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Selecting a Pump for Heavier Slurries

Jul. 05, 2022
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Slurries are very difficult to pump, and many traditional pump types are not suited for this type of application.  Heavy slurries are abrasive, solid laden, highly viscous, and much heavier than water. Although pumping slurry is very difficult, pumping heavy slurry is much more challenging due to the increased weight of the material. This type of application is extremely difficult for water pumps and other types of centrifugal pumps because they are not designed to pump heavy slurries.  


Water pumps and centrifugal pumps are commonly misapplied to slurry and heavy slurry applications, but are more suited for applications that involve thin fluids. Ultra duty mud and slurry pumps are specifically designed for the harder to pump, heavier slurries found in many industrial settings such as mining, manufacturing, and construction applications.

Ceramic Slurry Pump

Ceramic Slurry Pump     

Applying a Slurry Pump to Heavier Slurries

When pumping heavy slurries it is critical to maintain a constant flow through the pipeline, the flow of the material must flow at a specific rate given the type of slurry material that is being pumped.  The specific velocity of flow can be measured in feet per second.  The continued movement of the material through the pipeline assists with avoiding settling at the bottom portion of the piping. Applying the pump correctly requires pre-planning and determining what the critical flow rate must be given the heavy slurry material being pumped.

 

The critical flow rate is also defined as a flow that involves turbulence, or is described as turbulent, not laminar.  In this regard, critical flow rate is relational to the specific velocity of the fluid that achieves a turbulent flow.  This turbulence of the fluid is important to avoid settling of the material in the pipeline.  Critical velocity changes due to the density and coefficient viscosity of the fluid.  

Ceramic Slurry Pump

 Ceramic Slurry Pump

 

Selecting a Pump for Heavier Slurries

To avoid selecting and misapplying the wrong pump for a heavy slurry application, there are some important considerations that must be adhered to.

 

The pump chosen must be capable of generating a turbulent flow that can maintain the suspension of the slurry to avoid settling the slurry at the bottom of the piping.


Another important factor in selecting a pump is selecting one designed with a large flow-through liquid path that allows easy passage of heavy slurry.  This alone helps to determine what types of pumps are well suited for heavy slurry applications and what types are not.


Strong suction at the inlet port of the pump is important so that the pump can draw the heavy slurry into the pump so that it can move the fluid downstream. The most appropriate materials of construction are important to avoid extensive wear due to the abrasive characteristics of heavy slurries.

Vertical Centrifugal Ceramic (SIC) Sump Pump

 Vertical Centrifugal Ceramic (SIC) Sump Pump

 

Selecting a Motor For Heavy Slurry

With heavier materials, the motors driving the pump will be pulling much more power compared to move the same quantity of a lighter, less dense material. This requires a larger pump motor that can handle heavier materials without wearing down. The amount of power a pump requires is calculated from the discharge head, flow rate, and specific gravity of the material to be pumped. It is vital to verify that the power rating of the selected pump is higher than the calculated power required after considering reasonable variations in operating conditions.

 

Slurry pumps can be powered hydraulically or electrically. While there are pros and cons to each type of motor, one motor may be preferable over another simply due to logistics. The motor needs to be matched for the pump and the application for optimal performance.


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