Home Business Insights & Advice Five industrial applications of centrifugal pumps

Five industrial applications of centrifugal pumps

by John Saunders
24th Mar 22 11:05 am

Centrifugal pumps are beneficial in many industries because of their effective capabilities, versatile applications, and operational efficiency. They can be used to suction vast quantities of liquids and fluids, including water and transport the same huge quantities of fluids and water to where they’re needed.

This process creates different types of mechanical energy, kinetic energy, and potential energy, all of which have diverse industrial applications in water distribution, wastewater treatment, manufacturing, mining, food and beverage processing, oil refinery and petrochemicals processing.

If you’re interested to learn more about specific types and models of industrial pumps, you might want to check out sites of Carver Pump and other industrial pump makers.

With that being said, here are some of the many possible industrial applications of centrifugal pumps.

1. Water supply distribution

One of the most common industrial applications of centrifugal pumps is  water supply delivery and distribution. Water management will still be a foundational aspect of future cities amid the rising popularity of digital transformation and the internet of things (IoT). Centrifugal pumps are suitable for pumping fluids or media with low viscosity. By design, centrifugal pumps are made of robust equipment since they’re built to run at very high speeds. Generally, they can operate at a high level of efficiency.

Centrifugal pumps can pump large volumes of fluids and move them at a constant flow. Centrifugal pumps, in general, are quite cost-effective. They typically have simple designs with only a few moving components. Their design enables a consistent operational performance. They don’t necessitate a lot of maintenance work.

The pumping mechanism of a centrifugal pump uses a rotating impeller to draw water to the pump’s suction inlet. The centrifugal force created by the rotation of the impeller increases the water pressure. The pressurised water is then moved through an output pump to be discharged through an outlet valve.

The disadvantage of using centrifugal pumps is that they need to be primed before being used. This means you need to supply the input fluid before operating the pump. Centrifugal pumps can’t be utilised when they’re dry. This is why sometimes you can only hear air from a water pipe that hasn’t been used for a while. The water pressure isn’t enough to draw out the water, and the centrifugal pump won’t work yet without input fluid.

Centrifugal pumps are highly suitable for delivering water supply to residential areas. They work best when they’re submerged underwater or when they’re positioned below the level of the source of input fluids.

2. Wastewater treatment

Bernd Settnik / DPA Picture Alliance / Avalon

Although centrifugal pumps are more suitable for moving low viscosity fluids, they are still highly suited for industrial applications in wastewater treatment. In general, centrifugal pumps are designed to move fluids with love viscosity levels, such as water, oil, or liquid chemicals. They work best with fluids and liquids with low amounts of solid or semi-solid particles.

But wastewater isn’t usually made of high viscosity fluids. There’s a lot of waste, dirt, oil, and even chemicals in them, but they’re still water for the most part. A multi-stage pump system can use centrifugal pumps to divide its processes.

One stage will separate the water from the silt, waste, dirt, oils, fats, and chemicals. Once the semi-solid particles are separated from the water, the second stage can more effectively use centrifugal pumps because of the low viscosity of pure water.

These second-stage pumps can  make the dirty water go through filtration and purification methods, including chemical treatment and boiling or heating processes. The output of the second stage is then made to undergo the final stage of purification and treatment so the treated water can be reused.

Some liquids with very high viscosities such as slurries from mud and sediments, food products like butter and cream, paints, and adhesives would require centrifugal pumps with higher horsepower to be transported effectively and efficiently. In general, it becomes more difficult to move the media through your pumping system as the viscosity of the media goes higher.

Fluids can be grouped into four main groups based on their viscosity:

  • The first group are fluids with low viscosity levels, such as water, alcohol, and oil. These fluids move in the same way regardless of the level of agitation applied by the rotary impellers or the flow rates created by the velocity.
  • In the second group are food products such as cream or butter. In general, the viscosity of these media tends to increase with the level of agitation applied to them. The higher the level of agitation used by the rotary impellers, the higher the viscosity of these products. It isn’t good because it will separate the emulsions from the fluids.
  • The third group of fluids has a threshold that needs to be exceeded before they start flowing. When the threshold level is exceeded, their viscosity decreases as the level of agitation increases.
  • In the fourth group are greases, paints, and adhesives. The viscosity of these fluids tends to decrease as the amount of agitation applied is increased.

3. Fire protection systems

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Centrifugal pumps are also highly suitable for industrial use in fire protection and suppression systems. Centrifugal pumps are highly suited in fire suppression systems because they’re inherently capable of handling huge quantities of water and discharging them at extremely high flow rates. They’re also capable of regulating their flow rates over long distances, making them effective in fire prevention systems constructed for entire industrial complexes and buildings.

Centrifugal pumps pass on the velocity created by the rotation of their impellers towards the direction of the fluid flows. The rotating impellers are hydraulic components that pass on the created velocity to the pumped fluids.

The basic operating principle of centrifugal pumps is that they transform the velocity created by  turning  the impellers into liquid flow. In other words, the rotating impellers use their velocity to push the liquid to move towards where they’re supposed to flow. The liquid is pushed to flow towards the outlet where they’re expelled.

4. Flood prevention and control systems

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Centrifugal pumps are also suitable for industrial application in flood prevention and control systems. The need for centrifugal pumps for priming is supposedly one of their distinct disadvantages. But this inherent limitation can be translated into an advantage when centrifugal pumps are installed in flood prevention and control systems.

Coupled with the fact that they work best when submerged, this pump-priming requisite of centrifugal pumps makes them highly suitable in flood prevention and control systems. In other words, centrifugal pumps are perfect for flood control applications precisely because they work best when a flood of water submerges them. They won’t even start unless they’re flooded.

The basic working principle of centrifugal pumps is the appropriate solution to pump out floodwater and move them to lower levels or depressed areas where they can be discharged to flow towards natural bodies of water. Centrifugal pumps create a forced vortex. The rotation of their impellers creates a velocity that manufactures a vortex to suction waters near the inlet of the pump system.

The artificial bodies of water created by the flood are then forcefully suctioned by the inlet pipes that absorb input fluids. After suctioning, the pressurised floodwaters are then pushed by the rotating impellers to flow through the discharge head and the outflow pipelines. The rotation of the impellers will create an exterior torque near the inlet of the suction pipe. This exterior torque is the kinetic force that will manufacture a forced vortex and suction the floodwater inwards to the eye of the centrifugal pump.

5. Washing and cleaning

Another highly-suitable industrial washing and cleaning application of centrifugal pumps is for washing and cleaning. By their design and operation, centrifugal pumps are highly-suited for washing and cleaning applications because they can generate very high levels of velocity. They can translate these high levels of velocity into very high flow rates and water pressure.

Pressure washing and cleaning in manufacturing and industrial settings require high levels of water pressure. They use high levels of water pressure to remove the dirt from the components, parts, resources, or elements that they need to wash and clean.

Centrifugal pumps are suitable for this kind of work because their rotary impellers can create the energy required to move the waters and fluids from their static sources and conduct them through the pump system and outwards through the discharge piping.

The pump shaft turns the impellers. It converts dynamic mechanical energy through the shaft that runs to the axis, which turns the impellers. This enables the conversion of mechanical energy from impeller rotation into motion by the water and fluids. Most  mechanical energy is converted into kinetic energy flowing through the pumped fluids. Some of the mechanical energy is converted into potential energy in the form of pressure retained by the discharge fluid  to rise above gravity.

A concrete example of the industrial application of centrifugal pumps is in mining. Some of the ores extracted by mining companies are made to undergo pressure washing and cleaning to remove the unwanted dirt and sediments. This enables them to make the ores as clean as possible before they process them further to extract their needed elements.

In bottling companies such as beer and soda manufacturers, some  recycle and reuse the bottles where they store their beverages for packaging, distribution, and sale. But most of these bottles are unsanitary and not immediately reusable when returned to them. They need to clean these bottles. Cleaning them using pressurized water and liquid detergents is the quickest and most efficient method.

Conclusion

Centrifugal pumps are commonly used in diverse industrial applications because of their power, capabilities, versatility, range, and efficiency. Centrifugal pumps can produce huge amounts of mechanical energy  immediately translated to velocity and high flow rates to move and transport water and other fluids. They work best with water, alcohol, chemicals, and other low viscosity fluids. They’re highly efficient, and they don’t need a lot of maintenance work.

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