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Centrifugal pumps

1. Why is it important to know about centrifugal pumps? 2

2. Who should know about centrifugal pumps? 4

3. The principle of a centrifugal pump 5

4. Typical parts in a centrifugal pump 7

5. Sanitary centrifugal pumps 9

6. Typical range of centrifugal pumps 11

7. Centrifugal pump selection 13

8. Installation 15

9. Operation and service 17

10. Troubleshooting 19

Glossary 21

Other handbooks in this series 23

1. Why is it important to know about
centrifugal pumps?
A centrifugal pump is typically the most common sanitary pump
type used in sanitary processes. Benefots include a relatively low
purchase cost, wide selection, simple design and easy

The various aspects of centrifugal pumps are very important to consider

when dealing with flow technology and flow equipment.

Understanding the aspects of centrifugal pumps makes it easier to select

correct pumps, optimize processes and minimize costs.



Fig.1.1. Process with centrifugal pump (principle)

Standard Multi-stage High-clean

Fig.1.2. Centrifugal pump types (principle)


Shaft Impeller

Fig.1.3. Centrifugal pump design Fig.1.4. Centrifugal pump

(principle) selection (principle)

Examples of centrifugal pumps

1. A centrifugal pump is used in processes with non-viscous and non-
particulate fluids, e.g. beer, CIP, cream, milk, soft drink and purified
2. There are typically many types of centrifugal pumps available for
various types of applications.
3. The main parts of a centrifugal pump are motor, shaft, adapter, shaft
seal, impeller, casing and seals.
4. A centrifugal pump is typically selected from a pump curve or a pump
selection program.

2. Who should know about centrifugal pumps?

All people in touch with flow equipment during its life cycle should
know about centrifugal pumps.

It is important that the target group knows the various aspects of centrifugal
pumps, including principle and design, available types, selection, suitability
and limitations related to given processes.

This ensures that processes are optimised and that errors, damage and
personal injuries are avoided. The target group includes:

1. Process designers, who should know what centrifugal pump types and
configurations to select so that the process is optimised related to
quality and costs.
2. Sales and sales support people, who should know the possibilities and
limitations of centrifugal pumps related to applications/processes in
3. Field operators, who should know the possible causes of centrifugal
pump malfunction and know how to solve them.
4. Beginners in the flow industry, who should have a basic understanding
to work efficiently.

3. The Principle of a centrifugal pump

The centrifugal pump transfers fluid at a certain capacity from one

point to another in a process. The pump builds up fluid pressure to
overcome losses in the process. Capacity and pressure are created
by the rotating impeller inside the pump casing.

General principle:
Fluid enters the pump casing and impeller center and is forced into a
circular movement by the impeller vanes and the centrifugal force. The
fluid thus leaves the casing with increased pressure and velocity.
Typically suitable for low viscous, non-particulate and non-aerated fluids
such as beer, CIP, cream, juice, milk, soft drinks, water etc.

Single-stage principle:
The fluid inlet, the built-up of velocity and pressure and the fluid outlet all
happens in one stage (one casing and one impeller).

Multi-stage principle:
Fluid enters the pump casing and impeller center, and fluid pressure and
velocity are built up in the first stage (casing and impeller) similar to the
single-stage pump.
Fluid with increased pressure and velocity is directed to the second
stage (casing and impeller), where the fluid pressure and velocity is
further increased.
The result is a pressure increase (boost) in each stage, where the total
pressure increase depends on the number of stages in the pump.
Typically available with 2-4 stages.

Priming of a centrifugal pump:

The pump casing should always be filled with fluid before starting the
pump to ensure correct operation.
The pump can operate with a positive inlet pressure (flooded inlet) or
with a negative inlet pressure (suction lift).
For suction lift, fluid can remain in the pump casing by using a non-
return valve in the suction line.

Rotating Fluid
impeller out Casing
Casing 3

2 Rotating

Fig.3.1. Single-stage centrifugal Fig.3.2. Single-stage centrifugal

pump (principle) pump (principle)

Fluid Fluid
out Stages out
2 1
2 1
Fluid impellers Fluid
in in

Several stages
Pressure increase
during stages!

Fig.3.3. Multi-stage centrifugal Fig.3.4. Multi-stage centrifugal

pump (principle) pump (principle)

Fully fluid
filled casing!


Pinlet > 0 = Flooded inlet

Pinlet < 0 = Suction lift

Fig.3.5. Priming of pump Fig.3.6. Priming of pump for

(principle) suction lift (principle)

4. Typical parts in a centrifugal pump

A centrifugal pump is a relatively simple pump. Design, types and

numbers of parts vary depending on centrifugal pump brand, type
and configuration.

Typical main pump parts:

Main pump part Description/function
Casing/backplate Contains impeller where fluid is transferred
from inlet to outlet.
Includes inlet and outlet ports.
Typically flexible port orientation.
Typically fitted to an adapter.
Shaft Rotates impeller which is fixed to it.
Is fixed to the motor and rotates with it.
Impeller Transfers fluid from inlet to outlet with
increased capacity and pressure.
Is fixed on the shaft and rotates with it.
Typical types are open, semi-open or
Shaft seal Seals between rotating shaft and stationary
Typically a mechanical seal, external or
Typically available as single, single flushed
and double flushed seal.
Adapter Fixes pump casing to the motor.
Motor Rotates shaft (impeller) which is fixed to it.
Typically a 3-phase electrical motor.
Typically available for various electrical site
supplies (voltage and frequency).
Typically available in various protection
classes (flameproof etc.).
Other parts Seals, motor cover, seal flushing, coupling/
base (base-mounted pump).
Typical materials Steel parts of 316L or 304 stainless steel.
Elastomers of NBR, EPDM, FPM, PTFE.


Shaft Impeller

Fig.4.1. Main pump parts Fig.4.2. Pump casing/port

(principle) orientation (principle)

Fig.4.3. Impeller types/design Fig.4.4. Mechanical shaft seal

(principle) (single seal principle)

Motor Coupling Casing

Base Motor shaft/

pump shaft

Fig.4.5. Mechanical shaft seal Fig.4.6. Base-mounted pump

(flushed seal principle) (principle)

5. Sanitary centrifugal pumps

A sanitary centrifugal pump is designed according to given hygienic

standards. This includes easy cleanability and use of correct
materials for internal pump parts.

Large radii and clearances:

Use large radii on corners to ensure easy cleaning.
Use large clearances to ensure good fluid and cleaning flow.
Critical areas are welds and connections in general, porting and shaft
seal areas.

Drainage ensures that the pump can be emptied completely so that
there are no remains (no sump) of processed fluid or cleaning agents.
Drainage is typically achieved through a drain fitted on the bottom of the
pump casing or by rotating the casing outlet so that fluid can drain from
The critical area is the bottom of the pump casing.

Minimum elastomer usage:

Elastomers wear down over time and can cause contamination.
Therefore, elastomer usage and elastomer surface exposed to fluids
should be minimised.
If possible, seals should be designed with fixed compression. Seal
contraction/swelling due to fluids/temperature should be minimised.

Correct materials and surface finishes:

Typical materials for fluid-contact parts are 316L stainless steel and
various elastomer grades. Elastomers are often FDA-compliant.
Typical surface finishes of fluid-contact parts are 1.6m (64Ra) or 0.8m
(32Ra), normally machined or polished.

Wrong! Correct!

Fig.5.1. Large radiis (principle) Fig.5.2. Large clearances

(shaft seal principle)




Fig.5.3. Drainage (principle) Fig.5.4. Minimum elastomer

usage (principle)

Fig.5.5. Correct materials and surface

finishes (shaft seal principle)

6. Typical range of centrifugal pumps

A centrifugal pump is typically available in many types and

configurations to fulfil most process demands. This includes
standard pump, high-pressure pump and high-clean pump.
The available types depend on the pump brand.

Standard pump:
For most applications, typically with max. system pressure of 10 bar
(147 psi).
Typically available in many sizes to cover a wide range of duties.

High-pressure pump:
For example for filter applications, typically with max. system pressure of
approx. 40 bar (588 psi).
Typically with a heavy casing/backplate design, with internal shaft seal
and special motor (bearings) to withstand high inlet/system pressures.

Multi-stage pump:
Working as pumps coupled in series. Typically a booster pump for high
pressure at relatively low capacity.
Typically with a heavy casing/backplate design, with internal shaft seal
and special motor (bearings) to withstand high inlet/system pressures.

Self-priming pump:
Working as a liquid-ring pump for aerated fluids, such as CIP return.

High-clean pump:
For pharmaceutical or similar applications with demand of increased
Typical design features are 45 casing outlet, casing drain, flushed shaft
seal, polished surface finish and material traceability.

Pumps with typical optional equipment:

Pump with heating/cooling jacket, fitted to pump casing to either heat
viscous fluids or to cool heat-sensitive fluids.
Pump with inducer fitted to the impeller to increase suction capability.

Special Internal
motor shaft seal

Heavy casing/

Fig.6.1. Standard pump Fig.6.2. High-pressure pump

(principle) (principle)

Special Internal High 45o casing

motor shaft seal pressure!

Heavy casing/ drain
backplate seal

Fig.6.3. Multi-stage pump Fig.6.4. High-clean pump

(principle) (principle)

Heating/cooling Casing

cooling Heating/
supply cooling

Fig.6.5. Pump with heating/cooling

jacket (principle)

7. Centrifugal pump selection

A successful centrifugal pump operation very much depends on

correct pump selection. It is important to get all necessary process
and site data, as well as customer preferences to ensure correct
pump selection.

Determine process type:

Standard sanitary or high-clean process?
High inlet pressure or booster process?
Influences the selection of pump type (standard, high-pressure, high-
clean etc.).

Collect fluid data:

Such as type, temperature, viscosity, abrasives, solids etc.
Influences the use of shaft seal type and seal face material.
Influences selection of elastomers and surface finish (often preference).

Collect performance/site data:

Such as capacity, inlet pressure, head, NPSHa, and risk of cavitation.
Such as voltage supply, frequency, and installation conditions.
Influences the pump and motor size, shaft seal and motor type.

Pump selection/configuration:
Select suitable pump configuration according to guidance shown and
according to recommendations of pump suppliers.
Select/size suitable pump from pump curve or pump selection program.
Ensure correct pump/motor type, size, porting, shaft seal, surface finish
and elastomer grade.

Process curve
Fig.7.1. (Selection principle)
The pump is sized by using the pump Pump curve
duty (QD,HD) in the pump curve. Correct
pump/impeller size is the intersection HD
point between the process and pump
curves. D3 D2 D1

1. Get process/ Standard sanitary? Standard pump
fluid data:

- Fluid type? Aerated? Self-priming pump

- Viscosity?
- Density?
- High-pressure
- Temperature? High pressure/booster? pump
- Particles?
- Multi-stage pump
- Concentration?
- Other?
Purified water, WFI etc? High-clean pump

- Pump with internal

2. Get performance/ High inlet pressure? shaft seal (if
site data: possible)
- Capacity? - Shaft seal with
- Head? hard face material
- NPSHa? - Motor with special
- Voltage? - Special combination bearing design
- Frequency? of voltage/frequency?
- Other? - Flame-/explosion Special electric motor

3. Get porting/ Size, orientation, Check process and

connection data standard? customer demands

4. Get surface finish Machined, polished, Check process and

electro-polished, other? customer demands

- Non-mechanical/ - Check compatibility

5. Get shaft seal
mechanical seal? - Check with pump
- External/internal seal? suppliers
- Single seal?
- Single flushed seal?
- Double flushed seal?

- Check compatibility
6. Get elastomer NBR, HNBR, EPDM, - Check with pump
grade FPM, PTFE, other suppliers

Fig.7.2. Centrifugal pump selection process

(guidance only)

8. Installation

A centrifugal pump should always be installed correctly according

to given instructions from the pump supplier. This ensures correct
pump operation and it minimises risk of pump damage and possible
personal injuries.

Pump/piping alignment:
Align pump/piping and support piping so pump casing is not stressed.
Stressing of the pump casing can cause seal leakage and cause metallic
contact between impeller and casing so that the parts are damaged.
Align pump/motor/coupling carefully (for base-mounted pump).

Vibration and thermal expansion:

Compensate for vibration and thermal expansion of long piping, for
example by installing compensators between the pump and piping.
Vibration and thermal expansion can stress the pump casing and cause
shaft seal leakage and damage casing, shaft, shaft seal and impeller.

Seal flushing supply:

If fitted, connect and supply flushing fluid for a flushed shaft seal
correctly according to instructions. Ensure correct fluid type, flow and
Supply fluid before starting the pump and disconnect fluid supply after
stopping the pump.

Electrical supply:
Connect and supply electricity to the motor according to instructions.
Ensure that motor data are in accordance with given site electrical
supply (voltage and frequency).
Before use, check the pump after installation to ensure smooth operation
and correct rotation of direction of the impeller.

Priming of pump:
Ensure that the pump casing is filled with fluid before starting.
Check the installation/suction conditions to ensure that available suction
pressure (NPSHa) is higher than required (NPSHr) from the pump. This
minimises the risk of cavitation.

Align casing
and motor! Align piping Compensate
and casing! vibration/
Motor Coupling thermal

Base Casing piping! Compensator

Fig.8.1. Pump/piping alignment / Fig.8.2. Vibration and thermal

support (base-mounted expansion (principle)
pump principle)

Correct direction
of rotation!
Start/stop fluid
flow correctly!

Correct seal Voltage?
flush data! Frequency?

Fig.8.3. Seal flushing supply Fig.8.4. Electrical supply

(principle) (principle)

Fully fluid
filled casing!

NPSHa > NPSHr No cavitation!

inlet pressure!

Fig.8.5. Priming of pump (principle)

9. Operation and service

A centrifugal pump should always be operated and serviced

correctly according to given instructions from the pump supplier.
This ensures correct pump operation and best process quality and
it minimises risk of pump damage and possible personal injuries.

Pump operation:
Prior to use, check the pump after installation to ensure smooth
operation and correct direction of rotation of the impeller.
Start and stop the pump carefully. Use soft starter or frequency
converter if required of the motor or process.
Pay attention to moving parts and hot equipment.
Pay attention to possible leakage from the shaft seal.
Never throttle/block both suction and discharge sides of the pump.

Pump cleaning:
Handle cleaning agents according to instructions; use protective gloves
and goggles.
Clean frequently according to instructions.
Pay attention to hot equipment, hot cleaning agents/water and possible
steam supply.
Pay attention to possible leakage from the shaft seal.
Use flushed shaft seal to clean seal faces from sticky and crystallising

Pump service:
Disconnect fluid supply/pressure and electrical supply before service.
If fitted, disconnect seal flushing supply before service.
Pay attention to moving parts and hot equipment.
Service and replace parts according to instructions and regulations.
Before use, check the pump after service to ensure smooth operation
and correct direction of rotation of the impeller.

Frequency meter Flow
converter out
Never block
both lines! Shut-off


Fig.9.1. Centrifugal pump operation Fig.9.2. Centrifugal pump operation

(principle) (principle)


cleaning agent!

Fig.9.3. Centrifugal pump cleaning Fig.9.4. Centrifugal pump cleaning

(principle) (flushed shaft seal principle)

Shaft Casing
seal gasket

wear parts!

Fig.9.5. Centrifugal pump service


10. Troubleshooting

It is important to get all necessary pump and site installation

data/information to ensure correct identification of a pump failure.
This ensures that the pump failure is solved fast and efficiently.

General information:
Good description of pump failure and process, get sketches and
possible worn parts, if possible.
Check and compare nominal/original process conditions with actual.
What has changed in process since satisfactory operation?
Has the pump been undergoing recommended/routine maintenance?
Have any spare parts been replaced on the pump?
When was the last maintenance of the pump?
How was the condition of internal pump parts?
How long did the pump operate satisfactorily before failure?

Most common pump failures:

Failure Possible cause/remedy
Shaft seal Incompatible seal/fluids, cavitation/vibration,
leakage temperature, pressure, incorrect installation or
service, dry running.
Check compatibility and pump instruction manual.
Noise and Cavitation, worn parts, misalignment.
vibration Check process, pump parts and installation.
High power Worn pump/motor, high capacity, high viscosity/
consumption density.
Check pump/motor, pump duty and process.
Loss of capacity Incorrect impeller rotation, high viscosity.
Check rotation and process.
Loss of suction Low NPSHa, aerated/blocked suction line, high
viscosity, incorrect impeller rotation, worn parts.
Check process and pump parts.
Fast wearing Incompatible pump parts/fluids, cavitation/vibration,
temperature, pressure, incorrect installation or
service, dry running.
Check compatibility and pump instruction manual.

Noise! Vibration!

Fig.10.1. Leaking shaft seal Fig.10.2. Noise and vibration

(principle) (principle)

motor! Check impeller


Fig.10.3. Overloaded motor Fig.10.4. Loss of capacity

(principle) (principle)

Check impeller
Check for air rotation!
in casing/line!



Source: Burgmann

Fig.10.5. Loss of suction Fig.10.6. Worn shaft seal part

(principle) (principle)


Aseptic Process and component design which ensures that

there is no increase of bacteria content in the
processed fluid.

Capacity The maximum volume of fluid that can pass a

certain area per unit of time.

CIP Cleaning In Place (cleaning without dismantling

equipment first).

Double seal A flushed (water or similar) shaft seal with

mechanical seal faces on both the pumped fluid
side and on the flushing side.

Dry running No pumped fluid between seal faces. Will quickly

wear down the seal faces due to excessive heat.

Elastomer Non-metallic sealing part with elastic properties, e.g.

natural or synthetic rubber.

External seal Seal design where most rotating seal parts are
outside the pumped fluid. The most common seal

Flooded inlet Positive inlet pressure/head.

Flow equipment Equipment used in flow systems. Examples are heat

exchangers, pumps, valves, tubing, fittings and tank

Fluid Liquids/media (non-solid and non-gas) processed in

flow system.

Flushed seal External (water or similar) flushing arrangement,

typically used to cool or clean the seal faces.

Frequency converter Electronic device to regulate speed of an electric

motor. Common and economical way to control
pump performance.
High purity Process with special cleanability demands. The term
is typically used within the pharmaceutical industry.

Impeller Mechanical pump part fitted on the pump/motor

shaft. The rotating impeller (vanes) converts fluid
velocity to fluid pressure.

Inlet pressure Fluid pressure entering the pump inlet. Will affect
the seal faces.

Internal seal Seal design where most rotating seal parts are
inside the pumped fluid. Suitable for high pressure.

Mechanical seal Shaft seal where seal faces (sealing interface)

consists of a stationary and a rotating mechanical
seal part.

Non-mechanical seal Such as packed gland, typically used for industrial

(non-sanitary) types of applications.

NPSH Net Positive Suction Head.

NPSHr Required minimum pressure in suction line to avoid


NPSHa Available suction pressure at actual process


Pressure Force per unit area.

Suction lift Negative inlet head/pressure.

Viscosity Specifies how thick or thin a fluid is.

Other handbooks in this series
1. Pressures in flow systems
2. Cavitation
3. Fluid properties
4. Pumps for sanitary processes
5. Centrifugal pumps
6. Sizing centrifugal pumps
7. Rotary-lobe pumps
8. Sizing rotary-lobe pumps
9. Pump motors
10. Pump-shaft seals
11. Troubleshooting pumps
12. Flow control
13. Materials for flow equipment
14. Valves for sanitary processes
15. Single-seat valves
16. Mix-proof valves
17. Regulating valves
18. Troubleshooting valves
19. Valve automation
20. Standards and regulations