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Useful Information / Technical Support

What is a drum pump?

  • When do you need a food grade drum pump?
  • How do drum pumps work?
  • The typical design elements of a drum pump
  • The advantages of a drum pump

Drum pumps are a type of pump specifically designed for transferring fluids from drums, barrels or IBCs. Occasionally a longer or shorter drum pump is specified for a larger tank or a mixing vessel. Drum pumps are common in industrial settings such as laboratories, production facilities and distribution centres.

Also known as barrel pumps or oil drum pumps, they are designed to be portable and easily inserted into the opening of a drum, barrel or IBC. The pumps are long and thin in order to reach the bottom of the vessel and to fit into narrow container openings. The pumps typically consist of a drive motor or hand-operated mechanism, a rigid pump tube (also referred to as a pipe, lance, wand or stick), a hose assembly and a nozzle or spout for dispensing the fluid.

Different diameter pump tubes are available for different sized containers. Smaller diameter pumps deliver lower flow rates and are commonly used to empty small containers and carboys (typically 20-70 litres). Larger diameter pumps are used in larger containers, when higher flow rates or delivery pressures are required.

The pump tube inserts into the drum and the liquid is pumped from the bottom of the container. Hand pumps typically utilise a suction mechanism. Powered pumps are usually positive displacement or centrifugal designs, depending on the specific type and model.

The choice of pump depends on fluid type, rheology, density and viscosity, plus desired performance characteristics.  The materials of construction also vary depending on the compatibility requirements of the pumped fluid.

These pumps provide efficient, safe transfer of liquids, reduced risk of spills or leaks and the ability to control the flow rate during dispensing.

Below we have answered various questions about drum pumps:

Man using drum pump and hand nozzle to empty 200litre drum
 

What is a drum pump used for?

 

Drum pumps can handle a wide range of low viscosity liquids, including chemicals, oils, solvents, fuels, food and beverage products, along with various viscous substances eg. grease, resins, pastes. Electric drum pumps are popular in industrial, commercial, and laboratory settings where the efficient and safe transfer of liquids from drums or IBC’s is required. They provide a convenient method of dispensing liquids without the need for manually lifting and pouring from heavy containers. They are also easy to clean and maintain for repetitive use.

The primary purposes of using a drum pump include:

  1. Fluid transfer

Extracting liquids and transferring them to other containers, process equipment or machinery. They are particularly useful for fast transfer of large volumes, or when controlled flow rates are necessary. When selecting drum pumps for flammable liquids, it is essential to consider safety, compatibility, and efficiency.

  1. Dispensing and dosing

Drum pumps enable controlled dispensing and precise dosing of fluids. They are available with variable speed motors or metering/batching filling capabilities, allowing users to accurately dispense the desired amount of liquid.

  1. Mixing and blending

Drum pumps can mix or blend liquids within the drum or IBC itself. Flux Pumps model F426 is our mixing pump. By pumping the liquid from the bottom of the drum and returning it through slots cut in the pump tube, the pump creates circulation and promotes mixing of the contents.

  1. Emptying drums

When a drum needs to be emptied completely, a drum pump is an efficient tool. It allows users to remove as much liquid as possible from the container, minimising waste and ensuring the drum is ready for storage, disposal, or reuse. Flux Pumps model F425 even allows up to 99.9% of the fluid to be removed from the container.

To summarise, a 55 gal drum pump provides a practical solution for handling and transferring liquids from drums and IBC’s, providing convenience, efficiency, and safety in industrial and commercial applications.

Variety of drum and IBC pumps in barrels, containers and IBC
 

When do you need a food grade drum pump?

A food grade barrel pump is typically required when transferring or dispensing food and beverage products from carboys, drums, mixing vessels or IBC containers. These pumps meet the hygiene and safety requirements of the food industry. There are various situations where a food grade electric drum pump is used:

  1. Transferring liquid ingredients

Food grade pumps are commonly used in food processing facilities to transfer liquid ingredients such as oils, syrups, sauces, and dairy products from containers to production equipment. The main purpose of drum pumps for viscous liquids is to facilitate the safe and efficient transfer of high-viscosity fluids without the need for manual pouring or scooping e.g. tomato paste. They are typically made of stainless steel for cleanliness and to withstand the high discharge pressures required to pump thick substances.

  1. Filling containers

When filling smaller containers, such as bottles or jars, a food grade drum pump can ensure accurate and controlled dispensing, minimizing spillage and waste.

  1. Bulk dispensing

For dispensing large quantities of food or beverage products into tanks, vats, or other containers, these pumps can provide an efficient and sanitary solution.

  1. Maintaining product integrity

Food grade pumps are constructed from materials that are safe for contact with food, ensuring that the products being transferred are not contaminated or compromised during the pumping process.

  1. Meeting regulatory requirements

Many food safety regulations and standards require the use of equipment specifically designed for food handling. A food grade electric drum pump complies with these regulations and ensures a higher level of food safety.

It is important to note that the specific requirements for a food grade pumps may vary depending on the nature of the food or beverage being handled, local regulations, and the specific needs of the food processing operation. Therefore, it is always recommended to consult relevant industry guidelines and regulations to determine the appropriate equipment for your specific application. Flux manufactures pumps to comply with the following regulations:

FDA CFR 21

EC 1935 / 2004

3A

Drum pumps food grade are designed for handling food and beverages, while industrial drum pumps are intended for transferring oils, lubricants, chemicals, solvents and fuels. The primary distinctions between a food grade pump and industrial pump lie in the design of the pump itself, the materials used in their construction and the quality of the finish.

The materials and construction of each pump type are tailored to meet the requirements and regulations of their respective industries. For example, food grade pumps will have different o-rings, mechanical seal designs (if present), treated and polished welds and a higher quality surface finish. This ensures there are no dead spots where bacteria could survive.

Man using food grade drum pump in sterile environment
 

How do drum pumps work?

Drum pumps are available in different types but the general principles of operation remain similar.

  1. Types of Drum Pumps
    • Hand-operated pumps: These pumps are manually operated and usually feature a piston or lever mechanism, creating a suction force.
    • Electric pumps: These pumps use an electric motor to drive the pumping action. Various motor types are available depending on the application.
    • Pneumatic drum pumps: These pumps use a compressed air motor to drive the pumping action. Again, various motor types are available depending on the application.
  1. Pump Construction

Drum pumps consist of a rigid tube that inserts into the drum or barrel, a drive mechanism (contained within the rigid tube), and a handle or valve control the dispensing operation. The materials of construction will vary depending on the application and type of pump.

  1. Insertion

The pump tube is manually inserted into the vessel containing the liquid. Occasionally a hoist or spring balancer is used to reduce risks associated with manual handling.

  1. Operation

The specific operation of the pump depends on its type:

    • Hand-operated pumps: By repeatedly activating the suction mechanism, liquid is drawn into the pump and discharged through a spout or outlet. Hand pumps typically dispense approx. 0.3 litres per stroke. They are suitable for transferring small quantities into jugs or containers.
    • Electric pumps: The motor powers an impeller or rotor inside the pump, which forces the liquid through the pump and out through the discharge outlet. Single phase and three-phase motors are available. These pumps typically deliver flow rates from 25-200 LPM.
    • Pneumatic pumps: Compressed air or gas powers a vane motor, which drives the impeller or rotor. These pumps typically deliver flow rates from 30-220 LPM.
  1. Discharge

Liquid flows from the drum or barrel up the pump tube and out of the side discharge port. The liquid is directed into another container or system, usually via a flexible hose and control valve or hand nozzle.

Drum pumps can be used with many liquids, however, you must check that the pump type and materials of construction are compatible with the liquids being transferred. Additionally, proper maintenance and cleaning of the pump are important to ensure its longevity and prevent contamination when transferring between different liquids. Flux model F430 is highly regarded in this respect, being both extremely easy to dismantle for cleaning and having minimal wetted area. Selecting drum pumps for chemicals requires careful consideration to ensure compatibility, efficiency, and safety.

The type and size of the container/s will determine the immersion length chosen for the pump. Typical lengths vary from 500 mm to 1200 mm. A 55 gallon drum pump, the most common size, is usually 1,000mm long. A typical IBC pump is 1200 mm long. The pumps are specified to work in any operational space and to reach the bottom of the barrel. Flux manufactures specialist pumps up to 3,000 mm long, for use in sumps, tanks and bunded areas.

Flux drum pump with dispensing hose and hand nozzle in red barrel
 

Typical design features of a drum pump

These are the typical design elements of a drum pump:

  1. Motor

The motor usually connects to the pump tube with a hand operated locking wheel, however, with some progressive cavity pump designs e.g. Flux F580, the motor is bolted directly to the pump tube. The “male” motor driver engages with a matching “female” coupling in the top of the pump tube.

  1. Pump Tube

The pump tube is the part of the drum pump that comes into contact with the fluid. Flux pump tubes are available in diameters from 25 mm up to 53 mm diameter. Always check the diameter of the container opening before purchasing a drum pump. Tubes are available in different materials to ensure compatibility with the pumped fluid/s.

Flux impeller pump tubes are constructed from the following key materials: Stainless steel 316, PVDF, Aluminium, Polypropylene and Hastelloy C. Selection depends on the media to be pumped and its temperature. Each material has its strengths and limitations in terms of chemical resistance, so choose a chemical drum pump that best suits your application.  As a general guide:

    • Stainless steel 316 - typically used for food products, cosmetics, pharmaceticals, flammable fuels and solvents.
    • PVDF - typically used for concentrated acids, e.g. sulphuric, nitric.
    • Aluminium - typically used for oils and diesel fuel.
    • Polypropylene - used for a wide range of liquids, but typically low concentration acids and alkalis.
    • Hastelloy C - rarely specified due to its high cost. Used when stainless steel is incompatible e.g. for flammable acetates, chlorides or unusually corrosive acids. Also used in high temperature applications and particularly harsh environments.
  1. Seals and Gaskets

All drum pumps have seals and gaskets to prevent leakage or vapour emissions. Important for spill prevention and to maintain the integrity of the pumped fluid. O-ring, seals and gaskets are available in different materials, depending on the application and the fluid. Typical materials include:

 

    • FKM (Fluoroelastomer). Trade name, Viton. FKM o-rings are widely used in chemical applications. They have high resistance to heat, chemicals, fuels, and oils.
    • FEP (Flourinated Ethylene Propylene). These encapsulated o-rings offer high chemical resistance and good sealing ability for a reasonable price. For use with concentrated acids and solvents.
    • EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer). Synthetic rubber o-rings that exhibit good resistance strong alkalis, eg. Caustic Soda.
    • FFKM (Perfluoroelastomer). Trade name, Kalrez. FFKM offers ultimate chemical resistance, heat resistance (but at a price). For use with highly aggressive acids and solvents.
    • NBR (Nitrile or Buna-N). Widely used rubber o-rings that offer excellent resistance to oil, diesel and other hydrocarbon-based fluids. They have good abrasion resistance, but are not suitable for use with solvents, acids or alkalis.
    • PE (Polyethylene). Low cost non-elastomeric gasket material with good chemical resistance.
    • PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene). Non-elastomeric gasket material with excellent chemical resistance.
  1. Pumping Mechanism

Drum pumps employ different pumping mechanisms depending on the type and viscosity of the fluid. Flux designs include centrifugal (impeller) and progressive cavity (positive displacement) types.

Impeller pumps

The most common type of drum pumps. Widely used for low viscosity fluids with viscosities below 1,000 mPas. Well-suited to high flow, low-pressure transfer applications.

Design overview: The motor coupling connects to a long driveshaft, which obtains support from a series of bearings. An impeller is mounted on the end of the driveshaft. Flux utilises both axial and semi-axial impeller designs, depending on the application. Liquid flows into the pump inlet under gravity and is energised by the impeller.

The impeller drives liquid up the pump tube from the bottom of the container. This ensures nearly all the liquid is removed from the container. The impeller is driven directly by the motor, which spins at high speeds up to 8000 RPM. Damaging shaft deflection and vibration can occur at these high speeds, therefore Flux utilises large diameter drive-shafts, a greater number of bearings (each with high surface area) and high quality materials to provide the longest possible service life.

Flux impeller pump tubes are available in different designs depending on the application:

Progressive Cavity pumps

Typically used for high viscosity fluids up to 100,000 mPas (and even higher viscosity, shear-thinning fluids e.g. Vaseline), plus high pressure transfer applications. Deliver the high pressures needed to move sticky, Newtonian materials. Flux Viscopower will provide a maximum delivery pressure of 15 Bar. Flux manufactures progressive cavity pump tubes only in stainless steel material.

Design overview: the motor coupling connected to the long driveshaft which is unsupported within the pump tube. Flux Viscopower pumps utilise either a heavy-duty bearing flange design (directly driven at <1000 RPM by 3-phase electric motor or large compressed air motor) or a more portable gearbox design (driven at <8000 RPM by single-phase electric motor, or small compressed air motor). The gearbox reduces rotor speed to <1000 RPM. An open or closed (industrial or sanitary), hard-faced mechanical shaft seal is employed to seal the top of the pump tube (below the gearbox, if fitted), preventing leakage. A stainless steel rotor is fitted to the end of the driveshaft. The rotor turns inside a softer sacrificial material, known as the “stator”, which is pinned inside a removable housing at the end of the pump tube.

Contact between the rotor and stator has two effects:

  • Creates a partial vacuum to help draw in the fluid.
  • Allows the pump to develop the pressure required to drive the fluid up the pump tube and beyond.

Rotors and stators are available with different profiles depending on the viscosity and rheology of the liquid being pumped and the desired performance.

Stators are available in different materials e.g. NBR, PTFE or FKM, depending on the fluid to be pumped, and the desired flow and pressure.

  1. Discharge Nozzle

Centrifugal drum pumps are typically used with a discharge nozzle or spout that allows the fluid to be directed into the receiving container or equipment. The nozzle includes a valve or control mechanism to regulate flow and stop the discharge hose from draining under gravity when the pump is switched off.

  1. Hose

A flexible hose often attached to the pump outlet and discharge nozzle to transfer the fluid to the desired location. The hose should be constructed from (or lined with) materials compatible with the type of fluid pumped e.g. PVC, NBR, PE or PTFE.

  1. Safety Features

Depending on the application, drum pumps may incorporate safety features such as grounding wires to prevent the build-up of static electrical charge, explosion-proof motors for handling flammable liquids, motor overheat or overload protection mechanisms, or low-voltage protection. Flux also offers accessories such as fume glands to limit vapour emissions when pumping volatile solvents.

  1. Mounting Options

Pumps are secured in the container via a compression gland or bung. This stops the pump moving in the container during use and prevents dirt or foreign items from accidentally falling in. These devices have threads specifically designed to fit certain drum types/IBC caps eg. steel 205 litre drums, polyethylene 220 litre UN drums, IBC caps with BSP threaded bung hole.

If the application involves dangerous vapour, gas or mist, a fume gland is used. The fume gland eliminates harmful vapour emissions but still allows air into the drum to stop a vacuum forming. Screw clamp assemblies are available to secure drum pumps in open-top containers, tanks and mixing vessels.

  1. Accessories

Batch controllers, flow meters, filters, or specialized nozzles may be available to enhance the functionality of the drum pump or meet specific requirements of the application.

Flux Pumps are experts in drum and IBC transfer applications. It is important to note that specific designs and features may vary across different manufacturers and models of drum pumps.

Man filling Ad Blue containers with drum pump and hand nozzle
 

The advantages of a drum pump

Here are some advantages of using a drum pump:

Efficiency

Drum pumps improve the speed and efficiency of transferring liquids. They fit into the opening of drums and barrels, allowing for quick and efficient pumping without the need for manual handling or pouring.

Safety

Drum pumps provide a safer alternative to manual pouring or siphoning. They are available with built-in safety features such as anti-drip nozzles, explosion-proof motors and back-flow valves, plus optional fume glands to reduce vapour emissions.

Versatility

Drum pumps are available in various configurations and materials to suit different types of liquids and chemicals. They can handle a wide range of viscosities, from thin fluids to highly viscous substances, making them suitable for a diverse range of applications.

Contamination prevention

Drum pumps maintain the integrity and purity of the liquid transferred. They typically have sealed pumping mechanisms that prevent air exposure, reducing the risk of contamination, oxidation, or degradation of the liquid.

 

Cost-effectiveness

By using a drum pump, you can efficiently extract liquids from drums or barrels and limit wastage. They eliminate the need for manual handling or multiple transfers, reducing the chances of spills and product loss. This can result in cost savings over time.

Convenience

Drum pumps are easy to use and require minimal effort to operate. They are lightweight, portable and often equipped with ergonomic handles or controls, allowing for comfortable and hassle-free pumping. Flux Pumps offers features such as variable speed motors, flowmeters and batch controllers for dispensing pre-set quantities accurately.

Environmental benefits

Drum pumps can contribute to environmental sustainability by reducing product waste and minimising the risk of spills or leaks, especially when it comes to drum pumps for corrosive liquids. They help prevent accidental contamination of soil, water sources, or the surrounding environment, making them an environmentally friendly solution for liquid transfer.

If you would like assistance selecting a drum pump contact the sales team at sales@flux-pumps.co.uk.

 

FLUX Pumps Intern. (UK) Ltd.

In 1950 the worldwide’s first electrical drum pump was named FLUX. Meanwhile the undisputed pioneer on the field of drum pump technology also has outstanding expertise and experience in many other areas of pump technology. The comprehensive product portfolio ranges now from various pump types with motors, flow meters and accessories to subsystems for the plant engineering and special system solutions like the drum emptying systems. The internationally acting family company with its 7 subsidiaries and numerous sales partners supplies its products to more than 100 countries worldwide.

Contact and information:

FLUX Pumps Intern. (UK) Ltd.
12 Enterprise Park
Blackmoor Road
Verwood, Dorset BH31 6YS
Phone. +44 1202 823304
Fax +44 1202 813387
info@flux-pumps.co.uk
www.flux-pumps.co.uk

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