Water pumps are the most common pump variety, with the capability to transport water that’s free of oils, large contaminants, and suspended solids. When you need to move slurries from wastewater or production sites, however, you’ll need a more robust tool. 

Slurry pumps, also known as sludge pumps, are specially built to pump liquid with suspended solids or solvents of various compositions. Equipment that pumps slurry must have the power and proper components to handle viscous and abrasive media that water pumps cannot.

What Is Slurry?

Slurry is a broad term for any liquid that contains suspended material, regardless of the substance amount or thickness. Some slurries are highly viscous, while others are thin and watery; other slurries have large, suspended solids. Even temperature and corrosiveness can differ from one slurry to another. From cement and wastewater to paint and even foods like soup, slurries require different handling processes and equipment based on slurry type. Some of the most common slurries include:

  • Soil slurry. Soil slurry consists of dirt, mud, rock, sand, and other soil particulates mixed with water to facilitate their movement.
  • Coal slurry. Produced following the burning of coal for energy production, this toxic slurry is commonly made up of removed water and waste byproducts like fly ash.
  • Pulp slurry. Paper and wood product manufacturers produce a slurry of water, solvents, and wood pulp.
  • Manure slurry. A slurry of animal waste and other organic material ages within a slurry pit and, once concentrated, has agricultural applications as fertilizer.
  • Wastewater. Wastewater is water that people have already used and therefore contains contaminants.
  • Sewage sludge. Wastewater treatment produces sewer sludge, a semisolid byproduct.
  • Chemical slurry. With applications in chemical mechanical planarization, this abrasive liquid has corrosive properties.
  • Slurry oil. Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) in refineries generates a slurry oil byproduct that makes up a portion of the world’s supply of fuel oil.
  • Food processing slurry. This slurry is composed of varying solid foods in a liquified form.

Given the many different slurry varieties, a specialized pump is often necessary for successfully transporting this media.

Water Pumps vs. Slurry Pumps

Water pumps are built to handle flowable streams of water with a consistent makeup. These components have the capacity to redistribute bodies of water on a massive scale but are very limited in the media they can successfully transport. While some pumps have the added capabilities of handling high-temperature water streams, they don’t have the ability to withstand damage from caustic and corrosive fluids nor the high-performance hydraulics for handling viscous slurries and liquids with suspended solids.

Slurry pumps come in a wide range of capabilities and designs to pump fluids with more varied consistencies than hot water and oil. While they’re extremely durable for their anticipated applications, slurry pump parts are easy to replace when necessary, and also powerful enough to generate the force needed for pumping. Some of the fluid materials they handle include alcohols and acids, sand and gravel, petroleum, and other abrasive liquids or solids that affect the thickness, composition, and corrosiveness of the stream.

Pumps for Different Media

As you select the right equipment for pumping slurries at your facility, it’s best to understand the composition and viscosity of the slurry the pump will need to transport. True liquids are simpler than abrasive media or those containing solids, and using the right slurry pump will enhance a device’s performance and efficiency while ensuring it can handle abrasive substances, unlike other pump products that would sustain damage from coarse media. Examples of common media and their respective optimal pumps include:

  • Water. With low viscosity, water slurry is easy for both centrifugal and pneumatic pumps to transport.
  • Slurries and abrasives. Containing solid deposits, these media necessitate a heavy-duty slurry or peristaltic hose pump with the power to transport them and the durability to resist abrasion.

Partner With GATOR Pump

Whatever the slurry or liquid you need to move, GATOR Pump, Inc. can help. For 40 years, we’ve constructed and customized our steel-manufactured submersible slurry pumps and other pump products for superior performance, high solid-handling capabilities, longevity, and low operating costs. To learn more or request a quote, contact us today through our online form, by email, or by phone at 1-800-735-9811.

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