Achieving Efficiency in High-Pressure Pumping

High-pressure pumping applications such as chemical, petrochemical, pipeline transfer service, water injection and polyethylene terephthalic acid (PTA) reactor feeds  need an API-compliant centrifugal pump that can handle flow rates of 300-1,500 gallons per minute (gpm) and heads up to 15,000 feet (4,572 meters).

 

Why You Need Peak Efficiency

In these high-pressure applications, reliable performance is everything. If you lose pressure or develop leaks, it can be catastrophic to your operation. You need a way to extend your maintenance intervals, prevent problems and reduce the total cost of ownership in any way you can. Pumps need to run at peak efficiency around the clock in most operations, so there can’t be any unplanned downtime. One lost day of production will generally exceed the cost of the pump itself.

 

Pump Selection and Configuration

It starts with selecting the right pump. You must size the pump properly at the outset. This can be done using advanced analytics and computer-controlled hydraulics to achieve the best efficiency point (BEP). This results in maximum efficiency and reduced end-of-curve horsepower.

 

One solution is to use a two-stage pump that utilizes a speed-increasing gearbox. This can replace up to 12 stages, which will offer a major reduction in material costs. Smaller drives can also be used to deliver the necessary output without wasting energy. You always have to monitor pump performance and re-rate the pumps as needed to keep the pump running reliably and efficiently. Ideally, you want to be running between 70 and 100 percent of BEP. Any more or less will cause problems such as cavitation, seal failures, bearing damage, shaft deflection, motor overloads and high vibration.

 

Is it Time for an Upgrade?

Many operations are using older pumps that have stood the test of time, but may not be running at peak efficiency or require a lot of extra maintenance time. Short of buying a newer, more efficient pump, you can look at making some strategic upgrades and refinements to achieve better efficiency with your high-pressure centrifugal pump system.

 

Here are 7 upgrades to consider:

 

  1. Gearbox Seal – Reduce any leakage of gearbox oil and prevent process fluid from entering the gearbox with modern gearbox seal designs.
  2. Process Seals – Today’s new materials and design advancements can vastly improve process seal performance and durability.
  3. Process Seal Rotating Face – Consider a “soft-mount” design to replace your old hard-mount equipment for a more stable sealing surface. This will allow the rotating face to better handle significant fluctuations in temperature and pressure.
  4. Inboard and Outboard Bearings – Change out the inboard bearings (motor side) and the outboard bearings (pump side) with newer bearings that provide increased rotor stability and offer a wider operating range.
  5. Seal Housing – Modify or upgrade your seal housing to accommodate a new rotating face and improve fluid flow. This will improve your seal life overall.
  6. Shaft Sleeves – Use shaft sleeves that are designed to specifically complement the new seals and faces noted above. Today’s shaft sleeves are machined to extremely tight tolerances for the most demanding chemical applications.
  7. Instrumentation – Last but not least, upgrade your instrumentation and monitoring system to more effectively track and control vibration, temperature and pressure fluctuations.

 

For more information about high-pressure centrifugal pump systems for your chemical operation, contact Cortech Engineering. Whether you are looking to upgrade or find a whole new system to achieve optimum efficiency, we’ve got you covered with the information and guidance you need. Reach out to us and let us know how we can help!

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