How Centrifugal Pumps Work

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

No one would fault you for not having put much thought behind how water is pumped 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.

There are many different types of pumps that are used for various purposes. 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.

Pump It Up

One type of pump that is particularly important is the centrifugal pump. Centrifugal pumps play an important role in our daily lives through their predominant use in wastewater management and disposal operations. With that in mind, here is all you probably ever wanted to know about centrifugal pumps.

How Centrifugal Pumps Work

While the detailed operations of the multiple, highly-specific centrifugal pump types can make understanding the inner-workings of the pump quite difficult, the basic functionality of a centrifugal pump begins when fluid enters near the rotating pump impeller and is accelerated outward into a diffuser chamber, or pump 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 the pump that accelerates the fluid into the pump casing and out into a connected piping system.

Uses of Centrifugal Pumps

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

Pros and Cons of Centrifugal Pumps

Centrifugal pumps 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. The simplistic design of the centrifugal pump, ease of use, and compactness compared to other fluid pumps are some additional positives. On the downside, centrifugal pumps can sometimes suffer from cavitation, internal corrosion, and overheating. Additionally, if the fluid being pumped 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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