Operation

Pumps are generally selected for a given capacity and total head when operating at rated speed. These characteristics are referred to as "rated conditions of service" and, with few exceptions, represent those conditions at or near which the pump will operate the greatest part of the time. Positive displacement pumps cannot operate at any greater flows than rated except by increasing their speed, nor can they operate at lower flows except by reducing their operating speed or bypassing some of the flow back to the source of supply. (See Section 3.5.)

On the other hand, centrifugal pumps can operate over a wide range of capacities, from near zero flow to well beyond the rated capacity. Because a centrifugal pump will always operate at the intersection of its head-capacity and system-head curves, the pump operating capacity may be altered either by throttling the pump discharge (hence altering the system-head curve) or by varying the pump speed (changing the pump head-capacity curve). This makes the centrifugal pump very flexible in a wide range of services and applications that require the pump to operate at capacities and heads differing considerably from the rated conditions. There are, however, some limitations imposed upon such operation by hydraulic, mechanical, or thermodynamic considerations (Subsection 2.3.1).

Operation of Centrifugal Pumps at Reduced Flows There are certain minimum operating flows that must be imposed on centrifugal pumps for either hydraulic or mechanical reasons. Four limiting factors must be considered: radial thrust, temperature rise, internal recirculation, and shape of the brake horsepower curve.

Radial thrust is discussed in Subsections 2.2.1 and 2.3.1. For sustained operation, it is imperative to adhere to the minimum flow limits recommended by the pump manufacturer, which depend on the specific design of the pump casing and impeller.

The thermodynamic problem that arises when a centrifugal pump is operated at extremely reduced flows is caused by the heating up of the liquid handled. The difference between the brake horsepower consumed and the water horsepower developed represents the power losses in the pump, except for a small amount lost in the pump bearings. These power losses are converted to heat and transferred to the liquid passing through the pump.

If the pump were to operate against a completely closed valve, the power losses would be equal to the shutoff brake horsepower, and because there would be no flow through the pump, all this power would go into heating the small quantity of liquid contained in the pump casing. The pump casing would heat up, and a certain amount of heat would be dissipated by radiation and convection to the atmosphere. However, because the temperature rise in the liquid pumped could be quite rapid, it is generally safer to ignore the dissipation of heat through radiation and the absorption of heat by the casing. Calculations for determining the temperature rise in the pumped liquid are given in Subsection 2.3.1. The maximum permissible temperature rise in a centrifugal pump varies over a wide range, depending on the type of service and installation. For hot-water pumps, as on boiler-feed service, it is generally advisable to limit the temperature rise to about 15°F (8°C). As a general rule, the minimum permissible flow to hold the temperature rise in boiler-feed pumps to this value is 30 gpm for each 100 bhp (9.13 m3/h per 100 kW) at shutoff. When the pump handles cold water, the temperature rise may be permitted to reach 50 or even 100°F (28 or 56°C). The minimum capacity based on thermodynamic considerations is then established as the capacity at which the temperature rise is the maximum permitted. Means and controls used to provide the necessary minimum flows are described in Subsection 2.3.4.

There are also hydraulic considerations that may affect the minimum flow at which a centrifugal pump can operate. In recent years, correlation has been developed between operation at low flows and the appearance of hydraulic pulsations both in the suction and in the discharge of centrifugal impellers. It has been proved that these pulsations are caused by the development of an internal recirculation at the inlet and discharge of an impeller at certain flows below the best-efficiency capacity. This subject is treated in Subsections 2.3.1 and 2.3.2. The pump manufacturer's recommendations on minimum flows dictated by these considerations must be followed.

Priming With very few exceptions, no centrifugal pump should ever be started until it is fully primed; that is, until it has been filled with the liquid pumped and all the air contained in the pump has been allowed to escape. The exceptions involve self-priming pumps and some special large-capacity, low-head, and low-speed installations where it is not practical to prime the pump prior to starting; the priming takes place almost simultaneously with the starting in these cases. For further details, see Section 2.4.

Reciprocating pumps of the piston or plunger type are in principle self-priming. However, if quick starting is required, priming connections should be piped to a supply above the pump.

Positive displacement pumps of the rotating type, such as rotary or screw pumps, have clearances that allow the liquid in the pump to drain back to the suction. When pumping low-viscosity liquids, the pump may completely dry out when it is idle. In such cases a foot valve may be used to help keep the pump primed. Alternately, a vacuum device may be used to prime the pump. When handling liquids of higher viscosity, foot valves are usually not required because liquid is retained in the clearances and acts as a seal when the pump is restarted. However, before the initial start of a rotating positive displacement pump, some of the liquid to be pumped should be introduced through the discharge side of the pump to wet the rotating element.

The various methods and arrangements used for priming pumps are described in Section 2.4.

Final Checks Before Start-Up A few final checks are recommended before a pump is placed into service for its initial start. For pumps with journal bearings, the bearing covers should be removed, and the bearings should be flushed and thoroughly cleaned. They should then be filled with new lubricant in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.

With the coupling disconnected, the driver should be tested again for correct direction of rotation. Generally an arrow on the pump casing indicates the correct rotation.

It must be possible to rotate the rotor of a centrifugal pump by hand, and in the case of a pump handling hot liquids, the rotor must be free to rotate with the pump cold or hot. If the rotor is bound or even drags slightly, do not operate the pump until the cause of the trouble is determined or corrected.

Starting and Stopping Procedures The steps necessary to start a centrifugal pump depend upon its type and upon the service on which it is installed. For example, standby pumps are generally held ready for immediate starting. The suction and discharge gate valves are held open, and reverse flow through the pump is prevented by the check valve in the discharge line.

The methods followed in starting are greatly influenced by the shape of the power-capacity curve of the pump. High- and medium-head pumps (low and medium specific speeds) have power curves that rise from zero flow to the normal capacity condition. Such pumps should be started against a closed discharge valve to reduce the starting load on the driver. A check valve is equivalent to a closed valve for this purpose, as long as another pump is already on the line. The check valve will not lift until the pump being started comes up to a speed sufficient to generate a head high enough to lift the check valve from its seat. If a pump is started with a closed discharge valve, the recirculation bypass line must be open to prevent overheating.

Low-head pumps (high specific speed) of the mixed-flow and propeller type have power curves that rise sharply with a reduction in capacity; they should be started with the discharge valve wide open against a check valve, if required, to prevent backflow.

Assuming that the pump in question is motor-driven, that its shutoff power does not exceed the safe motor power, and that it is to be started against a closed gate valve, the starting procedure is as follows:

1. Prime the pump, opening the suction valve, closing the drains, and so on, to prepare the pump for operation.

2. Open the valve in the cooling supply to the bearings, where applicable.

3. Open the valve in the cooling supply if the seal chambers are liquid-cooled.

4. Open the valve in the sealing liquid supply if the pump is so fitted.

5. Open the warm-up valve of a pump handling hot liquids if the pump is not normally kept at operating temperature. When the pump is warmed up, close the valve.

6. Open the valve in the recirculating line if the pump should not be operated against dead shutoff.

7. Start the motor.

8. Open the discharge valve slowly.

9. For pumps equipped with mechanical seals, check for seal leakage: there should be none.

10. For pump with shelf packing, observe the leakage from the stuffing boxes and adjust the sealing liquid valve for proper flow to ensure the lubrication of the packing. If the packing is new, do not tighten up on the gland immediately, but let the packing run in before reducing the leakage through the stuffing boxes.

11. Check the general mechanical operation of the pump and motor.

12. Close the valve in the recirculating line when there is sufficient flow through the pump to prevent overheating.

If the pump is to be started against a closed check valve with the discharge gate valve open, the steps are the same, except that the discharge gate valve is opened some time before the motor is started.

In certain cases, cooling to the bearings and flush liquid to the mechanical seals or to the packing seal cages is provided by the pump. This, of course, eliminates the need for the steps listed for the cooling and sealing supply.

Just as in starting a pump, the stopping procedure depends upon the type and service of the pump. Generally, the steps followed to stop a pump that can operate against a closed gate valve are

1. Open the valve in the recirculating line.

2. Close the gate valve.

3. Stop the motor.

4. Open the warm-up valve if the pump is to be kept at operating temperature.

5. Close the valve in the cooling supply to the bearings and seal chambers.

6. If the sealing liquid supply is not required while the pump is idle, close the valve in this supply line.

7. Close the suction valve, open the drain valves, and so on, as required by the particular installation or if the pump is to be opened up for inspection.

If the pump is of a type that does not permit operation against a closed gate valve, steps 2 and 3 are reversed.

In general, the starting and stopping of steam-turbine-driven pumps require the same steps and sequence prescribed for a motor-driven pump. As a rule, steam turbines have various drains and seals that must be opened or closed before and after operation. Similarly, many turbines require warming up before starting. Finally, some turbines require turning gear operation if they are kept on the line ready to start up. The operator should therefore follow the steps outlined by the turbine manufacturer in starting and stopping the turbine.

Most of the steps listed for starting and stopping centrifugal pumps are equally applicable to positive displacement pumps. There are, however, two notable exceptions:

1. Never operate a positive displacement pump against a closed discharge. If the gate valve on the discharge must be closed, always start the pump with the recirculation bypass valve open.

2. Always open the steam cylinder drain cocks of a steam reciprocating pump before starting, to allow condensate to escape and to prevent damage to the cylinder heads.

Auxiliary Services on Standby Pumps Standby pumps are frequently started up from a remote location, and several methods of operation are available for the auxiliary services, such as the cooling supply to bearings or seal chambers:

1. A constant flow may be kept through jackets or oil coolers and through stuffing box lantern rings or seal chambers whether the pump is running or on standby service.

2. The service connections may be opened automatically whenever the pump is started up.

3. The service connections may be kept closed while the pump is idle, and the operator may be instructed to open them shortly after the pump has been put on the line automatically.

The choice among these methods must be dictated by the specific circumstances surrounding each case. There are, however, certain cases where sealing liquid supply to the pump seal chambers must be maintained whether the pump is running or not. This is the case when the pump handles a liquid that is corrosive or that may crystallize and deposit on the sealing components. It is also the case when the sealing supply is used to prevent air infiltration into a pump when it is operating under a vacuum.

Restarting Motor-Driven Pumps After Power Failure Assuming that power failure will not cause the pump to go into reverse rotation; that is, that a check valve will protect the pump against reverse flow, there is generally no reason why the pump should not be permitted to restart after current has been re-established. Whether the pump will start again automatically when power is restored will depend on the type of motor control used. (Subsection 2.3.1 and Section 8.1 give reasons why some pumps should not be started in reverse.)

Because pumps operating on a suction lift may lose their prime during the time that power is off, it is preferable to use starters with low load protection for such installations to prevent an automatic restart. This does not apply, of course, if the pumps are automatically primed or if some protection device is incorporated so the pump cannot run unless it is primed.

Survival Treasure

Survival Treasure

This is a collection of 3 guides all about survival. Within this collection you find the following titles: Outdoor Survival Skills, Survival Basics and The Wilderness Survival Guide.

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