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A centrifugal pump is a rotodynamic pump that uses a rotating impeller to create flow by the addition of energy to a fluid. Centrifugal pumps are commonly used to move liquids through piping. The fluid enters the pump impeller along or near to the rotating axis and is accelerated by the impeller, flowing radially outward into a diffuser or volute chamber (casing), from where it exits into the downstream piping. Centrifugal pumps are used for large discharge through smaller heads.
According to Reti, the Brazilian soldier and historian of science, the first machine that could be characterized as a centrifugal pump was a mud lifting machine which appeared as early as 1475 in a treatise by the Italian Renaissance engineer Francesco di Giorgio Martini. True centrifugal pumps were not developed until the late 17th century, when Denis Papin made one with straight vanes. The curved vane was introduced by British inventor John Appold in 1851.
The overwhelming majority of contractor pumps use centrifugal force to move water. Centrifugal force is defined as the action that causes something, in this case water, to move away from its center of rotation.
All centrifugal pumps use an impeller and volute to create the partial vacuum and discharge pressure necessary to move water through the casing. The impeller and volute form the heart of the pump and help determine its flow, pressure and solid handling capability.
An impeller is a rotating disk with a set of vanes coupled to the engine/motor shaft that produces centrifugal force within the pump casing. A volute is the stationary housing (in which the impeller rotates) that collects, discharges and re-circulates water entering the pump.
A diffuser is used on high pressure pumps and is similar to a volute but more compact in design. Many types of material can be used in their manufacture but cast iron is most commonly used for construction applications.
In order for a centrifugal pump, or self priming, pump to attain its initial prime the casing must first be manually primed or filled with water. Afterwards, unless it is run dry or drained, a sufficient amount of water should remain in the pump to ensure quick priming the next time it is needed.
A centrifugal pump converts the input power to kinetic energy in the liquid by accelerating the liquid by a revolving device - an impeller. The most common type is the volute pump. Fluid enters the pump through the eye of the impeller which rotates at high speed. The fluid is accelerated radially outward from the pump chasing. A vacuum is created at the impellers eye that continuously draws more fluid into the pump.The energy created by the pump is kinetic energy according the Bernoulli Equation. The energy transferred to the liquid corresponds to the velocity at the edge or vane tip of the impeller. The faster the impeller revolves or the bigger the impeller is, the higher will the velocity of the liquid energy transferred to the liquid be. This is described by the Affinity Laws.
Most centrifugal pumps are not self-priming. In other words, the pump casing must be filled with liquid before the pump is started, or the pump will not be able to function. If the pump casing becomes filled with vapors or gases, the pump impeller becomes gas-bound and incapable of pumping. To ensure that a centrifugal pump remains primed and does not become gas-bound, most centrifugal pumps are located below the level of the source from which the pump is to take its suction. The same effect can be gained by supplying liquid to the pump suction under pressure supplied by another pump placed in the suction line.