The Basics of Reciprocating vs. Centrifugal Pumps

engineering column PD pumps Understanding the differences between these types of pumps can mean avoiding difficulties and reliability problems.

The demand for the duties that fall within the performance range of reciprocating pumps is rising. Process flows are falling while the pressures required are increasing.

Engineers are generally familiar with operating principles, performance curves and selection criteria for centrifugal pumps, but the training and knowledge around the operating principles of reciprocating pumps is not as common.

Unlike centrifugal pumps, reciprocating pumps have a stronger interaction with the system within which they sit. This is due to the pressure pulsations they generate.

If we think about any linear reciprocating motion of a piston, at some point the velocity of the piston is zero as it changes direction at the top and bottom of its stroke. This means that the pressure pulsations are much larger in a reciprocating machine than in a centrifugal machine.

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Pump Renovation Restores Balance

Vibration issues with a two-stage pump forced a major steel manufacturer to remove the pump from service. Due to incorrect weights welded on an impeller, a steel manufacturer called upon Hydro to repair and balance a two-stage pump.

Written by: Ken Babusiak (Hydro, Inc.)
Published by: World Pumps

The pump was experiencing the vibration during the spring and summer months of 2016. The steel company sent the pump to HydroAire’s Chicago, IL facility in September of that year. HydroAire was able to determine the cause of the vibration and created a solution that got the pump back in operating condition. The pump was installed and back in service by February, 2017.

The initial testing and analysis deter-mined that the impeller had large weights welded onto it. The steel company was concerned for many reasons, especially because the staff knew that using weights was not the correct way to balance an impeller. This caused the steel manufacturer to question the manner in which the pump had previously been repaired.

Weights added to impellers

Adding weights to impellers is generally not standard practice.

Where not to position the weights.

Where not to position the weights.

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