A drum pump is a pump used to pump liquid from or into a drum (container). These liquids can be water or other types of liquid. Water weights about 8.3 pounds a US gallon but other liquids can weigh much more based on its density. For this reason, tipping a drum to empty it can be difficult or impractical and even unsafe. A proper drum pump will draw out (or draw in) the liquid with low risk of spillage.
Drum pumps are used by many types of chemical plants, food processing plants, and other manufacturing and processing plants that purchase liquids or pasty products in drums or totes (a larger container). These companies usually need a practical way to pump small quantities of fluid out of the container.
There are many types of liquids that need to be processed, transferred, transported and handled, so drum pumps are designed to handle all sorts of liquids. Here are some common industries that utilize drum pumps:
There are many types of drum pumps available – electrically operated, manually operated and pneumatically operated. They can also be used on an interchangeable basis, though sometimes they are hard-wired into a drum or barrel. These liquid transfer equipment is portable with the ability to be hard-piped into a factory system and available in metallic and non-metallic (plastic) materials to minimize corrosion when used with corrosive liquids.
Electrically operated drum pumps work by fitting into the top opening of a drum by way of its narrow tube, which houses a vertical shaft. The drum pump consists of a small motor attached to the shaft, which runs on an AC or DC electric motor. The motor turns on the drum pump via a switch. When the pump is actuated, its pumping mechanism comes from the base of the tube, which sucks up the content. The base of the tube relies on either a small centrifugal pump impeller or a rotor. Electric-operated drum resemble manually operated drum pumps but use electric power. They are ideal to use for tasks that involve a higher volume transfer. These types of pumps are available in battery powered as well as wired models. They are available with different voltages, higher voltage models are generally thicker and heavier products with different lever shapes and lever lengths. Electrically operated systems are good for use with large quantities of drum drainage volume.
Manually operated drum pumps can be actuated by hand using a crank or through a piston pump. They are ideal for remote pumping applications and in instances where there is little to no power available. Materials of manufacturer range from stainless steel, and aluminum metals to plastics like polyacetal, polyphenylene sulfide, and PVC. The inlet size can range from ½” to 1-½”. Manually operated pumps offer easy, leak-free, spark-free pumping. Because they are low cost they are ideal for low volume and low use applications. Many of these manually operated pumps are also approved for hazardous environments but if the volume and use is such that manual pumping is not practical, then the next option would be a pneumatically operated model.
Pneumatically operated drum pumps can use an air motor instead of an electric motor. These air driven drum pump motors are particularly suitable for intermittent and short term operations. Many applications using such pneumatic air motors are in explosion proof environments where power is required for large volume handling and where manual pumps are not adequate. Drum pumps with air operated motors and conductive stainless steel tubes are typical for transferring flammable media of different hazard classes and use in hazardous environments. Such pumps should have ATEX approval.
Other environments most suitable for pneumatically operated – or air operated drum pumps are those where the surroundings are humid and wet, or are very dusty and dirty such that the environment can damage the electrics in an electrically powered drum pump and cause pre-mature failure. If the life of an electrically operated drum pump is short then an air operated drum pump should be seriously considered.
Nex Flow offer a special type of pneumatically operated drum pump called the Drum Angel. This system is a “reversible” system that can both empty and fill a container. The Drum Angel unit is mounted to the small hole on a closed drum. A stand pipe and drum adaptor is inserted and secured through the large opening in the drum. Then a hose and other collection attachments are connected to the adaptor. The stand pipe is long enough to reach the bottom of the drum and has an angled cut so liquid can enter or leave the pipe easily and not get plugged while in use. The Drum Angle is then connected to a compressed air supply with minimum 80 PSIG supply pressure for operation. Made of 316L stainless steel – the unit is designed to handle many types of materials including corrosive liquids. It has an adjustable knob that puts the system in a vacuum mode, where it creates a vacuum inside the drum, drawing in liquid. There is a built in plastic float in the Drum Angel that stops the unit from working when the drum is full, preventing over filling. When the knob is turned the other way, the Drum Angel operates in pressure mode, pressurizing the drum. This forces liquid out of the drum, up through the slot in the stand pipe and out of the drum. A built in pressure relief valve is included to avoid over pressuring the drum thereby preventing damage to the drum and making the unit safe to operate. These types of pneumatically operated drum pumps are normally used in maintenance applications for spill cleanup, cleanup of sludge and chips, coolant transfer, hydraulic oils, tramp oil and waste water cleanup and/or transfer. Because there is no moving parts except for the knob to select between a Vacuum and pressure mode (fill or empty), these system are very hardy with minimal maintenance. No impellors to clog as with other electric and pneumatic systems. However, they should not be used to collect or transfer any materials which can be explosive. So they should not be used with any material that has a low flashpoint or is considered flammable such as alcohol, fuel oil, mineral spirits, gasoline or kerosene. For such materials other pneumatic systems with Atex approval is recommended and in most countries necessary.
Drum Angel best Applications
Whatever the application, in choosing the proper drum pump – electrically operated, manual or pneumatic – keep in mind the amount of use, the environment, and the particular application so you can choose the best drum pump for your needs.