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0262 !762/07 2007 Llsevier Lld.

All righls reserved 7/2,$ PUmPS April 2007 J0

Iechnical definitions associated
with pumps - part one
Nuch confusion exists because English, the world's technical language, is used mostly by
engineers who speak/write English as a second language. Definitions of some important
technical terms have become distorted and this leads to confusion in important
communications. ln the first of a series of articles, pump consultant Brian Nesbitt
explains common terms used in connection with pump application and pump design.
am really lucky' l learnt
Ln,lisl as my first lan,ua,e
anJ my back,rounJ las always
been en,ineerin,. Ln,lisl is a
terrible lan,ua,e to learn because
it incluJes many worJs tlat lave
nearly tle same meanin,. Lefore l
starteJ formal en,ineerin, trainin,
l alreaJy laJ a broaJ knowleJ,e of
,eneral meclanical en,ineerin,. My
firstlanJ experience witl pumps
las slown me tlat communications
can be very Jifficult wlen customers
anJ suppliers Jescribe tle same
tlin, by Jifferent terms. Wlen
writin, multinational stanJarJs,
it is preferreJ to a,ree tle Ln,lisl
version first. lt is mucl easier
for en,ineers to translate from
Ln,lisl ratler tlan into Ln,lisl.
Tle lan,ua,e problem exists even
witl funJamental concepts tlat
are essential to unJerstanJ wlen
Jescribin, pump applications
anJ writin, specifications. anJ
purclase orJers.
Lefore we can consiJer pumps (tle
main concern lere) we must start
at a mucl earlier point because tle
funJamentals of plysical properties are
re,ularly incorrectly JescribeJ. Lefore
we can Jiscuss maclines, we must
tlink about 'matter'; wlat everytlin,
is maJe of. Matter is not only wlat
pumps are maJe of, but wlat pumps
'pump' as well. Matter exists in several
plysical varieties (atomic varieties
Jon't necessarily concern us lere) anJ
pumps lanJle most of tlem.
Tle 'colJ' state of matter; a state
of fixeJ volume anJ fixeJ slape.
'lixeJ' is possibly too ri,iJ a term
lere. ConsiJer rubber anJ many
elastomers; tle slape can be clan,eJ
quite easily by tle application of
small forces. but wlen tle forces
are releaseJ tle soliJ returns to its
ori,inal slape. sometimes. SoliJs
can be elastic or plastic; elastic
soliJs return to tle ori,inal size/
slape after Jeformation, plastic
soliJs remaineJ JeformeJ. Volume
can be moJifieJ; reJuceJ by tle
application of 3D forces (pressure),
or increaseJ by leatin,. SoliJs are
very variable anJ tle Jifference in
plysical properties can be crucially
important; woulJ a pump maJe of
,olJ be better tlan a pump of cast
iron` lt woulJ be mucl more costly
anJ mucl more corrosion resistant,
but woulJ it work in practice`
lumpin, sanJ is very Jifferent to
pumpin, coal' Lut beware' Natural
proJucts suffer lu,e variations in
properties; experience from one site
may not be transferable'
1he |undamen|a|: o|
phy:|ca| proper||e: are
reu|ar|y |ncorrec||y

lf a soliJ is leateJ, tle freezin, point
is reacleJ anJ tlen tle soliJ becomes
liquiJ. Not all soliJs lave a stable
liquiJ plase. Cenerally, liquiJ can be
consiJereJ as lavin, a fixeJ volume
witl a variable slape. Tle volume can
be reJuceJ, usually only very sli,ltly,
by tle application of pressure anJ
increaseJ by leatin,. Some liquiJs,
like water, clan,e slape very easily
anJ flow reaJily - low viscosity.
tlers, like leavy oil, Jon't clan,e
slape quickly anJ Jon't flow as easily
- li,l viscosity. LiquiJs like water are
Newtonian; viscosity is inJepenJent
of tle rate of slear, Jecreases witl
increasin, temperature anJ is sli,ltly
influenceJ by pressure. Some liquiJs
are 'slear-sensitive' or 'pseuJo-plastic',
Jon't flow easily anJ can be Jama,eJ
by tle pumpin, action. lumps for tlese
liquiJs must be selecteJ carefully.
F EAT UR E pump del i ni l i ons
Figure 1. A heavy-duIy cehIri!ugal pump !or cleah liquid applicaIiohs.
lf a liquiJ is leateJ, eventually it will
boil to proJuce vapour. Vapour is a
,as-like state in tlat tle volume anJ
slape clan,e easily. A vapour can
expanJ to fill a container, but if tle
container is too bi,, a proportion of
tle vapour will conJense back into
liquiJ. SaturateJ vapour is a mixture
of vapour anJ liquiJ Jroplets
anJ occurs wlen vapour coexists
above boilin, liquiJ. Vapour is a
'complicateJ' ,as anJ may not obey
tle normal ,as laws.
A state of matter, aclieveJ by leatin,
beyonJ tle Jry vapour plase to a
temperature li,ler tlan tle critical
temperature, in wlicl tle molecules
move ranJomly to fill tle volume
available. A ,as cannot be converteJ
to liquiJ by increasin, tle pressure.
Tle volume of a ,as clan,es easily
to accommoJate clan,es in tle
confinin, volume. Tle pressure anJ
temperature of an iJeal or perfect
,as can be calculateJ by usin, tle
claracteristic equation anJ Loyle's
anJ Clarles' Laws. lJeal ,as properties
can be converteJ to real ,as properties
by incluJin, compressibility factors in
tle claracteristic equation (see box
over tle pa,e).
A ,aseous state of matter aclieveJ
by leatin, ,as to very li,l
temperatures causin, ionization.
llasmas contain positive anJ
ne,ative clar,es in approximately
equal numbers. Tley are ,ooJ
conJuctors of electricity anJ are
affecteJ by ma,netic fielJs. llasmas
are claracterizeJ by tleir ability to
rapiJly clan,e slape anJ tle almost
total absence of tensile stren,tl or
viscosity. Like a ,as, a plasma will
expanJ to fill tle volume available
but, unusually, can be separateJ from
containment surfaces by ma,netic
fielJs. llasmas can be compresseJ by
ma,netic fielJs witlout usin, soliJ
surfaces. llasmas Jon't occur in tle
avera,e inJustrial pump application,
wlereas all tle otler states
frequently occur simultaneously.
Fluid miscohcepIiohs
You may lave noticeJ tlat one very
popular teclnical term las not been
mentioneJ: 'fluiJ'. lluiJ is not one
of tle states of matter; it Jescribes a
,roup of states plus mixtures of states.
lluiJ is JeriveJ from 'fluiJity', tle
ability to flow, anJ tle slape of fluiJs
is JetermineJ by tle containment.
lluiJ broaJly incluJes liquiJs,
F EAT UR E pump del i ni l i ons
Iable 1. Properties of matter
SIaIe Solid Liquid Vapour Cas Plasma
Chahge o! sIaIe
wiIh pressure
No (pracIically) Yes Yes No No
Shape AlmosI !ixed Variable Variable Variable Variable
Volume AlmosI !ixed SlighIly variable Variable Variable Variable
DehsiIy High Io low High Io low Low Low Low
Very high Io low AbouI zero Zero Zero Zero
FluidiIy AbouI zero Variable Very high Very high Very high
CompressibiliIy Very low Io low Low Io medium High High High
Yes No (*) No No No
Yes No (*) No No No
Yes No No No No
(*) Cah apply Io some mixed maIIer hahdled by pumps.
vapours, ,ases anJ plasmas plus
mixtures of soliJs in liquiJ/vapour/
,as/plasma. lluiJ is not a specific
term, it is a ,eneralization' lluiJ
las insiJiously workeJ its way into
tle Ln,lisl lan,ua,e. Wlen you're
unwell anJ visit your Joctor, le may
,ive you some tablets anJ instruct
you 'to take plenty of fluiJs'. He is
incorrect anJ in error. He means
'Jrink plenty of liquiJs'; tlis is not
tle same. We are all continuously
surrounJeJ by fluiJs tlat are lar,ely
outsiJe our control. We ,enerally
can't control atmospleric air or low
we 'take' it. lf your Joctor was really
worrieJ about 'fluiJs' le woulJ ,ive
you oxy,en anJ an oxy,en mask. We
coulJ all stop usin, tle term 'fluiJ'
anJ benefit from improveJ, more
accurate communications. lluiJ anJ
liquiJ are not interclan,eable. Lse
'fluiJ' at your own risk'
||u|d |: no| a
:pec|||c |erm, || |: a
enera||za||on... u:e ||
a| your own r|:|!

You may see aJverts or specifications
for software tlat may be useJ for
system analysis utilizin, perfect
fluiJs. lerfect fluiJs may lave
zero viscosity, be incompressible,
lomo,eneous anJ pure. Some
software las a limiteJ consiJeration
of mass. As perfect fluiJs Jon't
exist in tle real worlJ, tlis type
of software is of limiteJ practical
value. Don't make important
Jecisions baseJ on tle output from
sucl software; you can't afforJ tle
insurance claims'
'LiquiJ' is not always tle most
appropriate term to use in
connection witl some pump
applications. lma,ine slovellin, a
pile of mixeJ matter into a lopper
tlat Jirects tle mass into a screw
conveyor, wlicl feeJs a 'pump'.
lumps (not necessarily pumps in
,eneral) can lanJle or cope witl a
vast ran,e of mixeJ matter, but tle
precise nature of tle mass must be
JescribeJ prior to purclasin, tle
'pump'. Tle pump may not work
reliably or efficiently or safely if
mixeJ matter is applieJ to a 'water'
pump. Lseful alternative terms to
'liquiJ' incluJe 'pumpeJ meJium'
anJ 'proJuct'. Tle Luropean
StanJarJs Autlority, CLN, lave
coineJ a new term, 'a,rifooJstuff ',
wlicl is applieJ to any material
for luman/animal consumption.
lemember' Tle onus is on tle
purclaser/user to accurately Jescribe
wlat tle pump is ,oin, to lanJle.
Tlin,s not JescribeJ are not covereJ
by ,uarantees anJ warranties.
Pumg termnologg
At tlis point, l can introJuce
sometlin, you may lave expecteJ
to see sooner.
A Jevice or macline useJ to increase
tle ener,y level of a liquiJ.
Tle term 'liquiJ' is useJ
intentionally lere because pumps
are Jesi,neJ specifically to lanJle
pure, Newtonian liquiJs - unless
tle manufacturer's specification
states otlerwise. lemember, a pump
will be testeJ witl pure, clean, colJ
liquiJ, or tap water (of wlicl more
later), unless a special test proceJure
is invokeJ. lumps for mixeJ matter
applications are best trialleJ at site...
if suitable accurate instrumentation
is available.
Tle term 'pump' applies to tle
macline itself, usually limiteJ by its
terminal points: inlet connection,
outlet connection, Jrive slaft, anJ
F EAT UR E pump del i ni l i ons
Figure 2. A cehIri!ugal pump speci!ically !or
hahdlihg liquid-solid mixIures.
sometimes connections to seals.
Some pumps are inte,ral witl tle
Jriver anJ tle Jriver may lave
terminal points.
Pump uhiI
A pump, witl power transmission
anJ Jriver, mounteJ on a baseplate/
skiJ/trailer. Tle 'unit' incluJes any
mounteJ auxiliary equipment.
A Jevice or macline useJ to increase
tle ener,y level of ,ases or vapours.
Compressors ,enerally expect ,ases/
vapours to be clean anJ free from
soliJs or liquiJ Jroplets. LnexpecteJ
inclusions may reJuce performance,
reliability anJ safety.
|| we need |he |u|ure
|o be re||ab|e and
enery e|||c|en|, we a||
need |o u:e |echn|ca|
|n||:h w||h c|ar||y and

Ambgutes &
Tle followin, are compressors:
inflator, air pump, bicycle pump,
ion pump, vacuum pump. 'Air
pump' mi,lt be useJ as slortlanJ
for 'air-operateJ pump'; cleck tle
context. 'loot pump' is completely
meanin,less; wlo wants to pump
feet` 'HanJ pump' is slortlanJ
for 'lanJ-operateJ pump'. 'Larrel
pump' las two popular meanin,s: a
small pump for emptyin, barrels, or
a bi,,er, mucl more costly, multi-
sta,e centrifu,al pump tlat mi,lt
also be JescribeJ as a raJially split
pump. 'Steam pump' is ambi,uous;
it is slortlanJ for 'steam-operateJ
pump' but it is too va,ue to be
Tle 'leat pump' is a special case; it
is not a Jevice or a macline, it's a
system' lt's a system tlat incluJes a
compressor to move refri,erant ,as.
Tle term 'pump' las become very
mucl misuseJ. Tlis is because
'compressor' is a new worJ' lt JiJ
not enter tle Ln,lisl en,ineerin,
teclnical lan,ua,e, as we use it
toJay, until tle 188Os, lon, after tle
start of tle lnJustrial levolution.
'Cryo,enic pump' is an imprecise
name anJ can only be unJerstooJ,
witl clarity, by reviewin, tle
context. lt mi,lt be a vacuum pump
(compressor) or it mi,lt be a pump
for lanJlin, very colJ liquiJs. Tlis
is a case for carefully stuJyin, tle
'Meclanical pump' is a very ambi,uous
term anJ sloulJ not be useJ. 'lnJuction
pump' is a term JefineJ, by people
outsiJe tle pump inJustry, as any
pump tlat relies on electroma,netic
inJuction; tlis is obviously not a
useful, practical Jefinition. A LASLl
pump is an electronic Jevice not useJ
for lanJlin, liquiJs. A Jata pump is, l
tlink, a piece of software useJ for Jata
minin, in Jatabases`
Tle worlJ of pumps is lu,e anJ very
broaJ. Witlout pumps, life as we
know it woulJ come to an enJ. lf we
neeJ tle future to be reliable anJ
ener,y efficient, we all neeJ to use
teclnical Ln,lisl witl clarity anJ
precision. N
8riah NesbiII is ah ihdepehdehI
cohsulIahI specializihg ih posiIive
displacemehI pumps. He has beeh
ihvolved wiIh pumps ahd pumpihg
sysIems sihce 1974. A member o!
Ihe 8SI MCL/6 commiIIees, 8riah
represehIs Ihe UK oh CLN ahd ISO PD
pump commiIIees.
I! you would like 8riah Io review
or ihclude a de!ihiIioh ih !uIure
arIicles, he cah be cohIacIed aI:
F EAT UR E pump del i ni l i ons