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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Reciprocating Pumps

There are three classes of reciprocating pumps: piston pumps, plunger pumps, and diaphragm pumps. Basically, the action of the liquid-transferring parts of these pumps is the same, a cylindrical piston, plunger, or bucket or a round diaphragm being caused to pass or flex back and forth in a chamber.

The device is equipped with valves for the inlet and discharge of the liquid being pumped, and the operation of these valves is related in a definite manner to the motions of the piston. In all modern-design reciprocating pumps, the suction and discharge valves are operated by pressure difference. That is, when the pump is on its suction stroke and the pump cavity is increasing in volume, the pressure is lowered within the pump cavity, permitting the higher suction pressure to open the suction valve and allowing liquid to flow into the pump. At the same time, the higher discharge-line pressure holds the discharge valve closed. Likewise on the discharge stroke, as the pump cavity is decreasing in volume, the higher pressure developed in the pump cavity holds the suction valve closed and opens the discharge valve to expel liquid from the pump into the discharge line.

The overall efficiency of these pumps varies from about 50 percent or the small pumps to about 90 percent or more for the larger sizes. Reciprocating pumps, except when used for metering service, are frequently provided on the discharge side with gas-charged chambers, the purpose of which is to limit pressure pulsation and to provide a more uniform flow in the discharge line. In many installations, surge chambers are required on the suction side as well. Piping layouts should be studied to determine the most effective size and location. If surge chambers are used, provision should be made to keep the chamber charged with gas. A surge chamber filled with liquid is of no value. A liquid-level gauge is desirable to permit checking the amount of gas in the chamber.

Reciprocating pumps may be of single-cylinder or multicylinder design. Multicylinder pumps have all cylinders in parallel for increased capacity. Piston-type pumps may be single-acting or double acting; i.e., pumping may be accomplished from one or both ends of the piston. Plunger pumps are always single-acting.