Phenomena

Pump Problems

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Pumps are a critical piece of infrastructure, but to keep them operating, engineers have to account for several potential pitfalls. In this Practical Engineering video, Grady discusses some of the common fluid dynamical effects that can destroy a pump and its performance. As you’ll see in the video, a lot of the challenges boil down to keeping air out of the pump. Since air and water are vastly different in their density and compressibility, most pumps cannot handle both of them at the same time. Pumps need to be primed to displace any air inside them and allow them to develop the suction needed to pump water. On the other hand, too much suction can create cavitation, which damages pump parts. And, finally, the intake systems for pumps have to be designed to keep air from getting sucked in. If nothing else, having too much air in the lines reduces the pump’s efficiency. (Image and video credit: Practical Engineering)

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