Difference Between Centrifugal and Reciprocating Pump

Pumps are devices used for displacement of fluids from one place to another. There are many types of pumps out of which more popular ones are centrifugal and reciprocating pumps. Though they serve the same purpose of transportation of liquid, there are many differences in their features and working principle that will be made clear in this article.

Pumps are mainly divided into kinetic and positive displacement pumps. Difference between these two types is the way liquid is transferred. While kinetic pumps impart energy to the liquid that converts into pressure energy, positive displacement involves imparting force to the amount of liquid inside the casing. While centrifugal pump belongs to the category of kinetic pumps, reciprocating pump is a type of positive displacement pump.

How centrifugal pump works?

Centrifugal pumps employ a fast rotating impeller to provide kinetic energy to the incoming liquid. Impeller results in a centrifugal force that draws in liquid and increases kinetic energy of the liquid causing it to move out fast of the pump. This accelerated velocity gets converted into pressure head when it is discharged from the pump. Centrifugal pumps can transport high volumes of liquid at a time, but the performance of a centrifugal pump gets reduced as the pressure rises.

How reciprocating pump works?

Reciprocating pumps cause transfer of liquid through a crankshaft, eccentric cam or alternating fluid pressure acting on a piston or a plunger that has a reciprocating motion, giving the pump its name. The plunger moves back and forth through a cylinder providing pulses of pressure as it moves. The pumps are ideally suited to conditions where short burst of high pressure are required. This is why centrifugal pumps can give a high follow rate but at a low pressure. Some examples of reciprocating pumps are bicycle pumps, well pumps, and the classic hand pumps that provide water to people where there is no electricity in remote areas.

Difference Between Centrifugal and Reciprocating Pump

• While centrifugal pumps make use of fast rotating impellers, reciprocating pumps use cylinders that have back and forth moving plungers inside.

• Centrifugal pumps are better suited for liquids having high viscosity whereas reciprocating pumps are ideal for liquids having low viscosity

• Reciprocating pumps operate at low speeds of 1150 rpm, whereas centrifugal pumps operate at high rpm of 1750-3540.

• There is a problem of priming whenever there is a leakage in centrifugal pumps whereas there is no such problem in reciprocating pumps.

• Reciprocating pumps have a constant flow and head whereas centrifugal pumps have variable flow and head.