Rapid urbanisation in India, accompanied by increasing economic development, has given rise to the demand for pumps and pumping systems across different sectors of infrastructure in the country. The use of pumping systems is widespread, ranging from municipal water and waste management services to sectors such as power, chemicals, and oil and gas. Pumping systems not only ensure the smooth functioning of operations but also accelerate and enhance operations by improving pressure and filtration.
There are two type of pumps – positive displacement and centrifugal. The selection of these pumps for various purposes relies on a variety of factors such as viscosity of the fluid, type of liquid, temperature and abrasiveness. Positive displacement pumps are cyclic in action and can be driven by pistons, screws, gears, rollers or diaphragms. These pumps prevent fluid from recirculating back towards the pump inlet. Meanwhile, centrifugal pumps use rotating impellers to move other fluids by applying centrifugal force. These pumps are the most commonly used across all sectors.
Indian Infrastructure takes a look at the requirements of pumps across various infrastructure sectors…
Irrigation, water and waste
In the irrigation sector, the usage of pumps involves achieving irrigation efficiency by pumping and supplying adequate amounts of water to speed up the process of cultivation. Many states are undertaking steps to install pumps for increasing irrigation efficiency. For instance, the Punjab Energy Development Agency, under Component C of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM), is planning to commission 29 solar projects with a cumulative capacity of around 54 MW and associated transmission lines in the renewable energy service company mode for feeder-level solarisation of around 25,000 agricultural pumps of 65 feeders. The scope of the project includes a component of operations and maintenance for 25 years and the integration of projects with the remote monitoring system data for 25 years. Besides, the Punjab government has sought central financial assistance under PM-KUSUM scheme to facilitate solar-enabled agricultural pumps of up to 15 horsepower capacity in the state. The state government is seeking this assistance as the cost to solarise the existing pumps is high.
In the water and waste sectors, pumps provide a regulated supply by pumping water from low levels to high levels. Similarly, they help in pumping sewage and regulating the process of sewage treatment. In order to develop sewage collection and treatment facilities as well as drainage and water supply systems in Tamil Nadu, the central government, in December 2022, signed an agreement with the Asian Development Bank for a loan worth $125 million. This loan will provide support for the development of two sewage treatment plants in Coimbatore district and also include the laying of 529 km of sewage collection pipeline, the installation of 14 pumps and lift stations, and the construction of 14 km-long sewage pumping mains.
Of the two categories of pumps, centrifugal pumps dominate the water and waste sectors as they are best suited for water and other liquids. Over the years, the demand for pumping systems in the water and waste sectors has been increasing with the introduction of new technologies for better management. Vertical turbine pumps, vertical volute pumps, multistage pumps, jet monobloc pumps, end-suction pumps, non-clog pumps and horizontal non-clog end-suction pumps are some of the pumps that have been deployed in the sector recently.
Pumping systems in the power sector are mainly used for fuel oil processing, lubrication and cooling. Since this sector is diverse, different activities require different types of pumping solutions. On an average, a 300 MW combined cycle power plant will have more than 100 pumps. However, centrifugal pumps continue to remain a prominent choice. Boiler feed water pumps, horizontal booster pumps, GSG radially split barrel casing pumps, high pressure temperature single-stage barrel casing boiler feed pumps, and concrete volute pumps are a few of the other pumping systems being used in the power sector. The ANDRITZ Group is one of the players offering pumps for the power industry in India. It offers centrifugal pumps as well as pumps that can be used as turbines for industrial applications and processes. It develops and manufactures cooling water and auxiliary pumps for application in the power industry.
Positive displacement pumps, particularly the rotary varieties, are less prevalent in this sector. However, in many applications, these pumps can prove to be more cost effective and provide more efficient fluid management. Positive displacement pumps do not exert pressure; instead, they just move the fluids. Pressure is created as a result of the liquid’s resistance to moving past the pump.
Oil and gas
Oil and gas operations cannot be carried out without efficient pumping systems. Pumps are required at almost every stage of the process including the transfer of fuel from the ground to ships, refineries or storage and for speeding up the fluid flow from one point to another. The entire extraction, shipping and refining process requires the most dependable pumping equipment. Some of the most used pumps in the oil and gas sector are centrifugal pumps, reciprocating plunger pumps, progressive cavity pumps, gear pumps, diaphragm pumps and metering pumps.
Pumps in this industry must be made with materials that can withstand harsh environmental conditions such as high temperatures and pressures or extremely low pressures and cryogenic temperatures. Additionally, they must not react with any chemicals to which they may be exposed. Pump reliability is crucial since failure can have a significant financial impact and pose safety and environmental risks.
Pumps are also used extensively in the chemical industry because they are essential for ensuring continuous production and compliance with health and safety regulations. They need to be so as to be able to tolerate corrosive and potentially hazardous chemicals. Pumps are typically required to transport a variety of different chemicals. Any compromises in the choice of pump material may cause pitting and corrosion, which can quickly reduce performance and eventually cause pump failure. Some of the common choices include plastic centrifugal pumps, positive displacement pumps, and diaphragm and turbine pumps.
The way forward
Pumps are essential components that facilitate operations in almost every industry. With increasing development and productivity, the need for pumps and pumping systems is expected to go up. To ensure efficiency and ke-ep up with changes, it is essential that this industry remains updated with technical advancements while maintaining sustainability. This calls for options such as solar pumps. Solar pumps are emerging as a suitable choice because of their high feasibility and low maintenance. Solar-powered water pumps can supply water where power lines are unable to reach. They perform exceptionally well during the summer season, generating maximum power. The need for submersible solar pumps is also rising as they can lift up to 650 feet of water and can be installed in big wells.
Recognising the gains of solar pumps, the Solar Energy Corporation of India is planning to set up agricultural solar pumps in selected states across India under Component B of the PM-KUSUM scheme. The central government is also planning to replace agricultural diesel pumps with solar water pumps and solarise grid-connected agricultural pumps. With India making its mark in the manufacturing industry, the market for pumps is going to expand significantly. The focus should therefore be on creating cost-efficient pumps that match international standards.