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Hard Metal Pumps: Powering Up the Slurry Industry

rotary lobe pumps
by Eric Lunsford
April 16, 2020

Powering Up the Slurry Industry

Hard metal pumps are at the heart of the slurry industry. Without them, transporting abrasive, slurry materials from one point to another within the system would be difficult if not impossible.

A hard metal pump is sometimes called a slurry pump since it handles slurries that could clog or wear out other kinds of pumps. It is made with a sturdy material that is specific for the kind of mixture that it will carry.

Solid particles in the slurry can be abrasive. Hence, the linings are often made with a metal or rubber that could withstand the knocks and scratches that the particles can create.

Specific designs withstand slurries with extreme temperature and pH levels, too. And since these solid-liquid mixtures could be thick and difficult to pump, this kind of equipment generally requires more power to operate. And therefore, it requires a higher operational cost than a standard water pump.

Determining what kind of hard metal pump you will use in your process will depend highly on the material that you will be moving.

But with all the options that you have, it could be confusing and choosing the wrong one could be a costly mistake. Let this article help you in understanding the basics of slurry pumps and in choosing the most suitable one for your process.

How does a hard metal pump work?

Many hard metal pumps are some form of Centrifugal pump. The inlet of the pump is at the center of a rotating impeller. As the mixture flows in between the blades of the impellers and reaches the edges using centrifugal force, pressure energy builds up in between the impeller and the casing. This, in turn, generates kinetic energy that will pump the mixture.

The mechanism is quite simple making this kind of equipment extremely productive and easy to maintain.

Also, understanding this mechanism can help you decide on which parts and features you need to look at closely when dealing with this kind of equipment.

The impeller must be sturdy, the casing must be easy to maintain, and the motor and rotating shaft must operate smoothly.

What are things to consider in selecting hard metal pumps?

Characterize the material

In designing your pumping system, not just in selecting which pump to use, you will need to consider several parameters such as:

  • Particle Size and Distribution: The smaller the size is, the faster the particles travel in the pipeline.
  • Particle Shape: Particles of different shapes will behave differently. The ideal shape is a perfect sphere but, in many cases, it is not. Sharp-edged particles may damage the lining prematurely which makes identifying the shape one of the things to account.
  • Concentration: Express this in terms of mass and volume.
  • Specific Gravity: To calculate, divide the density of the solid over the density of the liquid. The power is directly proportional to this value.
  • Settling or non-settling: Particles larger than 75 micrometers tend to settle while those smaller than this size will remain suspended in the fluid. Knowing this affects certain calculations. The homogeneity of the solid-liquid mixture depends on this, too.

Consider the flow

If the particles are small enough and tend to create a homogeneous mixture, then, the slurry may be considered non-Newtonian.

Knowing this will determine the behavior of the slurry when subjected to stress. Is the shear rate proportional to the shear stress you applied? Newtonian. Does it require a higher amount of force before it starts flowing? Non-Newtonian.

Determining the homogeneity of the mixture also helps you visualize how the mixture behaves inside the piping system. The settling solid particles will be in contact with the walls of the pipes and pump while the non-settling ones will flow steadily.

Even the velocity at which the particles travel along the pipeline will matter. If the velocity is too fast, it will lead to faster wear and tear of the pipe. Also, there will be more friction losses.

Meanwhile, if the velocity is too slow, the particles may settle which can lead to sedimentation and will still have friction losses.

With all these things to consider, choose a hard metal pump that has a wide working range of parameters and that is designed specifically for your system.

Determine the discharge requirements

The total discharge head is the sum of the static discharge head and the friction losses. If you have a target pressure, take note of that as well. Basically, you must know the height at which you want to discharge the mixture and the power requirement depends on this, too.

What are the industries that use hard metal pumps?

Here are some of the industries that employ this kind of pump:

  • Chemical Process
  • Mining
  • Sand and Gravel
  • Pulp and Paper
  • Textile
  • Steel and Mill
  • Oil and Gas
  • Paint
  • Power
  • Wastewater Treatment
  • Sugar
  • Food and Beverage
  • Plastics
  • Pharmaceutical

This kind of equipment is versatile, and many industries use it in their processes. In these industries, you will find three types of this kind of pump.

  • Horizontal: Usually dry-mounted, the most common type
  • Vertical: Either dry- or semi-dry-mounted, saves floor space
  • Submersible: the whole package is in the slurry making it emit little to no noise, the surrounding slurry cools it

Nagle Pumps, Inc., an industry leader for more than 50 years, provides all three kinds with features boasting a long service life and high capacity.

The design includes impellers with large passages to minimize wearing while maximizing the throughput. The bearings are also isolated and specially designed to be heavy-duty and leak-free.

Moreover, Nagle Pumps are easy to maintain which further extends its life. Some parts like the bearing cartridge and the stuffing boxes are easily removable for easy access and maintenance.

Another industry front-runner is the Finish Thompson DAP Series, ANSI Process Pump B73.1. It is one of the most versatile ones in the market.

The wide range of parameters and dimensions of this pump are designed such that it can replace other ANSI pumps in the DAP family without changing the pipeline system. Options for high-temperature systems are also available.

It can withstand the highly corrosive and abrasive slurries of most industries with various materials you can choose from:

  • DCI
  • WCB
  • CF8
  • CF8M
  • CD4M
  • CN7M
  • Hastelloy B&C
  • Titanium
  • Nickel
  • Zirconium


Investing in the equipment that will make your process smooth, defect-free, and productive will surely lead you to better business profitability. Although there are a lot of aspects that govern your business costs, surely, a big percentage of that is your equipment.

With the vast selection of hard metal pumps in the market today and the increasing demand for it, it is easy to be overwhelmed. But if armed with the basic knowledge about it, you will surely find something fit for your process.

Take the time to understand your system requirements and contact Pye-Barker Engineered Solutions, your trusted equipment provider, for more assistance.

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