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How does a centrifugal pump work?

As the name suggests, a centrifugal pumps operates based on centrifugal force. You may be familiar with the concept from the example of someone rotating a bucket full of liquid at high speed. The liquid in the bucket is subject to a great centrifugal force, preventing the liquid from spilling out of the bucket. In case of a centrifugal pump, this same energy build-up occurs as a result of rotating impellers in the pump. In the centre of the fan, the liquid flows into the pump housing through the opening in front of the suction pipe. From here, the liquid is subject to a centrifugal force in between the impeller blades and exits the pump housing through the pressure pipe opening.

The centrifugal pump's axis - on which the impeller is mounted - is powered by a tractor, electric motor or, for example, a gasoline engine. The faster the impeller is rotated, the more energy build-up in the liquid. Eventually, the liquid will be discharged as a result of a large amount of energy. This energy is also referred to as the head rate. Centrifugal pump's often have a maximum head rate. To increase the head rate, one may use multiple centrifugal pumps. The energy from one pump is transferred on to the next pump, etc.

Properties of a centrifugal pump

  • Low maintenance costs, because there are few moving parts in the pump

  • An uninterrupted flow of liquid, unlike a displacement pump

  • Possibility of pumping contaminated liquids

  • Other type of foundation compared to a displacement pump as all impellers rotate at the same frequency, even at higher speeds

  • Cost per unit of liquid is lower compared to a displacement pump

  • Ideal for use in small spaces

  • Pressure dependent on the speed and volume flow

  • Unable to process air

  • Restrictions on the processing of small quantities of viscous liquids