For a machine designed for a simple purpose — to move liquids from one location to another — pumps come in a surprisingly wide assortment of types, each designed with specific applications in mind. Choosing the right types of pump requires an understanding of the classifications of pumps: the right pump for one situation is entirely wrong for other pump applications.
With that in mind, we’ve assembled a brief overview of different types of pumps and their applications. Whether you need a dynamic or positive displacement pump, here are the most common pumps used in industrial situations.
Dynamic pump definition
Sometimes known as rotodynamic or centrifugal pumps, dynamic pumps use curved impellers to create suction, drawing fluid through inlets and ejecting them through the pump outlet. Centrifugal pumps are among the most common types of pumps and tend to be hardy machines that function effectively under the right circumstances. Installation and maintenance of centrifugal pumps require some training but can be mastered quickly. Most centrifugal pumps are powered by electric or combustion engines, and fall into four broad categories:
- Vertical centrifugal pumps, or cantilever pumps, use a shaft and bearing system where the bearings are located outside of the pump pit. Vertical centrifugal pump applications include waste treatment, sump draining, tank transfers, agitation, and wet processes.
- Horizontal centrifugal pumps have, as the name implies, horizontal shafts. They are often used for indoor applications as they have lower headroom than vertical centrifugal pumps and can fit into smaller spaces. Horizontal centrifugal pumps do, however, have lower working temperatures and pressures than their virtual counterparts.
- Submersible pumps are types of pumps with hermetically sealed motors and designed to be submerged in liquid. Common submersible pump applications include pumping stormwater, sewage, well water, bore water, chemicals, and waste products.
- Fire pumps, also known as fire hydrant systems, hydrant boosters, or fire water pumps, are high-force pumps used to provide pressurized water for fire fighting and fire sprinkler systems. Usually powered by electricity, diesel, or steam, they are sometimes used for irrigation and water transfer.
Positive displacement pump definition
This classification of pumps moves fluids by enclosing repeated volumes of liquid in the internal cavity and moving through their systems in cyclical, measurable amounts. Diaphragm pumps, gear pumps, peristaltic pumps, lobe, and piston pumps are all positive displacement pumps.
- Diaphragm pumps, or membrane pumps, use the reciprocating action of a diaphragm and valves on each side of the diaphragm to move fluids. Self-priming, with low flow rates and high-pressure capability, these types of pumps are typically driven by compressed air and often used for metering and dispensing water, paint, oils, and corrosive liquids. Typical diaphragm pump applications include water treatment, mining, food manufacturing, and chemical transference.
- Gear pumps use meshed gears to displace and pump fluid at high forces, making them suitable for pumping thick fluids. Pump gears are commonly used in the petrochemical, chemical, and food industries.
- Peristaltic pumps use rotors with rollers to move liquid through a flexible tube in a circular pump casing. Common peristaltic pump applications include medical uses such as dialysis machines, engineering, food, and chemical manufacturing.
- Lobe pumps are similar to gear pumps, only this type of pump has lobes that almost meet, rather than meshing like the gears in a gear pump. Easy to clean and sanitize, lobe pumps have applications in pharmaceutical, biotechnical, food, beverage, and chemical processes.
- Piston pumps use a high-pressure seal and pistons to compress and move liquids and gases. Capable of operating at high pressure with strong flow rates, piston pump applications include high-pressure cleaning, hydraulics, descaling, metering, and process technology applications.
No matter what types of pumps your workplace uses, it’s important to train your employees in the proper use and operation of different pump systems. Doing so prevents damage to both the pump system and surrounding areas, increases pump efficiency, and lowers the risk of injury — all in all, a high return on investment for a short training seminar.