The working of this pump is, in principle, similar to that of a single-acting
plunger pump. The piston is sealed off by using one or more piston springs or
piston rings that fit in circular grooves in the piston. The springs move against the
cylinder wall when a slight pressure is applied and thus seal off the discharge
area. The pistons can be driven in a similar way to the plunger pump. The piston
pump is made to handle larger volumes than the plunger pump.

Figure (25), Single-acting piston pump

Figure (26) is a diagram showing double-acting piston pump. Every stroke of the
pump supplies fluid to the system as it does in the double-acting plunger pump.
The pump now has two piston valves and two discharge valves. Higher demands
are made on the sealing around the piston because of the higher pressure
difference to the right and left of the piston. The piston rod in the cylinder lid must
also be sealed to prevent liquid leaking outside on the piston rod side during
discharge stroke of the piston. Since the liquid is divided over two strokes, the
liquid flow is fairly constant. The output of a double-acting piston pump is almost
twice as large as output of a single-acting piston pump.
Figure (26), Double-Acting Piston Pump

For higher pressures pluger pumps are used. They contain a heavy walled
cylinder of small diameter with a closed fitting reciprocating plunger, which is
merely an extension of the piston rod. At the limit of its stroke, the plunger fills
nearly all the space in the cylinder. Plunger pumps are single acting and are
usually motor driven. They can discharge against a pressure of 1500atm or more

Figure (23) shows a diagram of a single-acting plunger pump. The pump casing
has a suction and discharge valves. When the plunger moves to the right, the
suction stroke takes place. The volume of the liquid in the casing will increase;
the pressure in the cylinder will decrease causing the suction valve to open. The
liquid will be drawn from the suction line to the pump cylinder.
Figure –23

The plunger will then move to the left making a discharge stroke. The volume of
the liquid in the cylinder will decrease, causing the pressure to increase and the
discharge valve to open, delivering the liquid into the discharge line. Then
another suction stroke will take place and the process continues.

Figure (24) shows a double-acting plunger pump, in which the suction stroke on
one side occurs at the same time as the discharge stroke on the other side.

A double-acting plunger pump delivers almost twice as much as a single- acting

pump of the same plunger diameter and stroke length.
Figure – 24, Double Acting Plunger Pump

In a diaphragm pump, the reciprocating member is a flexible diaphragm of metal,
plastic, or rubber. This eliminates the need for packing or seals exposed to the
liquid being pumped, a great advantage when handling toxic or corrosive liquids.
These handle small to moderate amounts of liquid upto 100gal/min, and can
develop pressures in excess of 100 atm.
Figure (27) shows the principle of a single-acting diaphragm pump. The
displacement device here is not a plunger or a piston but a diaphragm. A
diaphragm is a disc made of elastic material, which is clamped around the
circumference and which is connected in the middle to a rod which can move the
diaphragm backwards and forwards. The volume increases and decreases
similar to those of the plunger and piston pumps. The purpose of a diaphragm
pump is to transport chemical liquids which could corrode metal.
Figure (27), Diaphragm pump

It is also used as a feeder pump when measured quantities are needed. For this
reason the diaphragm is made of a material that is not only elastic, but resistant
to the action of chemical liquids. The discharge and suction valves are frequently
ball valves, possible made of synthetic material, which give a reasonable good
sealing at a relatively low pressure

Because of the constancy of volume flow, plunger and diaphragm pumps are
widely used as “metering pumps” injecting liquid into a process system at
controlled but adjustable volumetric rates

The displacement bodies in this type of pump are meshed gears or screws,
rotating discs with internal teeth and occasionally other forms of rotating bodies.
In the pump casing more displacement bodies are found than in the plunger
pump. Because of this, there is a number of small “suction and discharge
strokes” in one rotation. This makes the output of these pumps more constant
and the use of an air chamber superfluous.
These pumps have been used with success where a constant output under a
relatively low pressure is needed, for example the supply lubricating oil to
bearings. They discharge pressures upto 200atm or more.
The construction of these pumps is relatively simple and other than the rotors
themselves, they contain very few moving parts. A disadvantage is that its parts
must be machined very accurately to keep leakage losses small.


Essentially this pump consists of a casing A and in it two accurately meshed
gears I & II. The casing is closed off by the covers B and C in such a way that the
gears are allowed very little play. Gear I is driven by the gear shaft D. Gear II can
turn freely in bearing and is driven by gear I. To prevent leakage along the drive
shaft D, cover C is provided with a seal E. At the front and back of the casing,
openings are provided to supply and remove the liquid, i.e. the suction and
discharge ports. Both gears have the same diameter and the same number of



The screw pump consists of one or more screws which fit closely in the casing
and can rotate (see figure.29). There are some types of pumps, in which one
(driven) screw turns the other, i.e. like the gear pump. In most screw pumps,
however both screws are turned by external gears because the pitch angle of the
screws is not large enough to drive each other.

Figure 29

In figure 29 the grooves of the screw are easily recognizable. During the rotation
of the screw, the liquid in the grooves will be transported from left to right at the
direction of rotation as shown above. In this case the suction line must be
attached on the left and the discharge line on the right.

Choice of a pump depends upon many factors


Constant speed reciprocating pumps are suitable for applications where the
required capacity is expected to be constant over a wide range of system head
variations. However the output may be pulsating and it must be considered
Centrifugal pumps are often used in variable, variable capacity applications
• Rotary and reciprocating pumps are self priming but centrifugal unless
specifically designed as such are not
• Sometimes the system layout can influence the choice of a pump. In
general, centrifugal will require less space than reciprocating and vertical
less space than horizontal. However more headroom may be required for
handling the vertical pump’s maintenance and installation.
• Fluid characteristics such as viscosity, density, volatility chemical stability
and solid content are also important factors consideration.
• Rotary pumps are suitable for use with viscous fluids such as oil or grease
whereas centrifugal pumps can be used for clean, clear fluids and fluids
with high solid content