Process pumps are an important piece of equipment in oil refineries and the petrochemical industry. They are used to move chemicals around the facility, including through piping systems and across vessels that allow for safe disposal or recycling. For this reason, it is very important that you know what they do and the way they work so then you can make informed decisions about how best to use them and know what kind of problems can arise and what you should do when they arise.
1. PROCESS PUMP TYPES
There are two types of process pumps that you will likely encounter in oil refineries and the petrochemical industry. As the experts from Eddy Pump showcase, knowing the types of pumps out there will ensure that you choose the one that will be the most efficient for your business. The first type is a general duty pump, which can handle different flow rates at different pressures. For example, it might be able to move 50 gallons per minute (GPM) at 100 psi but also 10 GPM at 250 psi. The second type of pump is a specialty duty pump that can handle only one specific flow rate at either low or high pressure. For example, the pump might be able to move 100 GPM at 500 psi but also 500 GPM at 10 psi. Some of them can pump solids, while other special duty pumps, like chemical metering pumps, can handle chemical reactants. The special pumps are preferred over the general duty ones because they require less maintenance and are more efficient. The capacity of each type of process pump is measured in gallons per minute (GPM) but the pressure must also be given unless it’s a specialty duty pump that can only handle low or high pressure.
2. HOW ARE PROCESS PUMPS USED?
In chemical plants, they are used to transport chemicals from one location to another, including within plants and across large distances. They move the chemicals through piping systems from one vessel to the next and from one storage location to another. They can be used to provide chemical dilution, which is when a small amount of a chemical is added in with a large amount of another chemical so they can react more easily. Sometimes, they are used in processes where gases need to be turned into liquids or vice versa. It is also very common for them to be used in refineries to transport crude oil from the storage tanks where it’s pumped into large vessels that act as holding tanks. The vessels are connected to the facility via large piping systems that span across the entire length of the refinery. Each vessel has its own process pump, which is used to move the oil through the facility. They also transport products between different tanks and even heat them up in furnaces before they’re sent off for further processing.
3. HANDLING PROCESS PUMPS
As with any piece of equipment, there are some special things you need to know about process pumps before you start using them in your chemical facility. To begin with, most process pumps are designed for continuous duty, which means that they run all the time until they need to be serviced or replaced. They are made of heavy metal parts inside a cast iron frame and rotating shafts attached to long impellers that are connected to the motor. These are usually electric motors and they don’t need to be turned on and off as often as other types of equipment because they’re always being used. However, if a pump runs dry, it can cause serious damage so you have to pay attention to the flow indicators that monitor how full a tank or vessel is getting at all times. You should also know that impellers are usually made of carbon or stainless steel, which has the advantage of being strong but not too heavy. They can be altered if necessary because they’re attached to the rotating shaft by keyed couplings, which are expensive to replace so you want to avoid doing that whenever possible.
4. FEATURES TO LOOK FOR
Not all process pumps are created equally. As already mentioned, there are different types of process pumps out there. However, regardless of the type, there are still some things to look for when you’re making your purchasing decision. For example, all of them should be designed with materials that are strong enough to handle the chemicals they will be transporting without corroding. They also need to have corrosion-resistant features like double mechanical seal protection and even special coatings on impellers so they don’t get eaten away by the chemicals in use. The best type of impeller material is stainless steel because it’s not too heavy and doesn’t corrode easily, but if you have to go with carbon, that’s alright because it has all the same features as stainless steel. Another important feature is having a shaft made of tempered alloy for added strength. It should also have a keyed coupling so the impeller can’t fly off during operation.
Knowing what process pumps are used for and the key things to look out for when making your decision about which pumps you want to buy is important. However, having a general idea of how they work so if you ever get stuck trying to troubleshoot one, means that you’ll have an easier time because now you know what they’re capable of and what you can do to fix them if they malfunction. As long as you keep these 4 things in mind, you will be fully equipped with the knowledge you need to make a decision that is right for your process and facility.