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Making viscous product handling more cost-efficient

18 July 2016

A recent whitepaper looks at the energy saving benefits associated with using sine pump technology for viscous product handling applications. Suzanne Gill reports. 

The whitepaper puts forward the argument that sine pumps can deliver significant user benefits when compared with other pumping technologies, such as lobe pumps and circumferential piston pumps.

A single sinusoidal rotor creates four evenly size chambers as it rotates. Fluid is pulled through the inlet into each chamber in turn. As the chamber rotates, it closes, and then discharges fluid through the outlet port. At the same time, the opposite chamber opens to draw in more fluid, resulting in a smooth flow with virtually no pulsation. A gate functions as a seal between the inlet and outlet sides of the pump, preventing pressure equalisation and stopping fluid escaping from the higher pressure outlet to the low pressure inlet. 

The chambers are moved as a whole, so their volume does not change during the pumping process and the product is not subject to any significant mechanical load. As a result, product is moved gently from the inlet to the outlet. 

Food companies today are always on the lookout for energy efficient processing solutions – a trend that is being driven by more stringent environmental regulations and the need to reduce carbon footprint, as well as the need to reduce production costs.

According to the British Pump Manufacturers Association (BPMA), pumps account for around 10% of the world’s electricity consumption, and two-thirds of pumps use up to 60% more power than is necessary. A recent survey by the Food and Drink Federation of 100 decision makers at UK food and beverage plants also found that 75% said that coping with rising energy bills has affected their decision to expand their business, so finding more energy efficient solutions could offer a variety of benefits – for the environment and the enterprise.
 
Food processors often need to handle a variety of products with different viscosities – from mayonnaise to meat – and most pumping technologies will be affected by the viscosity of the product being pumped. Typically the torque, and therefore the power, required to drive a pump will increase in line with viscosity, resulting in a need for electrical motors. Larger motors, however, draw more power, even when not operating at capacity.

On an industrial site, an average of two-thirds of the total electricity costs will be spent running electric motors. Furthermore, energy represents 95% of the life cycle cost of a pump, so the opportunities for savings are substantial.

Utilising less energy hungry pump technologies offers a good opportunity to cut energy costs relating to bulk handling applications – for example swapping traditionally-used lobe pumps for sine pumps.

Sine pumps are not affected by viscosity in the same way that lobe pumps are and they require lower torque to drive them which allows for the use of smaller motors.

A more economical solution
The sinusoidal rotor on a Masosine Pump produces powerful suction with low shear, low pulsation and gentle handling without the need for high power drives. The benefits are said to increase in line with product viscosity as the rotor design enables handling of a range of viscosities – from 1 cP to 8 million cP – without modification to the pump and with minimal effect on power requirements, leading to energy savings.

If a food plant needs to handle a variety of products, with different viscosities, the impact on a sine pump will be minimal. For example, using the same application parameters as before, but switching from a 20,000 cP product to a 200,000 cP product, the viscous horse power (VHP) of a sine pump will increase by around 0.1, to 0.3 VHP (0.22 kW).

Such a shift is possible at beverage plants handling concentrates, for example. Here, there can be a marked difference in viscosity between product at ambient temperature and product at cold temperature. This is especially true if the temperature drops below 0°C, at which point viscosity will make a step increase. In certain applications this could even happen across a single batch or shift.

By contrast, when using a lobe pump, VHP will more than double to 12 hp (9 kW). Furthermore, while the net inlet pressure requirement/net positive suction head requirement (NIPR/NPSHR) for a sine pump increases to around 0.7 bar, for the lobe pump the NIPR/NPSHR escalates to 7 bar – around 10 times more – to avoid cavitation. In short, to continue using lobe pump technology would require going up several pump sizes to a 150mm port size model which is more costly and will consume more energy.  

The whitepaper offers several examples which demonstrate the energy cost saving potential of sine pumps in the food sector. One dairy product manufacturer, for example, needed to feed different kinds of concentrates from milk (1200cP) at flow rates of up to 12,000l/hr at pressures of up to 10 bar. Utilising two sine process pumps required just 4.6kW of power, whereas a competitor pump needed 11kW. With the pumps running 24 hours a day, five or six days a week, this offered significant energy savings.

A copy of the original whitepaper - Analysis of sine pump technology’s ability to add value and energy cost reductions ?in high viscosity applications – can be downloaded from  http://www.watson-marlow.com/us-en/wmftg/product/mee-whitepaper/


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