A reciprocating pump is a positive-displacement pump. The design allows for liquid or gas to be trapped in a chamber, which is then expelled when a piston within the chamber pushes the liquid or gas outward. A traditional windmill is a classic example of a reciprocating pump design.
Here are the pros and cons of a reciprocating pump to consider.
List of the Pros of a Reciprocating Pump
1. It creates high pressures from low-flow situations.
A reciprocating pump draws fluid or gas into its chamber through a small opening. It then releases that fluid or gas when the liquid or gas is compressed by a piston. That creates a high-pressure released from a low-flow situation.
2. It is a proven technology.
Reciprocating pumps are one of the oldest designs still being used. Pumps of this type have been designed to perform with up to 3,000 horsepower.
3. It is a durable technology.
Reciprocating pumps work with highly corrosive or abrasive materials. Because a pump can be made with everything from ceramics to carbide, this technology is used in applications that range from air transfers to pumping cement.
4. It is an efficient technology.
A well-designed reciprocating pump often operates above 90% efficiency, even though it is one of the most affordable options of its type.
List of the Cons of a Reciprocating Pump
1. It has a short half-life.
Reciprocating pumps require a lot of maintenance to continue functioning properly. Most pumps of this type require at least one full rebuild over 15 years of use, with careful maintenance occurring at all times to make it last that long. Rebuilds are not costly, though they can be time-intensive.
2. It creates pulsations.
The piston movement which moves liquids or gas creates a pulsation within the inlet and outlet of the pump. Even if there are multiple pump chambers incorporated into the design of the pump, these pulsations cannot be completely eliminated. If the pulsations are severe, damage to surrounding systems may occur.
3. It may damage itself.
The movement of the pistons can be violent enough, in normal operations, to cause the pump to damage itself over time. To counter this issue, most reciprocating pumps require a damper of some type.
These reciprocating pump pros and cons show that this proven technology is effective and affordable. It also requires a lot of attention to be successful.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.