Main Parts of a Centrifugal Pump
Each centrifugal pump is made of hundreds of parts. There are a few components that virtually every centrifugal pump has in common. These components can be subdivided into the wet end and the mechanical end.
The wet end of the pump includes those parts that determine the hydraulic performance of the pump. The two primary wet ends are the impeller and casing. In some cases, the first radial bearing can be water lubricated. In this case, also bearing can belong to wet ends.
The mechanical end includes those parts that support the impeller within the casing. The mechanical end of the pump includes the pump shaft, sealing, bearings, and shaft sleeve.
These components are designed to perform specific tasks:
- Impeller. An impeller is a rotor used to increase the kinetic energy of the flow.
- Casing (Volute). The casing contains the liquid and acts as a pressure containment vessel that directs the liquid flow in and out of the centrifugal pump. The volute is a curved funnel that increases in area as it approaches the discharge port. The volute of a centrifugal pump is the casing that receives the fluid being pumped by the impeller, slowing down the fluid’s flow rate. Therefore, according to Bernoulli’s principle, the volute converts kinetic energy into pressure by reducing speed while increasing pressure. Some centrifugal pumps contain diffusers. A diffuser is a set of stationary vanes that surround the impeller. The diffuser directs the flow, allows a more gradual expansion, and therefore increases the efficiency of the centrifugal pump.
- Shaft (Rotor). The impeller is mounted on a shaft. A shaft is a mechanical component for transmitting torque from the motor to the impeller.
- Shaft sealing. Centrifugal pumps are provided with packing rings or mechanical seal, which helps prevent the leakage of the pumped liquid.
- Bearings. Bearings constrain the relative motion of the shaft (rotor) and reduce friction between the rotating shaft and the stator. There are at least 5 common types of bearing, each of which operates on different principles:
- Plain bearing
- Rolling-element bearing
- Jewel bearing
- Fluid bearing
- Magnetic bearing
Types of Impellers in Centrifugal Pumps
Impeller design is the most significant factor for determining the performance of a centrifugal pump. A properly designed impeller optimizes flow while minimizing turbulence and maximizing efficiency.
The impeller of a centrifugal pump can be of three basic types:
- Open impeller. Open impellers have the vanes free on both sides. Open impellers are structurally weak. They are typically used in small-diameter, inexpensive pumps and pumps handling suspended solids.
- Semi-open impeller. The vanes are free on one side and enclosed on the other. The shroud adds mechanical strength. They also offer higher efficiencies than open impellers. They can be used in medium-diameter pumps and with liquids containing small amounts of suspended solids. Because of the minimization of recirculation and other losses, it is very important that a small clearance exists between the impeller vanes and the casing.
- Closed impeller. The vanes are located between the two discs, all in a single casting. They are used in large pumps with high efficiencies and low required Net Positive Suction Head. The centrifugal pumps with closed impellers are the most widely used pumps handling clear liquids. They rely on close-clearance wear rings on the impeller and the pump casing. The closed impeller is a more complicated and expensive design because of the impeller, but additional wear rings are needed.
The impeller blades can be:
- Backward-curved blade design (preferred design due to the negative slope of performance curve)
- Radial blade design
- Forward-curved blade design (due to positive slope conditions, this design can cause pump surge)
Impellers can be either:
- Single-suction. A single-suction impeller allows liquid to enter the center of the blades from only one direction.
- Double-suction. A double-suction impeller allows liquid to enter the center of the impeller blades from both sides simultaneously. This reduces forces exerted on the shaft.
The output pressure slightly changes according to the design used. The blades may be open or closed. Also, the diffuser may be fitted with fixed vanes to help guide the flow toward the exit. The energy transferred to the liquid corresponds to the velocity at the edge of the impeller. The faster the impeller revolves or, the bigger the impeller is, the higher will the velocity head be.
In general, centrifugal pumps can be classified based on how fluid flows through the pump. It is not classification based on the impeller alone but based on the design of the pump casing and the impeller. The three types of flow through a centrifugal pump are:
- radial flow
- mixed-flow (part radial, part axial)
- axial flow (propeller type)