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API Process Pumps

What is an API process pump?

A type of pump designed to meet the American Petroleum Institute (API) 610 standard for pumps handling hydrocarbons. They come in many different forms and may employ a number of pumping mechanisms.

The API 610 standard is limited to centrifugal pumps, but API process pumps come in many different configurations. They may be end suction pumps, horizontal split case pumps, multistage pumps, vertical inline pumps, or vertical turbine pumps. They are specifically designed and certified for use in the petroleum industry to handle oil, gasoline, and other hydrocarbons. However, because the API 610 standard is a very conservative standard and insures a very robust design, other industries sometimes use API pumps.

How do they work?

The pumps are build to handle hydrocarbons at extremely high pressures and temperatures, which will burn or explode if they are inadvertently released. Therefore, the number one priority in the design and manufacturering is integrity of the pump casing, to prevent release of hydrocarbons. Also, the consequences of the failure of one of these pumps can be significant to the owner in terms of lost production. All of this means that these pumps are designed very conservatively when it comes to casing thickness, flange design, weldments, allowable shaft deflection, bearing design, etc.

There are certain pump types that are not allowable by API 610, such as close coupled centrifugal pumps, because these are not conservatively enough designed or will not accommodate the high temperatures and pressures that API pumps see.

They often include explosion proof motors, and are robust enough not to require frequent servicing. They are always supplied with closed impellers, and the wear rings on these impellers must be pinned or welded to the impellers, to make sure they don’t slip off due to differential thermal expansion. These pumps are designed to be supported at the pump centerline rather than by feet below the casing, so that they will expand uniformly about the centerline as they are subjected to high temperatures.

Where are they used?

API pumps are primarily found in refineries, but they are also often specified for oil production, pipelines, and for other hydrocarbon processing facilities. And, they are sometimes chosen by other industries that are looking for a very conservative, robust design, such as the power industry.

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