Basics Explained – What Is a Slurry Pump and How Is It Used?
If you’ve ever stepped foot in a manufacturing plant or been around a mine, then you’ve witnessed first-hand how complex and intimidating industrial equipment can be. That said, it doesn’t take a genius to understand what these machines do, how they work, and why they’re so important.
Notably, slurry pumps are some of the most commonly used machines across various industries. They have a wide range of applications, from construction and power to food and beverage processing. This dedicated guide will walk you through everything you need to know about what a slurry pump is, how it’s used, and its industrial applications, along with a few tips on how to select one.
In industrial processing and manufacturing, the slurry is any mixture composed of fluid and solid particles where the liquid serves as a vehicle to transport the solid. Examples of slurries include cement, starch, manure, and other common abrasive compounds. The size of the particles, which can range from microscopic to several centimeters in diameter, is what determines how easily a pump can move slurry through an entire process line without creating blockages.
Basically, slurry behaves just like thick and viscous fluid and falls under either one of two categories; non-settling and settling slurry. A non-settling slurry is made of finer solid particles. While they appear to have greater viscosity, non-settling slurries have low wearing properties. By contrast, settling slurries contain coarse particles and have a tendency to form unstable mixtures. Given the given particle size, they have higher wear properties and require more power to be transported when compared to pure liquids.
Let’s briefly go over the different components that make up a standard industrial slurry pump:
- Motor – These are typically either hydraulic or electric. They provide the energy to power the pump and allow the machine to operate.
- Impeller – This is the pump’s rotating component, which helps transfer the centrifugal force. It can be either closed, open, semi-open, or recessed.
- Casing – Usually made of cast iron or other special alloys to secure the pump’s internal components with high pressure.
- Shaft and bearing assembly – The shaft serves to convey the motor’s rotatory motion from to the impeller.
- Shaft sleeve – Made of resistant materials, its role is to protect the shaft.
- Seals package – Lip, mechanical or hybrid seals prevent the slurry from leaking into the motor and bearings.
- Wear plates – Fixed over and below the impeller, they ensure the pump’s efficiency.
- Strainer – Stops large particles from entering and blocking the impeller.
- Agitator – Thanks to a high-pressure flow of liquid, the agitator picks up sediments and puts solids in suspension.
With their highly calibrated and solid construction, slurry pumps operate according to a simple principle based on centrifugal force. The operation goes as follows:
First, the mixture is poured into the pump through a rotating impeller, making the thick liquid swirl in a circular motion. Then, the slurry is pushed outwards to the edges thanks to centrifugal force and begins to travel between the impeller’s blades (also known as vanes) where it spins around and picks up speed. Market-leading information found at DAE Pumps clarifies that this high-speed energy turns into pressure inside of the casing, therefore allowing the machine to generate kinetic energy and pump the slurry. So, whether you’re looking to acquire an industrial slurry pump or simply want to survey the market for a future purchase, some online research will point you towards plenty of useful resources.
Not all slurry pumps are designed with the same technical specifications, characteristics, or intended uses. To give you the big picture, here are the four most common types of slurry pumps currently on the market:
- Horizontal Slurry Pumps – The pump shaft is positioned parallel to the horizontal plane. With wear-resistant and high-strength materials, this type of pump is used in mining, metallurgy, electric power, and in other industries that handle highly abrasive slurry.
- Vertical Slurry Pumps – The pump shaft is positioned perpendicular to the horizontal plane. This type of pump is suitable for conveying high-concentration and corrosive slurry.
- Submerged Slurry Pumps – These feature a semi-open impeller and no bearings between the casing and the impeller. They’re used in municipal engineering, cement plants, paper mills, printing and dyeing plants, and other industries.
- Submersible Slurry Pumps – Features coaxial integration of the motor and pump, with the motor protected by a mechanical seal and submerged in the slurry. This efficient type is ideal for pumping abrasive compounds like sand and is used in numerous industries.
As we’ve seen so far, slurry pumps are used to pump liquids charged with particles and transport them through industrial processing lines. The size of the particle affects how the medium is transported. Now, in terms of day-to-day industrial applications, these machines carry concentrators in metallurgy, remove ashes in thermal power plants, or transport slurry and minerals in coal washing plants. Slurry pumps can also be useful in sand washing and river and dredging, along with manufacturing fertilizers, pulp and paper, chemical compounds, and other recycling endeavors.
If you’re looking to get into the mining or manufacturing industry, you’ll naturally want a slurry pump that fits your needs. With all the models and infinite combinations of specifications out there on the market, selecting a pump is no easy affair. Depending on the line of work and the consistency of the slurry, some options may be better than others. It’s important to keep in mind that a high-efficiency machine will handle wear and tear, meaning that a few extra hundred dollars on the price could spell the difference between years of operation and the early onset of mechanical failure.
To sum up, slurry pumps are highly versatile machines that are used for a wide range of industrial and manufacturing purposes. They effectively boost pressure, pump slurry in manufacturing and coal plants, supply water, and much more. Not only are they easy to maintain and operate, but most slurry pumps are also designed for robustness to withstand wear and tear. In case you’re looking to equip your future plant or factory, be sure to conduct ample research and ask experts about the best kind of pumps you can get your hands on.
Thank you for reading!