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Improving Reliability

and Efficiency of
Centrifugal Pumps

ven nowadays, the ubiquitous centrifugal

pump the beating heart of so many processes can still be a weak link where
failure can have significant consequences.
One failure mode is seizure of the metal wear rings
due to run-dry conditions or other off-design operation. In the chemical and oil and gas processing
industries such pump failures can cause expensive
repairs, potential loss of product to atmosphere,
and possible process losses.

The larger clearance reduces hydraulic damping

forces from the wear rings that can result in increased vibration and shaft deflection. In turn, that
places greater wear and tear on moving parts, and
can lead to more frequent seal and bearing failures.
When you consider that the repair of an API-style
pump costs an average of 10 000 (about $13 000),
not factoring in the extra cost of potential downtime and lost production, increasing the clearance
can be a very expensive fix to this problem.

Long-Term Performance in Centrifugal


No-flow operation of a boiler feed water pump caused these metal wear
rings to weld together requiring extensive repairs. Replacement of
metal parts with DuPont Vespel CR-6100 parts provided better
operation in no-flow conditions.

To reduce the risk of pump seizure, maintenance

shops sometimes increase the gap or clearance
between the wear rings. While this may minimize
contact at the wear rings, it can create a new set of
problems for example increased vibration and
loss of efficiency.


A better solution is to replace metal wear components with advanced next-generation non-metallic
parts made of composite materials, permitting much
closer clearance between moving parts, and enhanced
run-dry capabilities should a process upset occur.
One of the most
successful and wellproven non-metallic
wear component materials is DuPont
Vespel CR-6100
composite. Vespel
CR-6100 parts are inDuPont Vespel CR-6100 parts
creasingly used in such as wear rings have proven their
thousands of pumps durability and performance benefits in
at facilities operated by BP,
and hundreds of re- pumps
ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Lanxess,
fineries and petro- Shell and Sunoco.

chemical plants around the world. Companies using Vespel CR-6100 include BP, ConocoPhillips,
ExxonMobil, Lanxess, Shell and Sunoco.
These major pump users are testimony to the fact
that installing Vespel CR-6100 wear parts in centrifugal pumps can upgrade the efficiency and longterm reliability of the pump.

Vespel CR-6100 Performance and

DuPont Vespel CR-6100 composite parts and
shapes are specified for wear rings, line shaft bearings, bowl bearings, throat bushings and pressure
reducing bushings in most types of centrifugal
pumps. Other important uses include compressor
valve plates, mixer and agitator bearings, gear pump
idler bushings, valve seats, thrust washers, mechanical seal components, wear strips and plates.
DuPont Vespel 6100 offers a CTE lower than
steel, and can withstand condensate, light hydrocarbons, amines, strong acids, sour water, gas liquids, gasoline and other aggressive fluids, and
operate in hostile service conditions involving high
pressures and temperatures from cryogenic up to
260C generally beyond the capabilities of PEEK
(polyether ether ketone) thermoplastic which has a
glass transition at 143C.

reduced to values up to 50% less than the recommended minimums for metal components as specified in API 610/ISO 13709, by replacing the stationary
metal wear parts with Vespel CR-6100 parts, with
the rotating wear component remaining metal. Tighter
clearances improve pump efficiency and reliability.

Increased Reliability and Total System

Cost Savings
The conversion of pump wear parts to Vespel
CR-6100 has been reported to lead to substantial cost
savings through increased pump reliability and effi-

Ref: Aronen, Robert The Power of Wear Rings: Efficiency, Pumps &
Systems, April 2011

ciency. Conversion cost payback

can be less than 12 months.

Efficiency Gains

Material properties of DuPont Vespel CR-6100 parts

ISO/API Standards
Industry experience with Vespel CR-6100 has
led to inclusion of the material in API 610, 11th
Edition/ISO 13709:2009, Centrifugal pumps for petroleum, petrochemical and natural gas industries. Vespel
CR-6100 is listed in Annex H, Table H.3 of the
standard, under the generic description PFA/CF
reinforced composite.

Reduced Clearance
In practical terms, this means the clearance of wear
ring and bushing components can potentially be

Pump efficiency increases when

wear ring clearance is reduced. The
tighter clearance reduces internal
recirculation within the pump, reducing the power required to produce the desired flow rate. The relationship between
clearance and pump efficiency is well documented
in industry textbooks, and has been demonstrated
with field studies and on pump test stands.
The efficiency gain achieved is related to the pump
specific speed. Specific speed is a pump design factor
which shows the relationship between flow and head.
Most industrial process pumps have a specific speed
in the range of 500 to 2000 (ISO units 10 to 40). For
these pumps an efficiency gain of 2-5% can be expected when clearance is reduced by 50%. For a 100
HP (75 kw) pump, a 4% efficiency gain will produce
savings of $1600/year (assuming a typical industrial

power price of $0.06/kwh). If clearance can be reduced by more than 50%, efficiency gains and savings can be significantly higher.

Reliability Increases
Vespel CR-6100 wear rings with reduced clearance also increase pump reliability. As noted above,
the non-seizing properties and run-dry capabilities
of Vespel CR-6100 help pumps survive off-design
process conditions which could cause metal components to seize.
In addition, reducing the wear ring clearance in a
pump increases hydraulic stiffness and damping,
resulting in lower vibration levels and less wear and
tear on critical pump components like mechanical
seals and bearings. This is known as the Lomakin
Effect, where the wear rings produce dynamic rotor
stiffness in the pump.

results were maintained for several years of operation. The key conclusions of that study were:
Repairs, vibration levels, and seal leaks were
all substantially reduced
Several pumps which were previously troublesome have run for more than five years with
zero failures
Multi-stage pumps and pumps with start/
stop operation showed the most significant
reliability improvements.

Annual repairs to 61 pumps evaluated over five years by Boulden

International fell by 45% following replacement of metal wear rings with
Vespel composite wear rings with clearance reduced by 50%. Source:
Robert Aronen, Boulden International and Martin Russek, Sunoco.

The inverse relationship between wear ring clearance

and rotor stiffness: As the wear ring clearance is cut in
half, the stiffness coefficient from the wear rings doubles.
(Ref: Aronen, Robert, The Power of Wear Rings:
Understanding the Lomakin Effect Pumps & Systems, March 2011.)

Superior Long-Term Performance

A study by Boulden International demonstrated
the superior long-term performance of Vespel
composite wear rings monitored closely in 61 centrifugal pumps monitored over a period of five
years. In a first study phase, the number of repairs
was reduced by 45%, overall vibration by 25% and
LDAR (leak detection and repair) seal leaks by
70%. The long-term study confirmed that these


DuPont offers a Vespel Application Guideline to help part manufacturers and pump operators in evaluating the optimum interference fit
and clearance. To download the guideline, visit:

More Reliable Pumps What Users Say

Testimonials from major pump users indicate
that replacing metal wear parts with DuPont
Vespel CR-6100 parts has enabled them to improve pump performance, and make savings in
energy and operating costs.
Case 1: Reduction in seizures
A large process facility in Alberta, Canada,
experienced operating problems with a 9-stage
boiler feed water pump heavily dependent on
12 chrome metal wear components for rotor

stability the root cause of several pump seizures.

All stationary wear rings, inter-stage case bushings, throat and centre-stage bushings were converted to Vespel CR-6100 parts. The facility reports
that the pump now meets full load production
demands, vibration and risk of metal-to-metal seizure has been dramatically reduced and amperage
draw has fallen by 5%, saving the plant about $6200
(approx. 4570) per year for one pump.
Case 2: Over 10% energy savings
A major pump manufacturer in Asia reported
front and rear side metal wear ring problems in a
horizontal single stage naphtha equivalent liquid
transfer pump. Wear ring clearance had been increased to avoid risk of seizure, but this caused
instability, an over current problem and pump
inefficiency. Since changing the wear rings to
Vespel CR-6100, it has been reported that pump
power consumption has been reduced from
3.67KW to 2.91KW, operation is more stable due,
and efficiency has increased by 10.1% compared
to previous efficiency data.
These efficiency and energy gains were achieved
because of the enhanced dry-run capability of
Vespel CR-6100 enabling the company to reduce wear ring clearance with no loss of resistance to chemicals.

By replacing metal and or PEEK wear components
with Vespel CR-6100 wear parts pump reliability
and efficiency can be increased, thereby lowering
total system cost.

The information set forth herein is furnished free of

charge and is based on technical data that DuPont
believes to be reliable and falls within the normal range
of properties. It is intended for use by persons having
technical skill, at their own discretion and risk. This data
should not be used to establish specification limits nor
used alone as the basis of design. Handling precaution
information is given with the understanding that those
using it will satisfy themselves that their particular
conditions of use present no health or safety hazards.
Since conditions of product use and disposal are outside
our control, we make no warranties, express or implied,
and assume no liability in connection with any use of this
information. As with any product, evaluation under
end-use conditions prior to specification is essential.
Nothing herein is to be taken as a license to operate or a
recommendation to infringe on patents.
Caution: Do not use in medical applications involving
permanent implantation in the human body. For other
medical applications, discuss with your DuPont customer
service representative and read Medical Caution Statement H-50103-3.
Copyright 2012 DuPont. The DuPont Oval Logo,
DuPont, The miracles of science, Kalrez, and
Vespel are trademarks or registered trademarks of
E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company or its affiliates.
All rights reserved.
Enquiry Number 10/12-03

This publication thanks Mr. Geoff Lewis,

European Segment Leader, Energy & Materials
Handling, DuPont Vespel Parts & Shapes
for providing this article.

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