Explainer A Beginner’s Guide to Barrel Pumps

What are Barrel Pumps?

These are containers that are designed to enable easy transference of chemical fluids from other one holding area to another. Barrel pumps are sometimes referred to as drum pumps or vertically immersed pumps. Drum pumps come in various shapes, sizes and designs with a view of catering for the different needs of persons/industries that deal with chemical fluids. To move liquids from one container to another, barrel pumps can be operated manually using hand-operated levers, plungers or levers.

How Do Drum Pumps Work?

Industries that deal with chemicals and reagents typically use drum pumps that have a capacity of 100 litres – 200 litres to safely move liquids to where they are needed. Since these liquids cannot be transferred normally in a safe manner, barrel pumps usually allow for the safe transference of these liquids.

To allow safe transference of corrosive fluids, drum pumps usually have a motor and pump for pumping the liquids stored within out as well as an immersion tube.The immersion tube is usually long and it usually fits through an opening typically found at the top of the container before being sealed to prevent leaks. To cater for different pump depths as well as varying viscosity of fluid that may need to be pumped, immersion pipes typically come in varying lengths and diameters. The motor mechanism of the barrel pump usually sits atop the immersion tube on the outside part of the barrel. On the other hand, the pump is usually located at the lower end of the tube to be immersed in the container. The pumping mechanism is usually turned on from the top part of the tube using an extended tube part that is covered and protected using a sealed column. Once the pump is turned on, the fluid in the container usually flows between the immersion tube and the sealed sleeve before being dumped out through a discharge port that is located close to the motor pump.

Drum pumps that are used to discharge fluids that are not too thick usually rely on centrifugal pumps that are fitted with single, double or triple impellers. Once the pump is turned on, the turning of the impellers usually pushes the fluid being pumped out through an opening found near the top of the immersion tube.

Drum pumps designed to pump out fluids of a medium thickness (up to 20,000cP) typically tend to use positive displacement pumps and PTEF screw-type lifting compressors. These pumps are typically used to transfer fluids such as food beverages, paints, solvents and inks. Barrel pumps that are designed to pump out fluids that have a high viscosity (up to 100,000cP) typically tend to use pumps that have a cavity-like design. These types of pumps are typically used in the transfer of fluids such as bath and hair gel, corn syrup, gear lube, adhesives, waxes, glycerine, polymers, honey, juice concentrate, oils, resin and solvents. In the market you can find pumps that are made of materials that are tested and proven FDA-compliant for the type of fluid you are seeking to pump.

Main Features of a Drum Pump

On a barrel pump, you will find several parts that will either be in contact with the outer tube as well as the fluid being pumped. The parts that are to be in contact with the fluid being pumped should be non-corrosive. If the fluid being pumped is flammable, the material in question should be non-flammable and further, they should be safe to use at the temperature of the fluid being pumped. Pump tubes and other barrel pump components are usually typically made from materials such as polyethylene, pure propylene, 316-stainless steel, CPVC and PVDF.

Most barrel pump manufacturers usually tend to provide different interchangeable pumps as well as immersion pipes of varying lengths so that the drum pumps can be customised to suit different operating environments and uses. In most cases, a drum pump can be removed and fitted to another pump. Pumps can easily be changed where the pump is being used while other parts can replaced individually. In cases where there is no electricity, an air powered motor can be fitted and used. The ideal tube length to be used is usually determined by the depth of the barrel pump. For example, if you have a 200-litre (45 gallons) you can use an immersion tube that is 100cm in length. For a barrel that can hold between 15-30 gallons, you can use an immersion tube that is shorter in length.