centrifugal pump impeller

Demystifying Pump Impellers

A pump impeller is a vital component in a centrifugal water pump. The impeller plays a crucial role in moving fluids outwards from the centre point of rotation, regulating flow and moving solids. So, let’s dive into the world of impellers and discover their significance to effective and efficient pumping.

The Anatomy of Pump Impellers

At the heart of a centrifugal pump lies the impeller, a unique component with curved blades called vanes. Impellers come in various forms, but most feature backward curved vanes, which can be open, semi-open, or closed with shrouds. Contrary to popular belief, these curved vanes do not push the water directly. Instead, they rotate with the outer edge moving toward the expanding volute. When you turn the pump on, the motor spins the impeller, creating a powerful centrifugal force that moves the water.

Real-world examples of Pump Impellers

Pump impellers are used in different places, such as water treatment plants to move water through the treatment process, industrial settings to move chemicals or other fluids through pipelines, and power plants to push water through turbines to generate electricity. In the automotive industry, water pumps utilize pump impellers to circulate coolant through an engine to prevent overheating.

Essential functions of the Pump Impeller

The pump impeller is responsible for several essential functions within the centrifugal pump system:

  • Flow Rate Control: The impeller determines the rate at which the fluid flows through the pump. The shape and size of the impeller’s vanes play a vital role in regulating this flow rate.
  • Generating Pressure: As the impeller rotates, it creates pressure within the pump. This pressure is essential for pushing the fluid outward and provides the necessary force for efficient pumping.
  • Handling Solids: Another crucial aspect of the impeller is its ability to handle solids contained in the fluid. The design of the impeller (or specific impeller type) ensures that it can effectively manage and move solids without clogging the pump system.

Factors That Affect the Performance of the Pump Impeller

The thickness of the impeller and its rotational speed play a role in determining the pump’s volume rate. A thicker impeller and higher rotational speed result in increased volume flow. Conversely, the diameter of the impeller and its rotational speed primarily influence the pressure produced by the pump. Larger impeller diameters combined with higher rotational speeds lead to higher pressure outputs.

Using Multiple Pump Impellers to Increase Mixing Efficiencies

Sometimes, you need to use more than one pump impeller, for example, when using a tall cylinder with a small diameter to mix fluids. But does using more impellers in a mixer system automatically mean better mixing? In practice, the use of multiple impellers in a mixer system is influenced by various factors, such as the liquid level compared to the tank diameter.

As a rule of thumb, consider using two impellers when the liquid level is 1.2 times the tank diameter or more. However, the decision to add more impellers goes beyond tank geometry. It also depends on the specific gravity of the mixed fluids and their hydrophobic properties.

Interestingly, adding a second pump impeller doesn’t double the output flow produced by the mixer. Instead, it leads to an approximate increase of 35 to 40% in overall mixer output. This moderate increase demonstrates that using more pump impellers doesn’t necessarily enhance mixing efficiencies.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s pumping water or other fluids, impellers are the driving force behind the performance of centrifugal pumps. Through their unique design and rotation, impellers generate pressure, control flow rates, influence mixer outputs, and effectively handle solids.

Understanding the relationship between impeller design, rotational speed, and fluid dynamics allows you to optimize pump performance and achieve desired flow rates and pressures. So, the next time you see a pump in action, remember the essential role of the impeller and its contribution to the pumping process.

We’d love to hear from you! Reach out to us at 1-800-367-4180 (toll-free) to discuss your options. As Canada’s leading centrifugal pump supplier, we can help you choose, install, maintain, and monitor any pump and impeller. And answer questions about things you’ve previously tried gone wrong.