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Getting In Your Pumps Head

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Getting In Your Pumps Head

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Getting In Your Pumps Head

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September 26, 2010


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It is a fact that too many industrial pumps are problematic, and ill suited for the
application. Many people are aware that the water pump on the radiator of their car will
run 12 to 15 years, and the Freon compressor on their refrigerators will last 18 to 20
years without problems. In light of such pumping dependability, plant operators are
concerned that they cant get similar life out of their circulating chill water and cooling
tower pumps. Too many industrial pumps seem to eat bearings and seals and spend too
much time in the maintenance bay.
Maintenance costs on industrial pumps can get out of control when the pump is
inadequately mated to its system. Because the pump must respond to the needs of the
system, the root cause of pump failure normally lies in the system.

Larry Bachus

A pumping system has a flow requirement and a head


requirement. Flow is production (marketing, sales,
consumption). Head is the nature and design of the process of
production. For example, if a system requires 200 gallons per
minute at 38 feet of head then youll need a pump with a best
efficiency point (BEP) that coincides with 200 GPM at 38 feet
of head on the pump curve, or very close to those coordinates.
It is relatively easy to understand 200 GPM. The 38 feet of
system head requires some thought. The 38 feet of system
head is called the Total Head (TH). The purists use the term
Figure 1. There are four elements that go into
TDH, meaning Total Dynamic Head. You may also hear Total
the total head of a pump system: static,
Developed Head and Total Discharge Head. The Total Head,
pressure, friction, and velocity.
or TDH, is composed of four elements:
1. The elevation change, called the Static Head or Hs.
2. The pressure change, called the Pressure Head, or Hp.
3. The friction losses across the system, called Friction Head, or Hf.
4. The velocity losses across the system, called Velocity Head or Hv.
TDH = Hs + Hp + Hf + Hv (Figure 1). Lets consider each of these elements.
Hs is static head. If youre pumping from down here to up there, that distance in feet is the Hs. For example, a
pump is used to circulate water in a cooling tower, raising the water from the reservoir pan below the tower to
the top of the cooling tower.
If the elevation change is 30 feet, then the Hs = 30 feet. Here is another example. Parts of New Orleans are
below sea level and the Mississippi River. Rainwater and storm water must be lifted up over the levies and into
the river with pumps. If
this vertical distance is 12 feet, then the pumps must generate 12 feet Hs. By observing the system and noting
the elevation change, this distance in feet is the Hs.
Pressure head, Hp, is also rather easy to understand. Hp is the pressure change across the system. If both suction
and discharge vessels are exposed to the same pressure (whether high pressure, atmospheric pressure, or
vacuum), then there is no differential and no Hp to consider. If there is a pressure differential across the system,
then there is Hp. We are generally concerned with positive pressure differential. However, it may be negative if
the pressure on the suction vessel or source is higher than the pressure on the discharge vessel.
The calculation is Hp = PSI differential x 2.31/specific gravity. The 2.31 and specific gravity were discussed in a