Control the flow with metering pumps

Accuracy is critical when using controlled-volume metering pumps.

By Hydraulic Institute PD Pump Members

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In brief:

  • Steady-state accuracy, repeatability and linearity are of great value in dosing pump applications.
  • Accuracy is a critical element of controlled-volume metering pumps and is achieved through capacity control and pump head arrangements. Stepper motors eliminate the need for stroke length control.
  • Controlled-volume metering pumps can achieve discharge pressures to 50,000 psig and capacities from 10 milliliters per hour to 5,000 gallons per hour.

This is the conclusion of a series of articles based on Hydraulic Institute’s comprehensive e-learning course, “Positive Displacement Pumps: Fundamentals, Design and Applications.”

During the past 75 years, there has been more technological advancement related to metering pumps than any other type. Almost all of this development has been more focused on producing a controlled limitation of flow than it has on improvements in flow inducement. As true controlled-volume metering pumps entered the 21st Century, this minor branch of the pump family tree will rely on a new platform for continued advances. Electronics and robotics have provided a significant improvement in the pump’s self-contained flow management resulting in automatic capacity correction that’s available and will be further enhanced in the future.

Robert Sheen invented the first pump that began this branch of the pump family tree. The core of his invention was a method of controlling volumetric flow that was actually part of the pump itself. It wasn’t dependent on a bypass valve after the discharge or pump speed changes by replacing belts and pulleys or even motors. It wasn’t dependent on changing pump size to limit the amount of chemical dosed to a specific application of boiler feed chemicals or cooling tower chemicals and not dependent upon the operator diluting the chemicals to match the application rate available from the pump. His invention was a means, inherent to the pump, to control the pump’s true output while maintaining consistent, repeatable volumetric flow accuracy over time. This reduced the amount of time spent on performance monitoring. It provided those involved with the chemical-feed industry a labor-saving device.

From this original controlled-volume pump, the terms “metering pump” and “dosing pump” have evolved as popular synonyms. It’s important to recognize that accuracy is a critical, value-added element of controlled-volume metering pumps. Different technologies are used for capacity control and different pump head arrangements have evolved to fill the broad spectrum of applications in which dosing pumps can be found globally.

Controlled-volume pumps are available in numerous versions and styles, having entered the market during the past seven decades. The configuration variety is primarily the result of the many industries with specific needs for sustainable accuracy in chemical dosing. Accuracy on three levels has become the primary benefit of this pump type in the delivery of additives to automated processes, as well as those with the simple mission of maintaining accurate constant flow. Metering pumps fill essentially this same set of process-critical needs in every industrial niche.

Controlled-volume metering pumps are used in a wide range of applications and environments. Process pressures can range from atmospheric pressure to 50,000 psig (3,500 Bar). Pump capacities per head vary from 10 ml/hr to 5,000 gal/hr. Several types of metering pumps have evolved to best suit each application to meet this range. Drives, control methods and liquid-end combinations have been designed to handle the full scope of applications (Figure 1).

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