Centrifugal Pump

on . Posted in Pump

A centrifugal pump is a type of mechanical pump that uses a rotating impeller to impart centrifugal force to the fluid, thereby increasing its kinetic energy and facilitating the movement of the fluid from the pump's inlet to its outlet.  Centrifugal pumps are widely used for various applications, particularly in industries such as water supply, wastewater treatment, chemical processing, and HVAC systems.

Centrifugal Pump Index

Centrifugal Pump Types

Centrifugal pumps come in various types, each designed for specific applications, fluid properties, and operational requirements.

  • Single-Stage Centrifugal Pump  -  Single-stage centrifugal pumps have one impeller and are typically used for low pressure, high flow rate applications.
  • Multi-Stage Centrifugal Pump  -  Multi-stage centrifugal pumps have multiple impellers arranged in series.  They are suitable for applications where higher pressures are required, such as in boiler feedwater systems.
  • Horizontal Split Case Centrifugal Pump  -  In this pump, the casing is split horizontally, allowing for easy access to the internal components.  These pumps are often used in applications requiring high flow rates and moderate to high pressures.
  • Vertical In-Line Centrifugal Pump  -  Vertical in-line pumps have a compact design with the pump and motor aligned in a single casing.  They are commonly used in HVAC systems and water supply applications.
  • End-Suction Centrifugal Pump  -  End suction pumps have a single inlet and are widely used for various applications, including water supply, irrigation, and industrial processes.
  • Overhung Impeller Centrifugal Pump  -  In overhung impeller pumps, the impeller is mounted on the end of the pump shaft and extends over the pump's bearings.  These pumps are often used in applications with moderate pressure requirements.
  • Close-Coupled Centrifugal Pump  -  Close coupled pumps have the impeller mounted directly on the motor shaft, eliminating the need for a separate coupling.  They are compact and commonly used in applications where space is limited.
  • Submersible Centrifugal Pump  -  Submersible pumps are designed to be submerged in the fluid they are pumping.  They are commonly used for applications such as drainage, sewage pumping, and groundwater extraction.
  • Self-Priming Centrifugal Pump  -  Self-priming pumps have the ability to evacuate air from the suction line, allowing them to start pumping without the need for external priming.  They are useful in applications where the pump may experience intermittent suction conditions.
  • Axial Flow Centrifugal Pump  -  Axial flow pumps have an impeller that generates fluid flow parallel to the pump shaft.  They are often used in applications where a high flow rate is required with relatively low head.
  • Radial Flow Centrifugal Pump  -  Radial flow pumps have an impeller that generates fluid flow perpendicular to the pump shaft.  They are versatile and can be used in a variety of applications.

The selection of a centrifugal pump type depends on factors such as the specific application, flow rate, head, fluid properties, and space constraints.  Different types of centrifugal pumps are optimized for various conditions to ensure efficient and reliable operation.


Centrifugal Pump Advantages and Disadvantages


Centrifugal pumps have many advantages over other types of pumps.

  • Steady flow (No pulsation)
  • Supplies the head (pressure) required by the system
  • Excellent rangeability and controllability with a VFD or throttling valve
  • Can handle most liquids with some solids
  • Can be operated with totally blocked flow or shut off temporarily without damaging the pump.
  • Standard design means parts are usually readily available
  • Very reliable
  • Limited to low to moderate viscosity fluids
  • Not to be used for oil water emulsion as this pump exerts shear forces on the fluid and may tighten the emulsion.
  • Developed head is limited.
  • Must be primed prior to start up (non self priming)
  • Pumps are sensitive to NPSH
  • Fluids with entrained gas may risk cavitation. (Always check vapor pressure when doing the NPSH calculation)


Centrifugal pump Characteristics

Centrifugal pumps are widely used in various industries for fluid transport, and they exhibit several key characteristics that make them suitable for different applications.

  • Continuous Flow  -  Centrifugal pumps provide a continuous and steady flow of fluid.  Unlike positive displacement pumps, they don't deliver a fixed volume per revolution; instead, they rely on the impeller's spinning motion to create a flow.
  • High Flow Rates  -  Centrifugal pumps are capable of handling large volumes of fluid, making them suitable for applications where high flow rates are required.
  • Variable Flow and Head  -  The flow rate and head (pressure) in a centrifugal pump can be adjusted by changing the impeller diameter, speed, or by throttling the discharge valve.  This flexibility allows for a wide range of operational conditions.
  • Low to Moderate Pressure Applications  -  While centrifugal pumps can generate high flow rates, they are generally better suited for low to moderate pressure applications.  For very high pressure applications, multistage centrifugal pumps or other pump types may be more appropriate.
  • Simple Design  -  Centrifugal pumps have a relatively simple design, consisting of a casing, impeller, and sometimes a few other components.  This simplicity contributes to their ease of maintenance and reliability.
  • Wide Range of Sizes  -  Centrifugal pumps are available in a wide range of sizes, from small, portable units to large industrial pumps.  This versatility makes them suitable for various applications across different industries.
  • Low Maintenance  -  Centrifugal pumps generally have fewer moving parts compared to some other types of pumps, leading to lower maintenance requirements and costs.
  • Inlet Priming Required  -  Unlike some positive displacement pumps, centrifugal pumps require the pump casing to be filled with fluid before they start.  This process is called priming and is necessary for the pump to operate efficiently.
  • Not Suitable for Viscous Fluids  -  Centrifugal pumps are less effective with highly viscous fluids, as these fluids can reduce pump efficiency and cause issues with the impeller.
  • Limited Self Priming Capability  -  While some centrifugal pumps are designed to be self-priming, their self priming capability is generally more limited compared to positive displacement pumps.  External priming may still be required in some situations.
  • Can Handle Abrasive Particles  -  Depending on the design, centrifugal pumps can handle fluids containing small amounts of solids or abrasive particles.  However, excessive solids may lead to wear and reduced pump efficiency.
  • Energy Efficiency  -  Centrifugal pumps are known for their energy efficiency, especially when operating at or near their best efficiency point (BEP).  Proper sizing and operation are essential to maximize efficiency.

Understanding these characteristics is crucial when selecting a centrifugal pump for a specific application.  Factors such as the type of fluid, flow rates, pressure requirements, and the nature of the system will influence the choice of a centrifugal pump and its operational parameters.

Centrifugal pump Applications

Centrifugal pumps are widely used in various industries for fluid transport due to their efficiency, versatility, and ability to handle a wide range of flow rates.

  • Water Supply and Distribution  -  Centrifugal pumps are extensively used in municipal water supply systems for the distribution of potable water.  They are also employed in industrial facilities for water supply and circulation.
  • Wastewater Treatment  -  Centrifugal pumps play a crucial role in wastewater treatment plants, where they are used for pumping sewage and treated water at different stages of the treatment process.
  • Agriculture and Irrigation  -  Centrifugal pumps are used in agricultural irrigation systems to lift water from wells or other water sources and distribute it to fields for crop irrigation.
  • HVAC Systems  -  Centrifugal pumps are commonly used in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to circulate water or other fluids for temperature control in buildings and industrial facilities.
  • Chemical Processing  -  Centrifugal pumps are used in the chemical industry for transferring various chemicals within processing plants. Specialized materials and designs are employed to handle corrosive or abrasive fluids.
  • Oil and Gas Industry  -  Centrifugal pumps are utilized in the oil and gas sector for applications such as crude oil transfer, refined product transport, and pipeline circulation.  Multistage centrifugal pumps are often used for high pressure oilfield injection.
  • Power Generation  -  Centrifugal pumps are used in power plants for applications such as circulating cooling water, boiler feedwater, and condensate extraction.
  • Mining Operations  -  Centrifugal pumps are employed in mining for tasks such as slurry transport, dewatering, and water circulation in mineral processing operations.
  • Food and Beverage Industry  -  Centrifugal pumps are used in the food and beverage sector for tasks like transferring liquids, handling ingredients, and pumping product through processing stages.  Hygienic designs are crucial in these applications.
  • Petrochemical Industry  -  Centrifugal pumps are utilized in the transfer and circulation of various petrochemical products, including fuels, solvents, and intermediates.
  • Marine Applications  -  Centrifugal pumps are used in ships for tasks such as bilge pumping, ballast transfer, and fire protection systems.
  • Construction Industry  -  Centrifugal pumps are employed in construction applications for tasks such as dewatering excavation sites, pumping water from construction pits, and handling construction water supply.
  • Pharmaceutical Industry  -  Centrifugal pumps are used in pharmaceutical manufacturing for applications such as transferring liquids, blending, and filtration processes.
  • Paper and Pulp Industry  -  Centrifugal pumps are utilized for transporting pulp, paper stock, and various chemicals in paper manufacturing processes.
  • Automotive Industry  -  Centrifugal pumps are used in automotive cooling systems to circulate coolant through the engine and radiator for temperature control.
  • Fire Protection Systems  -  Centrifugal pumps are integral components of fire protection systems, providing the necessary pressure to supply water for firefighting.

These examples highlight the broad range of applications for centrifugal pumps across different industries.  The specific type of centrifugal pump, its design features, and materials of construction are chosen based on the requirements of each application.


  • API Standards
    • ANSI/API Std 610  -  Centrifugal Pumps for Petroleum, Petrochemical and Natural Gas Industries
    • API Std 685  -  Sealless Centrifugal Pumps for Petroleum, Petrochemical, and Gas Industry Process Service
    • API Std 674  -  Positive Displacement Pumps - Reciprocating
    • API Std 675  -  Positive Displacement Pumps - Controlled Volume for Petroleum, Chemical, and Gas Industry Services
    • API Std 676  -  Positive Displacement Pumps - Rotary
    • API Std 681  -  Liquid Ring Vacuum Pumps and Compressors for Petroleum, Chemical, and Gas Industry Services
    • API Std 682  -  Pumps - Shaft Sealing Systems for Centrifugal and Rotary Pumps
  • ASME Standards
    • ASME B16.5  -  Pipe Flanges and Flanged Fittings: NPS 1/2 through NPS 24 Metric/Inch Standard
    • ASME B73.1  -  Specification for Horizontal End Suction Centrifugal Pumps for Chemical Process
    • ASME B73.2  -  Specifications for Vertical In-Line Centrifugal Pumps for Chemical Process
    • ASME B73.3  -  Specification for Sealless Horizontal End Suction Metallic Centrifugal Pumps for Chemical Process

 Piping Designer Logo 1


Tags: Pump