How does a Plunger Pump Work?

Plunger pump is most commonly used type of the pump. This article explains the plunger pump working, components, and applications.

What is a Plunger Pump?

A plunger pump is a reciprocating pump that has a reciprocating cylindrical plunger and a fixed high-pressure seal. The plunger slides inside the seal. This arrangement makes it different from the piston pump and makes it capable of high-pressure applications.

In 1675, Samuel Morland invented the plunger pump.

plunger pump

This pump has a compression cylinder. The plunger moves forward and backward inside the cylinder to deliver the liquid from one area to other.

Water pistols, spray bottles, and bicycle pumps are the most common examples of plunger pumps.  

These types of positive displacement pumps are usually used in agricultural, pest control, disinfection, cleaning, and other power equipment applications such as sprayers, atomizers, and pressure washers. The plunger pumps are also commonly used for pumping industrial and municipal effluent.

Working of Plunger Pump

plunger pump working

Piston pumps and plunger pumps are positive displacement pumps. The plunger pump works in a similar way as the piston pump, but the main difference is that it uses a plunger instead of a piston.

That means it uses cavities that contract and expand to move the liquid. Specifically, they are piston pumps, where the chamber expands and contracts in a reciprocating (forward-back; up-down) motion rather than in a circular motion (rotation).

Applications Of Plunger Pumps

The plunger pump has the ability to transfer viscosity liquids and heavy substances. They have the ability to pump fluid with high pressure. Therefore, these pumps are employed for the below given major applications:

  • The plunger pumps are used to pump municipal wastewater
  • They used for pressure testing
  • They operate to inject chemical
  • Used for coal liquefaction
  • Used for cleaning services
  • The plunger pump also uses for urea production
  • They also use to control smell and misting
  • They utilize for surface preparation and dehydration of gas
  • These pumps are also used for water cutting and drill cutting injection
  • Used in oil and gas production

Advantages Of Plunger Pump

  • The plunger pumps have a self-priming capacity.
  • These are highly efficient pumps.
  • These pumps don’t require initial priming.
  • The plunger pumps have the capacity to generate very high pressure. Therefore, they are best suitable for high-pressure applications.
  • In the case of variable speed, it has the capability to control linear capacity.
  • The leakage issues of this pump can be fixed without stopping the operation of the pump.
  • This pump produces more pressure than a piston pump.
  • The pump performance doesn’t affect highly due to changes in the pressure and flow rate.
  • They can easily pump heavy substances and high-viscosity fluids.
  • They can easily transfer the abrasives and slurries.             

Disadvantages Of Plunger Pump

  • The plunger pumps have more moving parts than the axial or centrifugal pumps.
  • They have low flow rate than axial or centrifugal pumps.
  • They don’t have the capability to deliver pulsating free flow.
  • It requires high maintenance and installation costs.
  • This pump has many reciprocating parts. Due to the motion of these parts, they generate extreme vibration.
  • The operating cost of this pump is very high.
  • The plunger pump can only control low-flow rate liquids
  • These are heavy pumps.
  • They are bulky.

Differences Between Piston Pump and Plunger Pump

Piston PumpPlunger Pump
The piston pump uses a piston to pump the fluid.The plunger pump uses a plunger to pump the fluid.
It has a high-pressure reciprocating seal that moves forward and backward with a piston inside the cylinder.It has a fixed high-pressure seal.
The pressure of the inlet is from 8.5psi to 40psi.The pressure of the inlet is from 60psi to 70psi.
The pressure of the outlet design is from 100 psi to 1200psiThe pressure of the outlet design is from 100psi to 10,000psi
Force piston pump, lift piston pump, radial piston pump, and axial piston pump are the types of piston pumps.Duplex pump, simplex pump, and multiplex pump are the types of plunger pumps.
These pumps can’t generate as high pressure as plunger pumps.They generate very high pressure.

FAQ Section

What are plunger pumps used for?

Plunger pumps are usually used in agriculture, portable sanitation, pest control, disinfection, soft wash, and other high-pressure applications. These pumps may also be used in electrically powered apparatus like pressure sprayers, misters, and washers.

What is the principle of plunger pump?

The plunger pump operates by creating a suction force within the fluid, allowing the valve on the fluid end to open and permit the medium to enter. The plunger then raises the fluid’s pressure and autonomously transfers a specific volume.

What is the difference between piston pump and plunger pump?

The main difference between a piston pump and a plunger pump is that a piston pump uses a piston to pump the fluid, while a plunger pump uses a plunger.

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