Pump 101 – The Basics | RefinerLink
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Pump 101 – The Basics

By Steve Pagani

Aug 08, 2016
 

An introduction to the various types of pumps found in an oil refinery.

 
 

Pumps are one of the many critical pieces of equipment inside a refinery. They’re required to transfer fluid from one location to another, and you can’t do much without them. This blog is just a quick review of the various types of pumps and general services for a new engineer in an oil refinery.

 

 

Centrifugal Pump

Centrifugal pumps are typically the most common type of pumps found in a refinery. Any pumps with one or more impellers can be categorized as centrifugal. There are

quite a few different types of centrifugal pumps that can be used for a variety of applications.

 

A wide range of liquids can be pumped with these types of pumps. They can handle dirty liquids and liquids with low viscosity.

 

The liquid being pumped should not contain air or other vapors. These pumps are generally the best choice for low viscosity liquids and high flow rates.

 


  

Positive Displacement Pump

A positive displacement pump does not have impellers. Rather, it relies on rotating or reciprocating parts to directly push the liquid in an enclosed volume until enough pressure is built up to move the liquid to its destination.

 

These are typically the best choice for higher viscosity liquids. In many instances they’re utilized for low flow rates at a high pressure.

 


Many chemical injection pumps tend to be positive displacement types due to the need for a low flow rates into high pressure systems.

 

 

Axial Flow Pump

 

Axial flow pumps are also sometimes called propeller pumps. This type of pump is typically chosen to achieve very high flow rate with very low head pressure.


 

Booster Pump

Booster pumps are used to further boost the pressure in a system. It allows the building up of additional pressure need to move a liquid in a hydraulically challenged setting.

 

 

Screw Pump

A screw pump is a positive displacement pump that uses several screws to move liquid along the screws’ axis. A three spindle screw pump is often used to pump high pressure viscous fluids. Three screws drive the pumped liquid forth in a closed chamber and as the screws rotate in opposite directions the pumped liquid moves along the screws’ spindles.

 

 

Multistage Pump

Multistage pumps use multiple impellers generate more head than single stage (single impeller) pumps.

 

The casing on these types of pumps may be split radially or axially. Impellers are in an enclosed design with diffuser or volute casing. Multistage pumps are typically found in clean services for thin liquids.

 

 

 

Pump Seals

Mechanical seals are used to prevent leakage from rotating equipment. There is always a risk of a liquid, such as oil, leaking out of a pump and contaminating the environment. Seals reduce the probability of leaking by wrapping around a pump and providing a tight enclosure. There are several types of seals available to protect pumps.

 
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