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Why centrifugal pumps ? : The centrifugal pump has for many years
been the most suitable pump onboard chemical tankers where a high
pumping capacity is the most important factor. The size and cost of such
a pump does not increase in proportion with the throughput, as it is not a
positive displacement pump. It requires either the provision of ancillary
self-priming equipment for the removal of air in the system or a separate
stripping system.

Operation of centrifugal pumps

During operations consideration must be given to the prevailing suction


and discharge conditions in relation to the pumps performance
characteristics. This is particularly important when operating cargo
pumps where the rated capacity is achieved at a relatively high total
head. Operation of these pumps with a low total head can grossly exceed
the pumps rated capacity and cause excessive liquid velocities in piping
systems.
Fig: Centrifugal pump

Discharge Valves

Control of a centrifugal pump can be achieved by either adjusting the


pump discharge valve and/or restricting the pump speed. The discharge
control valve has three main functions:-

They can be used to regulate pumping rates in variable and


constant speed pumps and also to prevent overloading in constant
speed pumps.

They can be used in conjunction with self priming systems to


provide a self priming capability in centrifugal pumps.

They can be used to reduce the throughput of a pump, and so


reduce the Nett Positive Suction Head required.

Self Priming

In a self-priming system a discharge control valve performs two duties:-

1. By restricting the pump throughput, the head is artificially raised to


a level above the normal discharge system resistance at that
particular throughput.
2. Throughput is reduced to a level equal to, or below, the natural flow
of liquid to the pump so that cavitation does not occur, i.e. the flow
of liquid to the tank suction strum is closely matched to the pump
throughput.

The performance of a centrifugal pump declines if gas is entrained in the


liquid being pumped. Manual matching of pump input and output is
difficult, and without external aid suction cannot be regained once the
strum has been uncovered and air allowed to enter the suction piping. It
is for this reason that separate positive displacement pump stripping
systems are usually installed.

Centrifugal pumps can be made self-priming if air or gas is removed from


the liquid being pumped before it enters the pump suction. The discharge
valve on the pump performs as important function during this process by
matching the discharge rate of the pump to the natural flow of liquid to
the pump suction. The sequence of events is:

1. Discharge commences, pump and separator fill with oil.


2. Vacuum pump and valve in gas extraction line are shut-off by float
switch in pump separator.
3. Discharge valve is fully open, the control system reacting to
separator level.
4. Tank level falls to point where separator level begins to fall causing
the vacuum pump to start to extract the gases filling the top of the
separator preventing cavitation. The extracted gases are vented to
a slop tank.
5. As the separator level falls, the control system partly closes the
discharge valve on the pump to reduce the output of the pump.

In this way the discharge and stripping operation can continue, the
discharge valve being progressively closed, as the vacuum pumps have
to work harder to keep the separator full.
Cavitation

A pump is said to cavitate when the pressure at the pump suction has
fallen to such an extent that bubbles of vapour are formed in the fluid
being pumped.
In a centrifugal pump bubbles can form with great rapidity at the pump
suction and may be carried away to regions of higher pressure within the
pump. The bubbles then collapse rapidly and in the process of collapsing
create a hammer effect. This effect, though minute, if repeated
frequently, may cause damage to the pump. The residual effects of
cavitation, as well as the cavitation itself, can be a problem and include:-

Erosion of metallic surfaces which, if severe, may create flow


disturbances.
Vibration, which may damage the pump or, more commonly, the
instrumentation connected with the pump and installation.

Centrifugal pumps must not be allowed to cavitate.

Starting & stopping of pumps

When dealing with steam hydro electric or electrically driven cargo


pumps the following procedures are to be followed:

1. The Duty Engineer must be given adequate notice of starting or


stopping cargo pumps.

2. The pumproom is to be checked as soon as possible after any pump


unit is started.
3. The pump casing is to be vented of air or gas and primed full of
liquid before starting the pump.

4. Starting of steam driven centrifugal pumps is to be done in


accordance with the manufacturers instructions, and to be closely
monitored by the Duty Engineer.

5. Centrifugal pumps are not be run above minimum speed until the
Duty Engineer is satisfied with the operating condition of the drive
unit.

6. Steam driven centrifugal pumps must be started against a closed


discharge valve. Once the pump is turning the valve should be
opened gradually as the pump is brought slowly up to the desired
operating speed.

7. Electrically driven centrifugal pumps which run at constant speed,


are to be started against a closed discharge valve. Once the pump
is running the discharge valve is to be opened until the desired
discharge pressure is achieved.

8. The stopping of steam driven centrifugal pumps must be carried


out by the Duty Engineer, however, routine stopping may be carried
out using remote controls providing prior notice has been given to
the Duty Engineer.

9. The stopping of electrically driven pumps may be carried out from


the Cargo Control Room. Before stopping the pump the load on the
pump is to be reduced by closing in on the discharge valve. The
Duty Engineer must always be advised of when such a pump is
being stopped to allow him to monitor the generating plant as the
electrical load changes.

Emergency stopping of pumps

The emergency stopping of cargo pumps must be carried out by


whatever controls are most accessible. All personnel involved in the
cargo operations must be aware of the location of cargo pump
emergency trips/stops.
Related Info

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Risk & hazards of chemical contamination onboard

Cargo hoses handling ,connection and use

PV valves operation and maintenance procedure

Control & operation of centrifugal pumps

How to test a tank environment prior entry ?

How to determine the level of a liquid in a chemical tank

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