Plunger Pumps

What is a plunger pump?

A type of reciprocating positive displacement pump designed to move fluids and generate high pressures. They have many features in common with other reciprocating pumps such as diaphragm pumps and piston pumps, and they may be used in many of the same applications. They’re primarily known for being high-powered - capable of creating high pressure. However, they also produce pressure pulsations due to the reciprocating plunger.

How do they work?

Plunger pumps consist of three main parts.

  1. First, there’s the power drive. They are typically set in motion by steam, electric, or hydraulic drive mechanisms. Electric motors are the most common type of driver. The drive mechanism converts the normal rotary motion of the motor into a reciprocating motion by means of a crank shaft and connecting rod arrangement, similar to one found in a an automobile engine.
  2. Second, there’s the plunger component, which is composed of a plunger that is connected to the drive mechanism. The plunger moves back and forth inside of a cylinder. The cylinder includes packing rings to keep liquid from leaking past the plunger as it reciprocates.
  3. Third, there is the pumping chamber at the end of the cylinder, which contains an intake check valve and an outlet check valve to prevent the liquid from reversing direction as it passes through the pumping chamber. As the plunger moves away from the pumping chamber, the pumping chamber expands, which creates a vacuum that draws fluid through the intake. And as the plunger moves toward the pumping chamber, the fluid is pushed out of the pumping chamber and on to the system.

There may be more than one plunger and set of check valves within the pump. A plunger pump that has two plungers and two sets of check valves is called a duplex pump. A pump with three plungers and three sets of check valves is called a triplex pump, and one with five is called a quintiplex pump. Triplex and quintiplex version are fairly common.

Plunger pumps tend to produce high pressure pulsations due to the reciprocating motion of the plungers, and the fewer the number of plungers, the higher the pressure pulsations. Many of these systems include a pulsation dampener plumbed into the pump discharge. This is a closed tank with a diaphragm in the middle, with the volume above the diaphragm being filled with air. As the pressure pulses emanate from the pump discharge, the air cavity above the diaphragm in the expansion tank contracts and expands. This absorbs the pulsations, and significantly reduces the pressure pulsations further downstream.

Where are they used?

Because these are capable of generating high levels of pressure, and because many are sturdily built, they’re useful for moving highly viscous or heavy substances such oil. Smaller, lighter duty versions are used as pressure washers. This application usually would utilize a triplex pump.

Plunger Pump Manufacturers
AR North America (Pump Manufacturer)

A.R. North America, Inc. supplies pressure washer pumps and accessories for various applications. As a supplier to top level OEM's for plunger, diaphragm, and vacuum pumps, AR North America, Inc. product lines remain the first choice when quality matters.

Arimitsu (Pump Manufacturer)

Arimitsu offers plunger pumps for misting, industrial, pressure washing, and carwash applications. The companyís pumps offer several benefits, including compact design, lower energy consumption, low maintenance cost, higher pressure, and quiet operation. Arimitsuís plunger pumps have a flow capacity to 392 gpm and pressure ranges to 24,000 psi.

Pumptec (Pump Manufacturer)

Pumptec manufactures plunger pumps for pressurized cleaning, misting, and pest spraying applications. The companyís plunger and metering pumps can handle flows up to 4 gpm and pressure to 1200 psi. PumpTecís products are compact, durable, efficient, and compatible with most chemicals. Pumptec offers several models, including its Series 112T, 212T, 112V, 217V, 113C, 114T, 205V, 207V, 348U, 350U, and 356U pumps.† Compared to competitor products, Pumptec plunger pumps deliver up to 20% more pressure or flow for a given power input.

Wepuko PAHNKE Engineering (Pump Manufacturer)

Our†DP series of plunger pumps have a flow rate ranging from about 1 to 1,320 gal/min, pressures up to 21,755 PSI and a performance range of 7 to 2,145 hp. Custom configurations to achieve increased performance are available upon request.

Expert Advice

Though gear pumps may seem simple enough, properly sizing them can be complicated. Author suggests that it actually takes five pump curves to correctly size a gear pump.

Understanding a few key factors before buying a vertical turbine pump can prevent unnecessary maintenance costs. Author provides some advice when shopping for and installing the pumps motor, discharge head, bowl assembly, and column & lineshaft.

J. Hamilton Wright shows us some of the benefits that self-priming, centrifugal pumps can offer in industrial plants.

Read All

Industry Updates

Switch to: Expert Advice | Pump Tweets

Colfax Fluid Handling has created an online energy savings calculator for oil and gas industry pump applications, World Pumps reports. The calculator allows comparisons between centrifugal pumps and rotary positive displacement pumps in single and multiple pump applications.

ITT Goulds Pumps will celebrate the first Pump Appreciation Day (April 12) with new pump industry recognition programs.

Mass Megawatts Wind Power, Inc. announced the successful delivery and operation of a larger wind-powered, water pump system in Colorado.

Read All

Pump Tweets

Sulzer agrees to purchase Spanish pump company Hidrotecar SA. With the acquisition hopes to improve its water pump business throughout Europe, Middle East and Aftrica.

ITT Goulds Pumps announced a worldwide effort to celebrate pumps. The company has established a Pump Appreciation Day on April 10, 2012. A company press release states that various festivities will recognize people who keep pumps running.

According to a company press release, Jeff Wiemelt will assume the role of president for the Sundyne on January 1, 2012. Wiemelt previously held vice president and general manger of Sundyne Americas and Sundyne Dijon in France.

Read All