Ever wonder why some impellers, fresh and new from the factory have holes in them? Or… why some impellers have those funny mini vanes on the back side? The short answer is to reduce the axial thrust in the pump and also to reduce the pressure in the stuffing box. 


Whenever you operate a centrifugal pump of any design there are always dynamic forces at play. A good engineer will address all of the forces in the pump and create designs to reduce and or eliminate the effects. There are several dynamics to deal with in the pump, but the two main ones are the axial and radial forces.

Axial forces are those that act on the rotor in a direction parallel to the shaft. These forces exist due to higher pressures acting on one side of a surface and/or acting on a larger area. The main surface area is the impeller shroud(s).

In large multistage pumps the axial force is mostly neutralized by the use of a balance drum. In other multistage pumps it can be managed by using the opposed impellers method. For example, in a 6 stage pump, 3 impellers face one direction and the other 3 face the opposite way.  Another example is the horizontal split case pump where the impeller has two inlet eyes that are opposed at 180 degrees to each other. The net effect is an almost balanced (negating) axial force.

ANSI style (B73.1) pumps are end suction types that use semi open impellers 99% of the time. These impellers have a shroud on one side only. This geometry makes them easy and less expensive to manufacture. However, a downside consequence is an impeller with higher unbalanced axial forces.

Under normal operating conditions there will be a much higher force on the back of the impeller than on the front. The resultant force will attempt to push the pump impeller towards the suction. The thrust bearing counteracts that force. It is not uncommon for a medium frame size ANSI pump to develop up to 850 pounds of force exerting in the direction towards suction. The axial force will lessen with higher suction pressures.

A designer could simply install bigger thrust bearings and not worry about the axial force, but the bigger bearings require bigger shafts and that requires bigger housings and all those things result in a pump that has both a bigger initial cost and a bigger maintenance cost.

The method most pump engineers use is to reduce the axial force behind the impeller. This is where impeller balance holes and or pump out vanes come into play as an axial force reduction method. You can’t get something for nothing so there is a small tradeoff with efficiency and power when using this approach.

For those of you that are interested in the details as to how and why pump out vanes and balance holes actually work, I will compose a more detailed article for Pumps and Systems magazine in the near future.

 

 

 

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We have all heard the term “flush” used when discussing mechanical seals. The definition of a flush is “a stream brought in from an external source to the mechanical seal.” This plan (API Plan 32) is almost always used in conjunction with a close clearance throat bushing. The flush fluid must be brought into the stuffing box at a minimum of 15 PSIG higher than stuffing box pressure.

The advantage is that the external flush fluid, when selected properly, can result in extended seal life. When an outside flush source is used, concerns regarding product dilution and/or economics must be considered by the user. The picture below shows API Plan 32 arrangement.

API Plan 32
Piping illustration used are copyright material and have been used with permission from AESSEAL

The confusion arises when our customers call a discharge recirculation (API Plan 11) a “flush”. Although this terminology is often used, this is where the confusion lies. This plan takes fluid from the pump discharge (or from an intermediate stage), through an orifice(s) and directs it to the seal chamber to provide cooling and lubrication to the seal faces. The advantage is no product contamination and piping is simple.

You must remember the fluid is coming back to the seal at a higher pressure. If the fluid contains particulate, you are bringing dirt and contaminants to the seal at high pressure. Think sandblaster. This is a good piping plan to control vapor pressure. Think hot water and flashing between the seal faces. The picture below shows a Plan 11 arrangement.

API Plan 32
Piping illustration used are copyright material and have been used with permission from AESSEAL

A primary factor in achieving highly reliable, effective sealing performance is to create the best fluid environment around the seal. Selection of the right piping plan and associated fluid control equipment requires a knowledge and understanding of the seal design and arrangement. As well as awareness of the fluids in which the seals operate and the rotating equipment to which they are fitted.

Provision of clean, cool face lubrication, effective heat removal and consideration of personnel and environmental safety, leakage management and controlling system costs are among the specific factors that must be considered. It is proven to prevent premature mechanical seal failure you must use a reliable seal support system.

 

 

 

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Snoring pumps… ever heard of such a thing?

I knew that pumps could run, burp, leak, stall and die (people “kill” them all the time),
but I didn’t know that pumps could snore.


Kidding aside, by definition a pump that is pumping a mixture of liquid and air is technically snoring. The term originates from the process noises associated with the phenomena.

Does your pump have the ability to pump normally, then operate dry for some length of time and then self-re-prime and return to pumping? And then…does it have the ability to repeat that process over and over? Probably not. Pump snoring is a condition that leads to reduced reliability and shorter pump life.

Most all centrifugal pumps DO NOT have the ability to pump liquids with air entrainment above 10% and almost never much above 14%. As a matter of fact, most all centrifugal pumps will have issues starting as low as 2% air entrainment. Note: that self-primers, recessed impeller (vortex) pumps and disc friction pumps can possibly pump mixtures at higher percentages.

 

 

 

Snoring is usually a term reserved for submersible pumps on dewatering applications at construction sites, but the phenomena can apply to most any centrifugal pump type and application.

Another application where this phenomena shows up is pumping a tank down to empty and/or for transfer. The snoring issue occurs frequently with batch process operations and if the operator (or the process control system) are “out to lunch” the pump consequently suffers mortal damage to the clearances, mechanical seals and bearings.

Sometimes it is not the operator, but the system design that creates the issue such as dissolved – air flotation (DAF) systems and waste water treatments that require additives such as surfactants, alcohols and soaps.

 

 

One of the main culprits for pump snoring is simply poor sump design, where the influent is dumped into the sump at elevations high above the liquid level at or near the pump suction intake without the benefit of weirs or baffles. This improper geometrical arrangement contributes to a “waterfall effect” pulling air into the liquid…it probably should be called the “water torture” method.

Other common causes for air entrainment are sumps that are too shallow, frequently experienced on cooling tower applications and in underground mining applications (minimum overhead space) where the air gets mixed into the liquid due to inadequate submergence thereby creating a vortex action.

Why do we care?
Entrained air is directly related to:

  • Reduced pump performance, both head and flow and often to the point of stall
  • Increase in vibrations and noise (the reduction in efficiency manifests as these)
  • Overheating
  • Higher incidents of shaft breakage

Furthermore…
Don’t confuse air entrainment with cavitation as they are two different things, but they can sometimes be related by a root cause and both can occur at the same time. Lastly, do not confuse dissolved air with entrained air.

Stop your pumps from snoring, don’t let them drink air before they go to bed.

 

 

 

 

For added background refer to my articles in Pumps and Systems magazine.
The links are below for your convenience.

How to Reduce or Eliminate Air Entrainment:
https://www.pumpsandsystems.com/how-reduce-or-eliminate-air-entrainment

Guidelines for Submergence & Air Entrainment
https://www.pumpsandsystems.com/guidelines-submergence-air-entrainment

 

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Green Bay, WI USA | Summit Pump, Inc. Remains open to continue supporting critical infrastructure sectors.

 

 

Effective Tuesday, March 24th 2020, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has ordered closure of all non-essential businesses, and urging citizens to “stay-at-home” to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

Summit Pump, Inc. has been identified as a component of the Critical Manufacturing group of workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed for the food and agriculture, energy, chemical manufacturing, water and wastewater treatment, and paper industries. 

Summit Pump, Inc. will remain open, and continue to support these essential infrastructure sectors. 

We have taken every precaution to ensure the health and safety of our employees, and will continue to monitor the updates from CDC and WHO. 

 

Sincerely, 

Scott R. Keller 

President 

This issue compliments an earlier issue (Volume 1 issue 12 from April 2018)
on the same subject. 

I am frequently asked; should the discharge valve be open or closed when the pump is started? My answer is….it depends, but regardless the suction valve better be open.


First Things First

Let me state that as visitors to client facilities we should never supersede their operating procedures.

Next, let’s look at the impeller. There are many things to consider, but the primary question we want to answer today is; what is the geometry of the impeller? From that shape we will determine the range of Specific Speed (NS). Ok, I may have lost you now because I used the nerdy “Specific Speed” term, but let me explain. Just for today’s purpose, let’s focus on the directional path of the liquid and specifically how it enters and exits the impeller.

Specific Speed is a predictive indicator for the shape of the curves for head, power and efficiency.

Low Ns

If the liquid enters the impeller on a path parallel with the shaft centerline and exits the impeller at an angle 90 degrees to the shaft centerline (at a right angle) then the impeller is in the low Specific Speed range. This would be a typical radial impeller like the Summit Pump model CC-FM.

Medium Ns

If the liquid enters the impeller on a path parallel with the shaft centerline and exits somewhere close to a 45 degree angle, then the impeller is in a medium Specific Speed range. These are mixed flow or Francis-Vane type impellers.

High Ns

If the liquid enters the impeller on a path parallel with the shaft centerline and exits in a path parallel to the shaft centerline, this is a high Specific Speed impeller. This axial flow type of impeller would look similar to a boat or airplane propeller.

Plan B

Don’t know the Specific Speed (NS) of the impeller? Ask the manufacturer.

Now for the Really Interesting Part

For low Specific Speed (NS) pumps the Brake Horse Power (BHP) required increases as you open the discharge valve and increase the flow rate, this is a direct relationship just as you would intuitively expect. For medium NS pumps the BHP curve and its maximum point moves back to the left some nominal amount … in the past you may have not noticed this change. Axial flow pumps, of high NS, the BHP is near its maximum point at the lower flow rates and actually reduces as the flow rate increases. Perhaps the opposite of what you would expect? Notice how the slope of the power graph also changes when the impeller design goes from low to high specific speed.

And…Answering the Original Question

I recommend that the discharge valve be closed on the startup of low Npumps and to be open on high Npumps. Note, this is a “thumb rule” and there are numerous caveats that can and will modify the answer.

  1. If the low Specific Speed (NS) pump is of any consequential size (Flow, Head and BHP) you may need to have the discharge valve slightly open to reduce the differential pressure across the valve. This step will minimize the effort to open the valve. Some pump systems will have a bypass line for this purpose.
  2. Systems that have downstream pressure (from another source) with no check valves (or check valves that are leaking by) can force the pump to spin backwards when the discharge valve is open.
  3. If you are starting a pump that will operate in parallel with another pump(s) you need to consider check valve lift points and controlling instrumentation (PID); this is a subject too cumbersome to explain in the “Sixty Seconds” platform.
  4. Normally, high Specific Speed (NS) pumps are started with the discharge valve open to reduce the electrical load and resultant stresses on the driver. In many cases the driver may not be adequately sized (on purpose) to handle the low flow power requirements and will trip offline.

 

 

 

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Rolling Stone’s front man Mick Jagger’s second favorite song verse is
“start me up”…”I’ve been running hot”.  

Did you also know there are restrictive limits regarding the number of times an induction motor can be started in a given time period? The restrictions are due to (“running hot”) temperatures and for that singular reason it is always prudent to know the pump’s application and duty cycle. This issue doesn’t normally come up unless you are troubleshooting or testing a system; but even then, there is never a good time to kill the motor.


Reason for Motor Failure
The biggest number one cause of motor failure is basically an argument, and it depends on if you consider both mechanical and electrical reasons. Regardless, always in the top few electrical reasons, is failure due to the insulation system.

3D Model ©ABB. Used with Permission.

A simple explanation for the motor starting restrictions is to mitigate thermal damage to the insulation system because the life of a motor is directly related to the insulation system. The amount of amps (I) (quantity squared) in a unit of time (I2T) will determine the amount of heat generated and the resulting high temperatures will shorten the insulation life. On average the heating effect of the I2T during startup is over a 100 times the full load heat effect during normal operations.

Thumb Rules
There is an industry rule for motors, coils and transformers that can be adapted to approximate the relationship between insulation life and total operating temperature. Simply stated, if a motor’s total operating temperature is reduced by 10°C (18°F) the thermal life of the insulation system is approximately doubled. The antithesis follows; if the total operating temperature is raised by 10°C (18°F) , the thermal life expectancy of the insulation system is reduced by one half.

Motor startups create copious amounts of heat in the windings. Due to manufacturing variances in motor construction the industry normally simplifies these heating effect factors as I2T. In reality it is much more complicated.

As a general motor “thumb rule” …the more horsepower and speed…the fewer number of starts that are allowed per hour. Just to add more rules and restrictions, there is also a minimum time allowance between starts. And last…it is always a good idea to let the motor run for at least a minute or two once it is started, if at all feasible.


Bonus Section
Sixty seconds is up, but if you want a little extra bonus information please read on.

Lessons from the field
Many cases of recurring motor failure (due to excessive startups) have been incorrectly addressed by increasing the horsepower rating of the motor. Typically this action has the opposite intended effect and actually shortens the time between failures. The root cause analysis later showed the real reason for these failures was the excessive frequency of starts and stops.

Guidelines
As a general guideline for NEMA design B motors, use the above chart as a guide. Note that most all of the motors you will encounter for centrifugal pump drivers will be NEMA design B.

Always check with the manufacturer to be sure.

 

 

 

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I don’t have one particular subject for this month’s issue, but instead a gentle reminder of several simple things. Just a list of pesky issues that keep popping up on a regular basis. These are things that should not be popping up.

…but in the spirit of the season we’ll just call them stocking stuffers.


Pumps Have Boundaries

Pressure and temperature boundaries are the most common violations we see in this boundary category. Don’t forget that pump suction pressure is part of the overall discharge pressure calculation.

 

 

Note: Allowable pressure limits decrease with increasing temperature and not all materials have the same ratings.

 

 

If there is any doubt please consult with us. We can send you a rating chart for both 150 and 300 class flange ratings.

Do not get a ticket from the boundary police.


Pumps are not “Plug and Play”

I repeat this message annually… no, monthly. No matter the manufacturer; the majority of all pumps do NOT come from the factory ready to start up.

The pump will require oil to be added to the bearing housings.

The impeller clearance must be determined and set for the fluid temperature. The direction of rotation should be ascertained and matched to the phase rotation on the motor driver (you must do this step with the coupling removed).

The driver will need to be aligned to the pump. When I tell people that they should align their pump nine times, I get some funny looks, but allow me to explain. Yes, the alignment may have been performed in the factory, but the very second the unit was moved for transport the alignment was lost. You will need to recheck the alignment when the unit is installed and leveled, again when the base is grouted, again after the piping is installed and again after the pump has been running up to temp.

The mechanical seal will need to be set after the above steps are completed.

Finally… please understand that most manufacturers do not install the coupling at the factory because it will just need to be removed for all the above reasons.

Be ready to complete these items, so you look like a pump professional.


Pump Testing

It shows that our client/customer base is becoming more sophisticated; because we see an increase in requests for performance tests. Testing is a great opportunity for us to exhibit our integrity and professionalism when our pumps are subsequently proven to meet the published performance data.

If the customer requires pump performance testing, the specific pump test and consequently the acceptable tolerances must be defined. The industry standard specification for our pumps is ANSI/Hydraulic institute 14.6-2011. But note, even within that 75 page specification there are numerous variables, detailed options and tolerance classes that remain to be defined.

The time to have the test, the delivery schedule and the subsequent costs defined is before the order is placed.

 

 

 

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Be very careful on self-primer lift applications because the liquid temperature
directly affects its vapor pressure and that…
changes the Net Positive Suction Head Available (NPSHA).


Example: Self-Primer – two temperatures… two outcomes:
For the example we will use two versions of the otherwise same application. The applications are identical in both versions except the temperature of the fluid is higher in the second version. The higher temperature signifies the vapor pressure has increased.

*Note: 14.7 PSI absolute atmospheric pressure x 2.31 divided by
the Specific Gravity of 1 = 33.96 feet rounds to 34).
Any increase in elevation will reduce your absolute pressure (head) and consequently the NPSHA.

In Example A the fluid is water at 68ºF.
In Example B the fluid is water at 150ºF 

As you look up the vapor pressure of water for each temperature note it is normally expressed in PSIA (pounds per square inch absolute) and so you need to convert that value to feet (head) then you will have the component value in the proper units needed to do the NPSHA calculation. Remember that to convert PSI (or PSIA) to head, you must multiply by 2.31 and divide by the specific gravity.

You can find these vapor pressure and specific gravity values in several places;
I use the Cameron Hydraulic Data Book or Cranes Technical Publication 410
(There are also several reputable web based sources).

 

Once you have the conversions then fill in the values for the formula and do the simple math steps (0.33889 X 2.31 = 0.783 ft. and 0.783 divided by 1 is 0.783). Then fill in the values in the NPSHA formula and complete the steps for the answer. Repeat these steps using the different values for Example B.

 

Note: The difference between the two versions for the value of NPSHA = 7.98 feet which is approximately 8 feet.

 

Summary: With all the parameters except temperature (vapor pressure) the same and simply changing the temperature of the fluid from 68 to 150 degrees we reduced the NPSHA by 8 feet. This may not seem like a big deal until you realize that the pump requires 13 feet of NPSHR at the condition point and now 12.24 feet is all that is available. The pump will not operate correctly and will be in a constant state of cavitation.

 

Corollary: Most pump manufacturers do not recommend using self–primer pumps on lift applications above 145°F for this reason. The solution for fluid temperatures above 145ºF will likely involve a vertical sump pump or a submersible pump.

 

 

 

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For those of us living in the northern hemisphere winter is coming and this message will serve both as a reminder and a warning as to the inevitable arrival of temperatures below freezing. 


For folks like us who reside in the higher latitudes, we know from experience that at some point in time (someday soon) the temperatures will fall below freezing. Before the freezing temperatures arrive we need to take action regarding those things that could be damaged in the freezing process. Simple things like the garden hose, the swimming pool, a boat or camper, and the forgotten items in the unheated garage/shed; like a pressure washer for example.

If you or your customers have a pump (and piping) that is not protected from freezing, you need to remove the water or the casing will crack and suffer expensive and permanent damage in the process. If you can’t remove the water then take steps to move the item to a protected area, add some type of anti-freeze, or add heat trace/tape.

 

 

If you live in a more moderate climate, at lower latitudes, where it doesn’t freeze very often you may not think about these things or take any precautions. And this is also the same geographical area where we sell a lot of replacement casings when it does freeze. For some reason self-primer pumps are overlooked more often than other types. I guess because folks forget about the water in the priming chamber.

 

 

Did you know that water is one of the only liquids that expands when it freezes? A few solid elements expand when they freeze, but water is the essentially the only liquid that expands due to its crystalline structure. When liquid water is cooled down from standard temperatures, it contracts as you would expect until around 37 degrees F, but then as the temperature lowers below 37 degrees the water expands slightly until it reaches the freezing point. When water freezes it expands by about 9%.

Winter is coming and the nights are long and cold. Will your pumps be ready?

 

 

 

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products in a timely manner,
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