On the Rise

Pumping requirements across infrastructure sectors

The country’s industrial sector constitutes a significant chunk of the pump market with applications across power plants, chemical manufacturing and water and wastewater treatment. The government’s efforts to improve infrastructure, water supply and sanitation services across the country along with recovery in real estate construction are expected to further drive the demand and use of pumping solutions. Solar-powered irrigation systems have emerged as a promising solution for the issues of energy shortage and erratic power supply, especially in the agricultural sector, which has a high water requirement.

Power

Pumps and pumping systems are used in power plants for primary applications such as fuel oil handling and for auxiliary systems such as lubrication and cooling. On an average, a 300 MW combined cycle power plant will have more than 100 pumps. Some of the pumping systems include high pressure temperature single-stage barrel casing boiler feed pumps, horizontal booster pumps, GSG radially split barrel casing pumps, boiler feedwater pumps and concrete volute pumps.

Pumps are in general classified as centrifugal pumps (or rotodynamic pumps) and positive displacement pumps. Both centrifugal and positive displacement pumps are utilised in power generation applications. Of the two, engineers generally prefer centrifugal pumps, which use an impeller to move fluid through the application process. The velocity of the rotating impeller imparts energy to the liquid and causes a rise in pressure that is proportional to the fluid’s velocity.

Positive displacement pumps, and, in particular, the rotary variants, are less common, but can prove to be more cost effective and offer more efficient fluid handling in many applications. Instead of creating pressure, positive displacement pumps simply move liquid. Pressure is generated due to resistance to movement of the liquid downstream of the pump.

Oil and gas

Pumps are used throughout the petroleum and natural gas industry for different exploration and production processes as well as oil and gas transportation and refining applications. Typical pump applications include crude oil transfer (truck loading or transfer to pipeline), secondary recovery (well water flooding via seawater or freshwater injection, chemical injection, etc.), glycol dehydration, produced water disposal, blowout prevention, hydraulic fracturing, well servicing, amine sweetening, water cooling, fire protection, lean oil circulation, water disposal for refineries and gas plants, etc.

The entire cycle of the extraction, transportation and refining process substantiates the need for pumping equipment of the highest quality and reliability. As pumps in this industry are required to operate under extreme environmental conditions such as high temperatures and pressures or extremely low pressures and cryogenic temperatures, they must be manufactured with materials that are capable of withstanding operating conditions. Further, they must be non-reactive to any chemicals they could be exposed to. Decisions regarding the choice of material are generally driven by the prevention of oxidisation and corrosion. In the oil and gas industry, pump failure can result in a huge financial cost, and pose safety and environmental hazards, thereby making their reliability extremely important.

Water and waste management

Rising demand for better water management with the latest technologies, cost-effective methods and sustainable operations has increased the demand for pumping solutions in the sector. Over the next few years, several desalination plants that were announced earlier are likely to be developed. The demand for desalinated water has been further exacerbated by the depleting per capita availability of water, as a result of which the government has taken steps to explore alternative sources. As wastewater contains large amounts of rags, organic solids and other waste matter, its transportation is difficult. Therefore, there is a need for reliable pumping systems, as overflows and spills will result in damage to the environment and imposition of fines.

The types of pumps available for handling raw sewage have also changed considerably over the years. The pumps used include vertical turbine pumps; vertical volute pumps; multistage pumps; jet monobloc pumps; end-suction pumps; borewell, submersible motor, non-clog pumps; and horizontal non-clog end-suction pumps.

Solar pumps

There are three main solar water pumping configurations used in the country, all of which are based on solar photovoltaic technology. These are brushless direct current (DC) pumps, DC positive displacement pumps, and alternating current centrifugal pumps. Awareness programmes and subsidy schemes launched by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and state governments have resulted in the installation of over 90,000 solar pumps across the country as of October 31, 2016.

The MNRE is expecting to achieve a target of 1 million solar pumps by 2020-21. To achieve this, each state needs to identify the target for solar pump deployment on the basis of factors such as water resource availability, pump size, cropping patterns, affordability of farmers, availability of state funds, etc.

Economically too, solar pumps are becoming more viable with their prices coming down rapidly due to competition in the market. A number of established companies as well as start-ups are striving to capture the solar pump market, resulting in a price war. Moreover, the 30 per cent subsidy provided by the government is making the pump system even cheaper for consumers.

Chemical industry

The chemical industry places high demands on pumps as they are critical to uninterrupted production and assurance of health and safety compliances. By their very nature, chemicals create a wide-ranging set of circumstances that are unique and which make specifying and selecting the right pump a very complex and vital step in the production process.

Pumps must be able to withstand potentially harmful and corrosive chemicals. In most cases, pumps will be required to transfer several different types of chemicals over their lifetime and this needs to be factored in when selecting a pump. Any compromises in pump material selection will result in pitting and corrosion that can lead to rapid reduction in performance and eventual pump failure.

Fluid containment and control of emissions is important in the processing of chemicals. Pumps that have no seals and are completely self-contained are optimal in chemical applications as dry-running and abrasives or solids can cause failure in mechanical seals.

Mining

Safety and reliability are key prerequisites in surface and underground mining in order to ensure that there are no disruptions in extraction. Mine operators use pumps to remove mine water reliably from operating areas. One of the most important requirements for trouble-free extraction operations is pumping the accumulated mine water out of the working area. Single-suction and double-suction submersible pumps are used in all areas of water procurement, distribution and dewatering for mining applications.

The use of single-suction submersible motor pumps for pumping liquids in huge quantities or from great depths is associated with extreme loads on the unit. The higher the pump performance, the stronger the axial thrust exerted on the pump, the motor and its thrust bearing. The consequences are overloading and untimely shutdown. The design of a double-suction pump, however, provides full compensation of the axial thrust. The economic benefits are maximum operational reliability, minimum wear and an extremely long service life (often exceeding 20 years).

The way forward

Energy efficiency is a key concern in the Indian industrial sector as a quarter of the energy consumed by industrial motors is used by pumps. In order to ensure efficiency, it is important to leverage internet of things (IoT) technology and automation in the pump market. The adoption of smart pumps will increase in the coming years. These pumps can control and regulate the flow or pressure of the fluid, can adjust to process changes, and also have a fault-tolerant design that will induce several manufacturers to adopt these pumps as they reduce the total cost of ownership without compromising performance parameters. Besides IoT, the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality and 3D printing are being used for innovations in pump design, manufacture and deployment, as well as to remotely monitor and operate these systems and to offer seamless and faster after-sales services.

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