Trend Report: Pumps & Compressors

Modular System Designs Pose a Challenge for Component Suppliers

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Smart Data provides an opportunity to generate business models which in the past were not feasible. Manufacturers have been selling hardware, but what they are really selling is conveyance of the medium. Customers could conceivably pay for conveyance of a medium from A to B without actually investing in the hardware. It is up to the manufacturer to design a material flow process which is as efficient as possible. This approach generates additional value-add for conventional solutions.

In the future, rotating equipment suppliers will offer products that have a higher service ratio. KSB has set up a dedicated Business Innovation Lab task force to explore the opportunities. 15-20 internal and external employees have been organized into four teams. Their task is to develop services based on technical customer data as well as to identify and expand services available on Internet platforms such as additive manufacturing (3D printing) for spare parts.

News from the Analogue World

Hybrid technologies are currently being hyped by the automotive industry. The combination of electric motors and internal combustion engines appears to be a good transition technology. Hybrid solutions are also a talking point in the pump industry. TPS series single-stage pumps made by GEA Hilge combine the conventional impeller of a non-self-priming centrifugal pump with an upstream screw rotor stage (inducer). This hybrid technology makes the pump self-priming. It is particularly suitable as a CIP return pump and for conveying media which contain gas, and it is a low-cost alternative to side channel pumps.

The Egger TEO vortex pump with hybrid impeller combines the advantages of a semi-open impeller with that of a Turo vortex impeller. The pump is ideal for conveying media with a high gas content (up to 10 %) and large diameter solids.

Hybrid compressors combine the advantages of piston machines and membrane machines. They are particularly effective at very high pressures (1,500 bar and more) for compressing technical gases and gas mixtures without oil lubrication in applications which require high availability. Hybrid compressors are a safe investment in the future to ensure compliance with the expected environmental regulations. To exploit the strengths of both compression technologies, it seams reasonable to combine them in the same housing. Because the compression principle is the same, combing the two does not create thermodynamic problems. The process components which need to be installed between the stages (e.g. coolers, vessels, separators) do not create different requirements for the two compression principles. Using piston compressor stages for low-pressure compression and membrane stages for high-pressure compression is the ideal choice for unlubricated high-pressure compression of gases, according to Neumann & Esser (NEA Group).

The temperatures should be as high as possible to maximize heat storage efficiency. Up until now, no technology has been available to do that, but researchers have recently developed a pump based on ceramic materials. The seals are made of graphite which also withstands high temperatures. The prototype pump worked with molten tin and temperatures up to 1,400 °C for around 72 h. $ 3.6 million in funding was provided by ARPA-E, the research agency of the US Department of Energy for highly ambitious projects. In the journal Nature, the researchers reported that the pump could be used to develop reliable storage systems for the electricity grid to make energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar available as cheaply and easily as energy from natural gas power stations.

No doubt about it, production of pumps for high-temperature applications requires very well coordinated material selection, product design and intelligent systems technology. It is however well worth the effort. Solar power is a clean, renewable energy source which has great potential, claims pump manufacturer Sulzer. Worldwide energy demand continues to rise, but conventional energy sources are being depleted and their impact on the environment is causing increasing concern.