Energy used by pressure pumps tends to be an invisible cost that ends buried in many other expenses. However, the reality is that improving the efficiency of a pump can have a strong impact on increasing the return on investment (ROI) of a company.
This is because the further away a pump is from its best energy point, the more energy it will use and the less reliable and efficient the system will be. This increases operating costs and can cause maintenance issues.
Discover all about pressure pumps
Use of pressure pumps and how do they work
Pressure pumps are used in many commercial, industrial, and even residential settings. More precisely, they are used for irrigation, water supply, gasoline supply, air conditioning systems, refrigeration, sewage movement, flood control, chemical movement or marine services among others.
Based on the types of pumps, their functioning is one or another. We will review it in greater depth in the next section.
Types of pressure pumps
According to the pressure they produce, pumps can be:
- Low pressure pumps: they can only produce flow at low pressures and if the outlet pressure becomes too high, they will no longer create flow.
- High pressure pumps: they can produce flow at high pressure.
Another possible classification is by method of displacement. In this case, we can identify five different types of pumps:
- Positive-displacement pumps: they move the fluid by repeatedly enclosing a fixed volume and moving it mechanically through the system.
- Impulse pumps: they use the pressure created by some gas -often air-. More specifically, when the gas trapped in the liquid is released it creates a pressure that can push part of the liquid upwards.
- Velocity pumps: the fluid enters the rapidly rotating impeller along its axis, which increases the fluid’s velocity and pressure and also directs it towards the pump outlet.
- Gravity pumps: they are water pumps that work without electricity, as energy comes from a spring, creek or pond located above the pump.
- Valveless pumps: no valves are present to regulate the flow direction. That is why they are mainly used in biomedical and engineering systems.
What is pump efficiency?
By pump efficiency we understand the effectiveness of a pump in turning input shaft power into useful power output to the fluid and it is calculated using the following formula:
Pump Hydraulic Power Output (kW) x 100 / Pump Input Shaft Power (kW).
Pump efficiency is determined basically by two parameters: head and flow rate. Nonetheless, there are other factors that also affect it such as properties of the fluid, impeller design and motor speed selected.
The impact of pressure pump efficiency
Energy costs represent a sizable portion of the lifetime cost of a pump, particularly, around 55%. This means that focusing on pump efficiency is vital to reduce both the expenses and the carbon footprint at the same time.
But there is even more worrying data: research shows that the average pumping efficiency is below 40% and over 10% of the pumps are running below 10% efficiency. Therefore, it is necessary to regularly check whether your pumps are operating efficiently. One way to do it is measuring the power it consumes and check it against the pump’s performance curve.
And, what are the factors that affect pump efficiency? There are mainly three:
- Throttled valves.
- Pump over-sizing.
- Worn internals.
Tips to improve pump efficiency
There are 10 basic tips to successfully improve pump efficiency. Let’s take a quick look at them!
- Monitor pump performance: use gauges as early warning of wear or poor performance caused by blockage or system anomalies. Monitor also vibration, pressure and flow, current and power and thermodynamics.
- Improve the sealing: defective sealing accounts for almost 70% of pump failures in many applications, causing massive energy losses.
- Know the limits of the pump and materials of construction: choosing the right materials is vital to prevent abrasive wear of internal components such as valve seats, check balls, impellers, gears or pistons.
- Properly size the pump for the application: there is a tendency to overdesign to avoid underperforming, but this only creates waste and inefficiency. When pumps are excessively oversized, speed can be reduced with gear or belt drives or a slower speed motor.
- Properly design and size the suction piping: proper pipe diameter can prevent sedimentation, which in turn means saving energy by reducing losses due to friction. This frictional power depends on flow, pipe diameter and length, pipe characteristics such as surface roughness or material and properties of the fluid being pumped.
- Isolate mechanical vibration: use suction stabilizers and discharge pulsation dampeners to reduce pipe vibration and ensure longer gasket and seal life. Build also a proper foundation that firmly anchors the pump.
- Conduct routine maintenance: timely replacement of wear parts results in greater pump efficiency and prevention of greater damage. It is also recommendable to periodically flush pumps with clean water to prevent corrosion.
- Train the operators: operators being able to report issues with system pressure or flow rate and organize the necessary maintenance when necessary is key to properly maintain the installations.
- Use parallel pumping systems: if your design allows it, it is a good option to handle a range of flows compared to using just one large pump.
- Conduct an energy audit: technology evolves and so must do the company’s systems. Consider if the initial investment in the use of new and alternate technologies are cost-effective and a better option for your operations.
How to improve pressure pump efficiency with EPP
Due to its exceptional properties, EPP is a great ally when it comes to improving pressure pump efficiency.
Its high resistance to impact makes it a great shock and vibration absorber. This means it is useful for isolating the mechanical vibration of the pumps. that can lead to inefficiencies.
For its part, due to its impermeability and outstanding insulation properties, it is a great option to avoid defective sealing, which is the main cause of pump failure. Also the nuisance of the machinery is reduced thanks to its high degree of acoustic insulation.
Last but not least, pumps lose efficiency with age. As they get older, pump performance decreases. This process is inevitable and relentless. However, using durable materials such as EPP lengthen its lifespan.
Knauf appliances: Our solutions
Knauf Industries has been a well-known player for many years in the design, development and industrial production in sectors that regularly use pressure pumps, such as HVAC and automotive industry. Therefore, it offers a broad range of solutions in this regard, being EPP the most prominent material.
- HVAC sector
Thanks to its lightweight, structural, thermal and acoustic insulation properties, EPP helps to increase performance and reduce the cost of manufacturing equipment in the HVACR sector.
It plays a particularly relevant role in heat pumps, the part of HVAC equipment that can provide both heat and cooling. A heat pump uses mechanical energy to remove heat from the air and move it inside or outside the space. It is no wonder that it is essential that they are properly insulated to avoid energy losses and protected from vibrations to prevent other inefficiencies.
- Automotive industry
The high impact absorption of EPP coupled with its mechanical resistance make it a suitable material for certain passive safety elements in vehicles. This is why it is used in seats, boot compartments, or mat cushions, among others. It is also used in car seats for children and to protect car batteries and other electronic equipment.
Besides, its lightweight capability helps reduce fuel consumption and achieve greater energy efficiency and its insulation capacity is essential to guarantee the fuel pump’s efficiency.
Additionally and as a common value to both sectors, Knauf Industries also offer numerous solutions related to the logistics of the technical parts. The durability of EPP allows for multi-use, transport ready packaging for many different types of loads. This together with its versatility and customization enables the safe transportation of all product sizes, from enormous automotive industry or home appliances to tiny delicate electronic components.
All in all, pressure pump efficiency is often an underrated issue. Nonetheless, ensuring their correct functioning can result in an important decrease in unnecessary costs. A good way to start caring about it is choosing materials such as EPP, which helps avoid energy losses and other inefficiencies.