Wear in Centrifugal Pumps

Illustration of wear at the volute lip.

Centrifugal pumps are sometimes used in environments where the pumped product contains suspended solids. While some pumps are specifically designed for solid handling or slurry applications, normal centrifugal pumps do not contain features to prevent performance degradation from the impact of solids.

There are a few key signs that a conventional centrifugal pump is suffering from erosive and abrasive wear. Here are assessment and mitigation strategies to be considered and applied when this occurs.

Particles are a problem in a centrifugal pump due to the way the machine adds velocity to the liquid as it passes up the impeller channels. In general, the higher the speed at the tip of the impeller, the more energy that is imparted to any particle that is suspended within the liquid. This energy can then cause damage to anything it impacts.

Source: https://www.pumpsandsystems.com/wear-centrifugal-pumps 

Root Cause Analysis Uncovers Casting Defects

Efficiency and reliability are at the forefront of a successful pumping system. As such, unplanned outages can be a detrimental disturbance to the overall operation. In this case, the end user’s high pressure multistage  BB5 barrel pump was experiencing severe vibration, unstable performance, and failure in the field leading to unit shutdown.

This particular unit, used in boiler feedwater operations, is critical to the plant’s uptime and throughput. Furthermore, continued failures can cause growing costs due to inevitable maintenance and repairs, often overlooking a long term solution. With each unplanned outage, the plant could face a significant loss in capital.

Previously, the pump had been running for six months before experiencing catastrophic failure, requiring a shutdown and removal for further analysis. Initially, the unit’s damaged components were repaired by welding, and the volute was reassembled and installed for use. Upon its installation, the power plant placed the unit back into service but encountered a second emergency shutdown after two months in operation.

Video: https://vimeo.com/362808909

Source: https://www.pumpsandsystems.com/root-cause-analysis-uncovers-casting-defects-critical-boiler-feedwater-unit

The Basics of Reciprocating vs. Centrifugal Pumps

Image 1. A reciprocating pump’s fixed volume. Flow is determined by stroke, area and speed. (Images courtesy of Hydro)

Understanding the differences between these types of pumps can mean avoiding difficulties and reliability problems.

The demand for the duties that fall within the performance range of reciprocating pumps is rising. Process flows are falling while the pressures required are increasing.

Engineers are generally familiar with operating principles, performance curves and selection criteria for centrifugal pumps, but the training and knowledge around the operating principles of reciprocating pumps is not as common.

Unlike centrifugal pumps, reciprocating pumps have a stronger interaction with the system within which they sit. This is due to the pressure pulsations they generate.

If we think about any linear reciprocating motion of a piston, at some point the velocity of the piston is zero as it changes direction at the top and bottom of its stroke. This means that the pressure pulsations are much larger in a reciprocating machine than in a centrifugal machine.

Authored by Gary Dyson.
Source: pumpsandsystems.com

Asset Monitoring Improves Reliability & Visibility

Hydro remote condition monitoring A major pipeline transmission company found itself reconsidering the effectiveness of its maintenance strategy. The company faced a challenge: optimizing asset visibility and implementing remote condition monitoring of equipment health while avoiding a high-cost investment and installation disruptions.

This particular pipeline transfers a variety of products, ranging from gasoline to jet fuel, serving customers via pump stations and storage tanks across the United States. For this customer, it is imperative to ensure that pumping assets are efficient, reliable and safely maintained consistently. The pipeline supports the needs of more than 50 cities, thus making the pumping assets critical to the availability and overall operation.

Technology plays a vital role in day-to-day operations in supporting end user activities, ensuring strict safety regulations, optimizing maintenance and providing data on equipment health. In this case, the pipeline company wanted to significantly improve and innovate upon its current maintenance approach in two ways: by monitoring asset visibility in real-time and trending data for their critical pumping equipment.

Authored by Ares Panagoulias and Ken Babusiak.
Sourced: pumpsandsystems.com

An Engineered Battle Against Cavitation

The pump after upgrades and repair now has an impeller that operates at run-out flow condition safely and as per design.

A power station’s cooling water pumps were constantly being repaired, costing the plant millions of dollars in costs and service time due to the severe operational disruption and logistics required to remove and transport such large equipment. Previous attempts made by the station to improve the reliability of the impellers through upgraded material selections had little impact on reliability.

It was clear that something had to change as the station’s pump reliability was now a major financial focus. The many vane cracks, cavitation and broken vane sections that were weld-repaired during inspections throughout the pumps’ life cycles prompted the station to investigate a more permanent solution to the issue.

During the last repair, the reliability engineer inspected the impellers and found the cavitation was similar to those reported during prior repairs. An engineering repair company that specializes in fluid dynamics was asked to investigate the root cause of the continuing pump issues. The team conducted an investigation on the system layout and operation parameters.

The results of the forensic analysis showed that the impeller blades were suffering cavitation to the low-pressure side of the vanes. Additionally, the cavitation and cracked vanes toward the eye also indicated that the sizing of the inlet and its associated blade angles may be active factors in the repeated failures.

Source: https://www.pumpsandsystems.com/engineered-battle-against-cavitation