The Danger of Pressure Pulsation in Centrifugal Pumps
Pressure pulsation is the oscillation of pressure in a fluid system. Similar to what you may have experienced during a shower when the pressure suddenly becomes weaker or stronger, pressure pulsation can occur in pipes, valves, pumps, and other fluid-carrying components.
Pressure pulsation can be dangerous for the centrifugal pumps often used in large industrial or wastewater management systems. It can cause several problems, including vibration, erosion, cavitation, noise, and reduced efficiency. In some cases, pressure pulsations can be dangerous. For example, pressure pulsations can cause pipelines to rupture, which can lead to leaks of hazardous or toxic fluids. In centrifugal pumps, pressure pulsations can lead to premature pump failure or damage to other system components.
How does pressure pulsation occur in centrifugal pumps?
Centrifugal pumps impart energy to the pumped fluid through the impeller. As the impeller rotates, it accelerates and discharges fluid at a higher pressure. This process can result in turbulence, leading to chaotic changes in pressure and flow. These fluctuations can be more or less severe according to the pump’s design, the type of pumped fluid, and the conditions in which the pump operates.
The effect of pressure pulsation on a centrifugal pump
Pressure pulsation can have several adverse effects on centrifugal pumps, including:
- Vibration: Pressure pulsation can cause vibration in the pump, piping and other system components. This vibration will cause pump components to erode or wear over time, leading to premature failure.
- Cavitation: Pressure pulsation can cause cavitation, which is the formation of bubbles in a liquid. These bubbles collapse violently, causing damage to pump impellers and bearings.
- Noise: Pressure pulsation can cause noise, which can be a nuisance to operators and nearby residents. It can also mask other important sounds, such as those indicating a pump problem.
- Reduced efficiency: Pressure pulsation can reduce the efficiency of a centrifugal pump as energy is lost due to excess heat and vibration.
How can you prevent pressure pulsation in centrifugal pumps?
There are several ways to prevent pressure pulsation in centrifugal pumps, including:
- Reducing vibration with pulsation and surge dampeners: Dampeners absorb pulsation during operation and ensure stable discharge flow and pressure.
- Pump design: The design of a centrifugal pump has a significant impact on the amount of pressure pulsation that it produces. The correct design (and choice of a pump) will reduce the potential for pressure pulsation and avoid the many problems it can cause.
- Use of split-vane impellers: A split-vane impeller can minimise pressure pulsation. Read more about using a split (or staggered) vane impeller and learn about its efficiency cost.
Pressure pulsation is a severe problem that can damage centrifugal pumps, pipes, and other components. If you’d like to take decisive steps to prevent pressure pulsation and protect your equipment, call us at 1-800-367-4180 (toll-free).
As Canada’s leading centrifugal pump supplier, we can help you choose, install, maintain, and monitor any pump or system. And to answer questions about things you’ve previously tried gone wrong.