Selecting pumps for new or scaled applications 

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Beginning production of a new formulation, batch, or innovative product can often bring new challenges. Knowing which pump to use can be another. Independent pump manufacturer and distributor Northridge Pumps looks at some factors to consider when selecting the best solution.

Container emptying, batch transfer, container filling, pilot plants, and test rigs are some of the most common applications encountered when trialling a new application or scaling a process.

But what considerations should be given to such pumps, and which pump might deliver the results you need?

Container emptying & filling

Containers are supplied in various sizes, from small totes to 205l Drums and 1000l tanks known as IBCs.

Such fluids are sometimes so thick that when delivered in barrels or containers, if the incorrect pump technology is chosen, fluid is not pumped – holes are made with the pump within the container of fluid, rather than it being completely emptied, with large amounts of product remaining.

Not only is the product within the centre of containers a cause for concern, but also fluids that may remain stuck to the side of the container, and the amount of wastage this can generate.

Through careful planning, versatility can be introduced into container emptying applications. By selecting differing pump lengths, a single motor can be used with multiple barrel pump types, enabling the handling of multiple fluids – from thin to viscous, safe to flammable, or inert to corrosive.

Pilot plant or test rigs

Test rig pumps are pumps used to enable testing of components, testing of concepts and also in educational machines for the understanding of engineering principles such as fluid dynamics.

As new equipment is developed, a small-scale plant is built as a proof of concept, allowing testing and establishing limits. Often, such plants are built on a tight budget, but that doesn’t mean performance should be compromised.

A user of dielectric cooling systems contacted Northridge Pumps, wanting to test a newly developed fluid, and they sought assistance in selecting the right pump for this application. A centrifugal pump could achieve the duty, but was that the right choice?

At first glance, it met their budget and handled a duty point relatively easily, but due to centrifugal pump design, whereby flow alters with pressure as speed is reduced, it would mean that incorrect conclusions would be drawn.

After discussing the merits of a positive displacement pump, in which flow remains constant with pressure and is directly proportional to speed, the client opted for this solution as they could reach conclusions with far greater certainty than if they had chosen a centrifugal design.

Batch transfer

Batch transfer involves the bulk transfer of set amounts of fluid within a time frame. It can be used for applications involving the filling or emptying of vessels or the mixing of ingredients.

Suppose the pump is used in a plant where mixtures change along with the fluid’s viscosity and consistency. In that case, careful attention will need to be paid to ensure that the pump can handle the characteristics of different fluids, such as increased specific gravity, which can pose challenges for some designs.

Similar to the positive displacement pump example above, having a pump where flow and pressure can be altered according to the fluid viscosity will ensure the pump meets process requirements and will not have issues during the emptying of vessels when fluid contents are low or transferred volumes change.

Creating versatility

So, what factors should be considered when looking to scale production or conduct trials?

  • Viscosity: Can differing viscosities be transferred?
  • Solids: Will particles be transferred without damage to the unit?
  • Sensitivity: Will the fluid be transferred without alteration?
  • Flow output and pressure: Can the output be altered easily?
  • Multi-use: Is the unit easily ported between tanks or processes?
  • Future proof: Is the unit upgradeable for future applications?
  • Personalised batches: Can the unit handle small personalised batches and be fully sanitised between fluids?

www.northridgepumps.com

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