Magnetic Drive Pump (Canned Pump) technology has been commercially available for more than a quarter of a century, yet this technology has not been widely adopted by Industry because of the technology’s inherent limitations.
Some end users approach the magnetic drive pump as a cure-all for all pump issues. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. It is fact that magnetic pumps have less tolerance for misapplication and process upsets than conventional pumps and their incorrect specification can therefore cost plants dearly over the life time of the pump.
Magnetic Drive Pumps do have a place in certain industry/application sectors, however this technology is not generally favoured by reliability and commercially aware engineers who operate multi-purpose plants with standardised equipment. Below are some of the pumps limitations, helping the reader to understand why most engineers and plant operatives prefer conventional pump and mechanical seal technology.
A major difference between magnetic drive and conventional pumps is the location and type of bearings. In a conventional pump design, the bearings are usually located well away from the pumped liquid in a well-controlled environment. This offers the operator a wide choice of bearing lubricants which can be used to keep the bearings operating cool and reliably.
However, with magnetic drive pumps, the bearings on the impeller shaft are lubricated by the process fluid and often this is not an appropriate lubricant for bearing life optimisation. In addition, when the pump runs dry or operates at very low flows, the lubricant tends to disappear and the bearings will overheat. More importantly, as the bearings are usually of the sleeve type with slots or grooves to supply the lubricant to the bearing running surface, any solids in the process fluid will be detrimental to the bearing reliability.
Consequently, the bearings in a magnetic drive pump tend to be the first failure point with often catastrophic health and safety consequences or at the very least significant cost implications.
Magnets are temperature sensitive and will demagnetize if exposed to temperatures exceeding their upper limit. To provide some degree of protection against this problem, the material of the magnets should be selected to be able to handle at least 30 degrees C (50 Deg F) above the expected maximum operating temperature.
When processing fluids at elevated temperatures, or in multi-purpose plants with varying batch conditions, this means that the magnets and hence the pump, needs to be specified withstand very high temperatures, which increases the procurement cost.
Operators must also avoid any process upset condition that would cause the generation of heat with this type of pump. Such conditions would include running the pump dry or against a closed discharge valve.
Experience plant engineers will understand that such process upset and operating conditions will be encountered from time to time. Whereas a double mechanical seal and seal support system can protect the pump against such conditions, a Magnetic Drive Pump has no protection and therefore is prone to frequently and prematurely failing.
In summary, failure to correctly specify Magnetic Drive Pumps and anticipate what the duties the pump will encounter in the plant over the full life time of the pump, will result in reduced equipment Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF).
All magnetic couplings are rated for a maximum torque capability beyond which the magnets no longer operate at the same speed. This is referred to as “decoupling” and, if the pump operates in this state for very long, the magnets will be permanently demagnetized.
Consequently, the magnetic drive pump is particularly vulnerable to any abnormal operating conditions that might result in an excessively high torque demand. The use of power monitors is recommended for all applications in which magnetic drive pumps are used, which increases equipment cost but will not prevent failure.
Correctly selected Magnetic Drive pumps are typically much more expensive that conventional pumps in a like for like environment.
Refurbishment costs are also significantly more expensive with Mag Drive Pumps and therefore over the life of the pump, despite conventional pumps requiring mechanical seals, mag drive pumps are often much more expensive to operate.
Furthermore, given the limited application base for mag drive pumps, they cannot be readily used across applications, batches and/or in multi-purpose plants. This increases the plants equipment stock costs and increases pump downtime, as Mag Drive pump parts are typically on a longer lead time.
The paper is designed to help inform operators and procurement engineers about the limitations of Magnetic Drive Pumps. It can be used for training purposes
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why magnetic drive pump technology has not widely taken off as a preferred solution for pumping process fluids in industrial applications.
As such, conventional pumps which use mechanical seal technology with seal support systems, is by far the most commercially and technically attractive long term reliable solution for modern, best practice process plant operations. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned
Using solvents in any manufacturing process requires solvent charging, removal and storage. Each stage creates solvent vapours in addition to those that are generated when the solvents are physically used in the manufacturing process. Recovering these solvent vapours is critical for process operational efficiency, plant cost savings, operator health & safety and environmental legislation compliance.
There are many industrial applications which involve the processing of solvents. Such applications include; distillation, drying, evaporation/crystallisation, solvent/vapour recovery and filtration and equipment includes reactors, mixers and dryers. In the Pharmaceutical sector, for example, solvents which are used in the reactors are typically displaced through a vent system to a solvent recovery system and in larger plants, multiple reactor systems often to vent to a common solvent recovery unit.
Some vent systems are “one-pass” systems whereby the vapours are exhausted from the reactor, pass through the recovery unit, are cooled, and expelled to the atmosphere (where applicable). In the reactors, mixing, coating, and drying/granulating operations, a more efficient and economical method of solvent recovery is to use a “closed-loop” system.
A closed-loop system is best suited for batch processing systems, but can also be adapted to a continuous feed system. The closed-loop system has the advantage of having no emissions during operation, which in effect gives a 100% recovery of the solvent. This is very commercially attractive to the manufacturing plant and much safer for operator welfare.
The most common closed-loop system employs a vacuum pump for handling solvents. There are several types of vacuum pumps which could be employed including Liquid Ring, Dry Pumps, Rotary Lobe, Claw and Screw pumps. These systems tend to not require internal lubrication so allows solvent vapors to be sucked through the pumps without jeopardising the lubrication. By contrast, oil sealed pumps such as rotary vane or piston that do require internal lubrication typically have problems on such duties.
Both Liquid Ring and Dry Pumps have external bearings which are isolated from the process fluid. In addition the Dry Pump also has oil lubricated timing gears to maintain the two parallel shafts rotating in the correct phase to avoid contact. Given the variety of options, the user needs to understand the potential issues of each.
For example, screw pumps have a high potential wear rate as they have to operate with very close radial clearances. Stainless steel rotary parts contacting stainless steel stationary parts creates galling issues which can lead to high heat generation and premature pump failure.
Some pump manufacturers help to overcome potential galling contact issues by manufacturing their pumps from ductile cast iron materials. Unfortunately, this opens up another set of issues given condensation, as encountered in solvent recovery applications, is disastrous for pumps which are made of materials which can corrode. Furthermore, as many pumps are horizontally orientated, this condensation can not escape. This results in high corrosion attach of ductile iron material leading to loss of radial clearances and premature pump failure.
Wherever possible, the best approach is a self-draining dry pump design, manufactured from non-galling materials which is mounted in a vertical orientation. This ensures that there is no stagnation of the product media and less chance of condensation between counter-rotating components. As such, one design that has won favour with rotating equipment engineers around the world, is the ADVV - Automated Dry Vertical Vacuum pump from Stanpumps. The Stanpumps ADVV creates an ideal operating environment for 100%, closed loop solvent extraction and recovery, as found in Reactor, Mixing and Drying applications. Click here to find out more.