How Centrifugal Pumps Work

Different types of centrifugal pumps are classified for use for different purposes. One type moves wastewater. Another is used for petrochemicals.

No one would fault you for not having put much thought behind how water is moved from point A to point B in your home, office, school, or any other building. You just flush the toilet or turn on the faucet, and voilà! You have running, forceful water at your disposal.

centrifugal pump with parts labeled
Centrifugal pumps play a significant role in our daily lives.

Have you ever really thought about what happens when you flush the toilet? Might not be the most pleasant thought, but knowing how wastewater is dealt with might give you a greater appreciation for this infrastructure—especially considering not all places on Earth have it.

One type that is particularly important is the centrifugal pump. They play an important role in our daily lives through their predominant use in wastewater management and disposal operations.

How It Works

While the detailed operations of its multiple types can make understanding its workings is quite difficult, the basic functionality begins when fluid enters near the rotating impeller and is accelerated outward into a diffuser chamber, or casing. As the impeller rotates (typically powered by an engine or electric motor) and transfers its energy to the entering fluid, pressure is created within that accelerates the fluid into the casing and out into a connected piping system.


As previously mentioned, they play a pivotal role in the process of wastewater management. To that end, many sewage treatment plants and water purification centers use them as part of their operations. They are also sometimes used to move petrochemicals and petroleum. Because most of the liquids that use them are are unclean, they are sometimes referred to as “trash pumps.”

Pros and Cons

They are widely used in wastewater transfer operations due to their ability to move high volumes of fluid in an efficient manner. They are also very dependable and require little maintenance to keep up and running. Its simplistic design, ease of use, and compactness compared to others are some additional positives.

On the downside, they can sometimes suffer from cavitation, internal corrosion, and overheating. Additionally, if the fluid being moved contains a high amount of suspended solids, the impeller can become worn down fairly quickly, requiring repair or replacement.

Centrifugal pumps might not be perfect, but I’m willing to bet you would choose them over waste management techniques of the past—like tossing it out the window and onto the street!

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