High viscosity fluids pose a unique pumping challenge for operations in dozens of industries worldwide. When these fluids constantly cause pump malfunctions, downtime, and high maintenance costs, it can be easy to get discouraged and frustrated. The good news is that there is a solution to pumping high viscosity fluids thanks to the unique science behind our pumps, which are specifically designed for the job.
Let’s take a look at exactly why high viscosity fluids are so difficult to pump.
Why Are High Viscosity Fluids Difficult to Pump?
Viscosity defines a fluid’s resistance to change shape and its opposition to flow. Essentially, fluids with a high viscosity are thicker, heavier, resistant to flow and, thus, difficult to pump. Viscosity also has a direct relationship with shear sensitivity. Shear sensitive fluids easily emulsify, or break into small particles, which can negatively affect the product being pumped. For example, when a highly shear sensitive fluid, like crude oil, is pumped together with water, the liquids are susceptible to emulsification. Separating these emulsions can be difficult, costly, and time consuming
Aside from shear sensitivity, high viscosity fluids tend to be thick and heavy, which poses another challenge for pumps. To pump these thick fluids successfully, a pump needs to be able to handle large amounts of entrained air, since the thicker the fluid, the more likely it is to entrap air. Ideally, a pump handling highly viscous material will have a low minimum stable continuous flow and Net Positive Suction Head - Required (NPSH-R).
The unique challenges of pumping highly viscous fluids call for a unique solution, like Discflo disc pumps. Our pumps are specifically designed for tough pumping jobs like this, and the unique technology behind our pumps make them extremely successful across many applications and industries.
Why Are Discflo Disc Pumps Ideal for Pumping High Viscosity Fluids?
Discflo disc pumps operate on the unique principles of laminar flow, viscous drag, and boundary layer which allows them to effectively, smoothly pump highly viscous materials when other pumps fail.
When fluid is moving, it either follows a turbulent flow or a laminar flow. During turbulent flow, the fluid has an erratic pattern and mixes together. When it follows a laminar flow, the pipe exerts a “drag” force on the fluid, causing the liquid at the center of the pipe to have a higher velocity than the outer liquid, which is essentially being slowed by the drag force of the pipe.
Our pumps use laminar flow and increase the liquid’s velocity using our patented Discpac technology that transfers energy into the boundary layer. As energy passes into the boundary layer, the liquid’s velocity around the outside of the pipe increases beyond that of the inner liquid. Our parallel, rotating Discpacs combine the power of the boundary layer and viscous drag to create a smooth, pulsation-free laminar flow, even with highly viscous materials.
Another benefit to our superior pump design is how well it can handle delicate materials. Our disc pumps do not use a harsh impeller to generate energy. Thus, rather than violently pushing fluid through the pump, our design creates a gentle pull, making them excellent for shear sensitive fluids.
This also results in a low minimum continuous stable flow and a Net Positive Suction Head - Required (NPSH-R) that is one-third of competitors’. Discflo disc pumps can also handle large amounts of solids and up to 25% air in the line.
Below, we have outlined a few examples of why disc pumps excel at pumping difficult materials.
Disc Pumps and Abrasive Fluids
Abrasive fluids usually contain high levels of solids. When these abrasive solids come into contact with a pump, they cause wear. In disc pumps, the fluid moves parallel to the rotating discs. This allows for virtually no impingement between the pumpage and the discs, meaning that there is very little wear over the years. This is one reason why Discpacs rarely need replacement or maintenance and Discflo’s disc pumps operate for decades.
When it comes to abrasive fluids, disc pumps are suitable for use in:
- Chemical, oil, and petrochemical processing, specifically to pump crystal slurries, debenzonized tar, oil, and sand slurry.
- Pulp and paper manufacturing, specifically to pump black liquor soap, paper coatings, and fly ash.
- Wastewater treatment and disposal applications, specifically to pump lime sludge, sand slurry, and carbon black slurry.
- Food and sanitary process, specifically to pump sugar slurries, oyster shell slurry, and chicken processing waste.
- Mining, environmental cleanup, and other applications using borax, diatomaceous earth, steel slag, and drilling mud.
Disc Pumps and Fluids With High Solids
Disc pumps can handle liquids with up to 80% non-homogenized and non-absorbent solids, which would clog traditional pipes. These solids tend to fall out of the liquid. Thanks to our patented Discpacs and viscous drag technology, the solids fall into the point of lowest velocity. This allows the liquid to continue its smooth, laminar flow without clogs. Disc pumps are an excellent choice for pumping fluids containing high solids.
How Can Disc Pumps Change Your Operation?
The science behind Discflo disc pumps make pumping high viscosity, difficult-to-pump liquids easy while increasing efficiency. Using our patented technology, our engineers design our pumps to improve your operational efficiency, reduce your maintenance needs, and decrease your downtime.
For example, when a Florida municipality approached us because they needed to pump sludge with a highly abrasive solids content up to 80%. We installed our pumps in 1993, and to date they are still working hard. That’s 30 years! Our pumps undergo routine maintenance checks and rarely need repair, typically showing almost no signs of wear.
That is just one example of how Discflo disc pumps can fundamentally change an operation by lowering maintenance costs, decreasing downtime, and improving operational efficiency. With Discflo, even the hardest pumping jobs are simplified.
Want to learn exactly how a Discflo pump can improve your operation? Contact our team below.