Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Centrifugal Pump Technology: Innovation to Improve Building Systems

If you own a large property in New York City, you probably have multiple centrifugal pumps as part of your building infrastructure. Understanding how these work and learning a bit about centrifugal pump technology can be very helpful when it comes to both fixing problems on your own or describing the issue to your pump specialist. Here’s a refresher on centrifugal pumps, along with some updates on the latest centrifugal pump innovations.

What Is a Centrifugal Pump?

One of the two basic types of pumps

There are two essential kinds of pumps used in most functions today: displacement pumps and centrifugal pumps. A centrifugal pump uses continuous flow and a rotating interior component called an impeller (see below) to move liquid. Usually, fluids moved by centrifugal pumps are of a lower viscosity, such as water. High-viscosity liquids typically fare better when moved by a displacement pump.

As the name implies, centrifugal pumps use centrifugal force as a key part of their mechanism. Centrifugal force is an outward force found within a rotating frame of reference, like a salad spinner, amusement park ride, or clothes washer on the spin cycle. You can feel this force for yourself sometimes when riding in a car on a curved exit ramp.

What Are the Parts of a Centrifugal Pump?

Impellers and more

The most important part of a centrifugal pump is the impeller, a fan-like component with multiple blades that rotates and moves liquid. The faster the impeller spins, the more centrifugal force is applied within the pump. Other important parts include:

  • Shaft – connects the motor driving the pump to the impeller
  • Casing – houses the pump from the outside environment
  • Valves – control the flow of fluid at the inlet and outlet sides of the pump
  • Seals and gaskets – prevent leakage from the inside of the pump
  • Strainers – filter out unwanted material, like mineral scale and sand
  • Bearings – reduce friction between moving parts of the pump
  • Mounting – a way to attach the pump to one spot to prevent it from moving

What Are Some Other Centrifugal Pump Terms You Should Know?

Single stage, two-stage, and multi-stage

A single-stage pump is the simplest centrifugal pump design with only one impeller. Easiest to maintain, this type of pump is generally used for high flow at low to moderate pressures.

A two-stage pump employs two impellers positioned side by side. The two impellers help when higher pressure is needed.

A multi-stage pump features three or more impellers aligned in a series. You’ll find this type of pump used in high-pressure environments.

Axial and radial split

With an axial pump, the casing is split parallel with the shaft. Axial pumps are usually mounted horizontally, which requires less headroom but takes up a larger footprint on the floor or mounting surface.

The casing of a radial pump is split perpendicular to the shaft. Typically installed vertically, axial pumps need more headroom but less square footage below. They are often used in higher pressure applications and can be more complicated to install and maintain.

Single and double suction

A single suction pump utilizes one impeller. Fluid enters the blades only on one side. A double suction pump permits fluid to enter on both sides of the impeller blades.

Cavitation

Highly undesirable, cavitation results when there is a large pressure differential between a pump and the source of the liquid it’s moving. Cavities or bubbles form in the fluid, which can rapidly damage the impeller and bearings, causing the pump to malfunction.

Vapor pressure

This is the point at which a liquid will turn into vapor at any given temperature. You must know the vapor pressure of the liquid you are pumping to avoid a phase change that could precipitate cavitation.

Operating temperature and pressure

These are the ideal conditions for operating any centrifugal pump. Operating temperature and pressure cannot be exceeded, lest you risk damaging the pump irreparably.

Working fluid viscosity

Most people define viscosity as the “thickness” of a fluid. Technically, it’s the ability to resist shear when energy is applied to the fluid. Working fluid viscosities are generally low for centrifugal pumps to compensate for any shear generated during the pumping process. For example, a centrifugal pump can handle water, but some heavier petroleum products might be too much for it.

What Are the Latest Innovations in Centrifugal Pump Technology?

Controllers and pump automation

While little has changed over the years about basic centrifugal pump mechanics, there has been a wealth of innovation in the last few decades to make these pumps run more efficiently. One of the best inventions has been the pump controller.

Pump controllers automate pump operation, freeing up manpower to take care of other tasks. This is especially helpful if you have pumps that run 24/7, such as for your building’s boiler or water distribution system. There are multiple other benefits to using pump controllers:

  • They reduce or even eliminate damage to the pump by monitoring pump conditions and shutting them off as needed for protection. They can detect dangerous pressure changes, leaks, running dry, overheating, broken valves, and cavitation.
  • By protecting the pump and by reducing manual operation, they save users money.
  • Pump controllers result in less wear in other related parts, such as boiler components and plumbing.

Other recent pump innovations include:

  • Improved submersibility
  • Smaller pump design for tight quarters
  • Booster pumps for skyscrapers and low-pressure situations
  • Variable speed motors
  • Better lubrication and gasket systems
  • Sophisticated mounting systems to reduce noise and vibration
  • Computer software programs for pump diagnostics and repair

Does Your Property Need Help Installing, Repairing, or Maintaining Pumps?

Call Antler Pumps

Whether you need new pumps installed, maintenance on your current pumps, or help repairing a malfunctioning pump, Antler Pumps should be your service of choice. We are New York City’s top pump experts, and we work on some of the biggest and tallest buildings in the city.

Call us today at 212-534-2500, or simply use our online form to schedule an appointment at your convenience.


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