Maximator Far East

Jul 10, 2024

Air at Work: An Overview of How Pneumatic Pumps Work

pneumatic pumps
When working with pneumatic pumps, we literally mean there is ‘air at work.’ A pneumatic pump transfers fluids, chemicals, or solutions from one location to another using compressed air. It works like this: pneumatic pumps rely on compressed air to act as a muscle, pushing fluids from one place to another. They are typically used in industries such as oil and gas, wastewater treatment, and more, where pumping viscous and caustic fluids is needed.  While there’s more to learn about these instruments, here’s a quick and simple overview of what they are, their types, and how they work. Delve into their applications and uses to gain better insights into their importance in such industries.

What is a Pneumatic Pump?

In a more technical definition, pneumatic pumps are positive displacement pumps that use compressed or pressurised air to actuate the movement of the pump’s piston. They are more versatile, cost-efficient, and can be a safer alternative to gas or electric-powered motors.

What is a Pneumatic Pump?

In a more technical definition, pneumatic pumps are positive displacement pumps that use compressed or pressurised air to actuate the movement of the pump’s piston. They are more versatile, cost-efficient, and can be a safer alternative to gas or electric-powered motors.

Types of Pneumatic Pumps

Pneumatic Liquid Pumps

  • Pneumatic liquid pumps are used and designed to transfer liquids from one place to another.

Pneumatic Piston Pumps

  • Pneumatic piston pumps can operate at high pressures with a consistent flow rate. They can handle diverse fluids and greases, ranging from low-viscosity to extremely thick substances. Engineered for durability, these pumps exhibit resilience against abrasion and corrosion. Furthermore, these pumps are self-priming, eliminating the necessity for supplementary filling or priming actions as they can autonomously draw fluid into the system.

Pneumatic Refrigerant Pumps

  • Pneumatic refrigerant pumps are a specific type of pump designed for refrigerant applications. They typically have a two-stage design and are used for transferring refrigerants.

Pneumatic Diaphragm Pumps

  • Also called an air-powered diaphragm pump (AODD), a pneumatic diaphragm pump uses a special valve to push compressed air back and forth between two chambers inside the pump. 
  • It can transport liquids with suspended solids and those with low to high viscosities. Additionally, if your industry works with harsh chemicals, this type of pump can also handle them. 

How does a Pneumatic Pump Work?

Principle of Operation

At its core, pneumatic pumps operate by relying on pressurized gas or air to move diverse materials. They are valuable tools in the industrial setting, tapping into the power of compressed air or inert gases to efficiently move fluids for various applications.  Delving deeper into the pump’s mechanism and how it works, pneumatic pumps may employ a single or dual-piston design For dual-piston, one piston is comparatively smaller in diameter than the other. A sealed chamber separates both pistons and is filled with either liquid or compressed gas. The compressed gas pushing on the larger piston creates pressure within the sealed chamber filled with liquid or gas. This pressure, in turn, acts on the smaller piston, amplifying the force significantly and resulting in powerful mechanical action.

Basic Components

Four essential components characterise regular pneumatic pumps: 
  • Air Compressor. Compressed air is regular air pushed at a smaller volume, increasing pressure. Think of it like vehicle titres–the more air you squeeze in, the harder it gets. The air compressor is the backbone of pneumatic pumps, for it is responsible for producing compressed air that powers or fuels the pump. 

  • Piston or Diaphragm. Now that pneumatic pumps have the compressed air that powers their heart of operations, they need something to handle the movement of displacing fluids–here’s where the piston or diaphragm steps in. 
  • Valves. Fluid movement is up and running, but it needs a material to control its direction. Valves help pneumatic pumps do so and ensure that the fluid they transfer travels in the right direction. 
  • Body. The pneumatic pump’s body shelters the components, which allows them to fulfil their function. It is typically made from stainless steel, engineering and fluorine plastics, cast steel, nodular cast iron, and aluminium alloy. It houses internal components responsible for fluid transfer and fluid inlet and outlet ports.

Air Compression

Air compressors perform the compression process that powers the pump.  They do this by pulling in air at an inlet valve.  Once inside, they squeeze the air to a smaller size, increasing its pressure. This high-pressure air is released through an outlet valve and stored in a tank. There are two air compressor categories: positive displacement and dynamic. Positive displacement compressors work as if they ‘grab’ the air and physically compress the space to increase pressure. Meanwhile, dynamic compressors increase air pressure by taking regular air and speeding it up, then converting that high velocity into pressure.

Piston Action

The primary characteristic of pneumatic piston pumps is that they perform at high pressure, and their operating principle is comparable to that of a syringe. Its mechanism revolves around increasing pressure to suck in and transfer fluids with varying viscosities.  They work in two phases, such as fluid suction in a container, drum, tank, etc., followed by a discharge.

Fluid Displacement

The back-and-forth movement of the piston or diaphragm generates a pressure difference within the pump, drawing fluid through the fluid inlet port and into the pump chamber. Afterwards, the fluid is then discharged from the pump chamber through the fluid outlet port. The cyclical process of fluid intake and discharge persists as long as the compressed air source remains operational. This uninterrupted cycle facilitates a continuous stream of fluid to be conveyed through the pump.

Pressure Regulation

One can rely on pneumatic pressure regulators for pressure regulation of compressed air entering the pump.  They maintain a constant output pressure regardless of fluctuations in the input pressure or output flow. They achieve this by incorporating all the necessary components for loading, sensing, actuation, and control.

Valve Operation

A pneumatic valve controls air and fluid flow, ensuring unidirectional movement and efficient operation. To put it simply, inside the pump, tiny gates (valves) control the movement of the fluid. These valves ensure the fluid flows the right way (like a traffic light on the road) and stop it from flowing backwards, keeping things running smoothly.

Applications and Uses

pneumatic pumps

Pneumatic pumps best fit the following fields and applications: 

  • Food and beverage industry to process fluids and liquid ingredients
  • Chemical processing field to transport fluids and chemicals in industrial chemical processes
  • Pharmaceuticals for transferring pharmaceutical solutions
  • Automotive industry for suspension and braking
  • Oil and gas industry for drilling operations, pipeline maintenance, and hydrostatic testing on valves and pipelines
  • Wastewater treatment to move liquids during the treatment process. 

Pneumatic pumps are a more durable, low-maintenance, reliable, and safer choice for industries

Pneumatic pumps are highly valuable for industries due to their reliability, simplicity, and safe operation. These benefits allow companies to achieve efficiency, especially in fluid-handling activities. 

If you’re considering integrating pneumatic pumps into your operations, Maximator pumps offer the optimal combination of efficiency and reliability. Contact us!

Maximator Far East is an internationally leading company specialising in high pressure technologies. Our team develops high-quality products for different industry uses and applications, especially in hydraulics, equipment, high pressure testing and pneumatics. 

We offer a wide variety of high pressure solutions; Pneumatic (Air-driven) Liquid Pumps and Gas Boosters, Compressors,  Valves, Fittings, and Tubing, High Pressure Hoses, Pressure Gauges, Chart Recorders, Customised Liquid and Gas Test Bay Systems, and Preventive Maintenance and Repair Services.

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