As the world’s population grows and the number of inhabitants increases, there is a growing reliance on the fertilizer industry to provide reliable sources of food and sustain the overall population.
Fertilizers are produced using three types of raw materials: the straight variety, which generally consists of single ingredients like ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, or potassium chloride (potash); the combined type, such as mono ammonium phosphate and di-ammonium phosphate; or a “compound” configuration, with NPK fertilizers — a mixture of various levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium compounds.
To handle the successful production of fertilizers using these compounds, a manufacturer must use a production system that can control these potentially hazardous substances. One of the challenges is to choose the right pump in the production chain while also avoiding unnecessary explosions and improper maintenance.
This guide will explain how to choose the right pump and take the necessary precautions before selecting the pumps used in the manufacturing of fertilizer.
Plunger pumps are defined as reciprocating positive displacement (PD) pumps that possess one or multiple inline plungers, are configured horizontally, and are powered by an electric motor or an engine. The plunger can be single-acting (suction occurs as it ascends and discharge takes place as it descends) or double-acting, with both suction and discharge stages occurring simultaneously on the opposite sides of the plunger.
Plunger pumps can generate high suction pressures, up to 3,000 bar (43,000 psi) in some cases, but their flow rates are directly proportional to the speed of the pump. Conversely, the discharge pressure does not depend on speed, but rather on the design of the discharge piping. The plunger pumps are capable of pumping up to 90 % more efficiently thanks to these operational capabilities.
The small footprint of plunger pumps makes them ideal for applications where space is at a premium. These pumps are designed and operated in a way that allows them to handle virtually any kind of fluid, even corrosive or hazardous ones, which puts them in a prime position for use in fertilizer pumps.
Centrifugal pumps drive liquids with rotation, and the most common form is called a rotary positive displacement pump. In this type of pump, a liquid is pumped by forcing it through a rotating basket. When the basket rotates, the liquid flows past the basket into a chamber. The basket rotates again, and the liquid goes around and around.
This pressure, and the shape of the chamber, determine the amount of liquid that can be pumped. The higher the pressure, the harder the basket has to push. The higher the chamber’s cross-section, the more liquid it can hold.
The pump’s maximum flow rate depends on the pressure, the size of the chamber, and how fast the basket rotates. At low pressure, the basket spins slowly, so the flow rate is low. At high pressure, the basket spins faster, so the flow rate is higher.
Since fertilizer plants use a lot of water, and in most places, they get most of their water from the ground, a centrifugal pump can suck enough water to sustain the fertilization process. It is capable of working under harsh conditions and maintains enough pressure to keep the production chain running.
Agricultural food products will continue to depend on fertilizer to satisfy increasingly demanding standards of production, quality, and safety. By extension, pumps that are used in fertilizer production need to be reliable, efficient, and safe.
As the world’s population continues to grow, plunger pumps and centrifugal pumps can play an important role in meeting the feed needs of the constantly expanding population in the most efficient and safest way possible.