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Types of pumps and classification

Tipi di pompe e classificazione

Pumps are machines that, through the energy supplied by a moving mechanical part, moves volumes of fluid continuously and/or discontinuously.

The first pumps appeared in the third century B.C., thanks to Archimedes, who designed a pump known as Archimedes’ Screw: his pump was able to move large quantities of fluid with low heads.
It is still used today in water treatment.

Around the same time another mechanism made its appearance, which was able to lift fluids with higher heads, up to 20/30 metres: the noria. Its operation is like a mill, where a waterway provides the fluid and the mechanical energy. The fluid was lifted with bucket-shaped containers.

Towards 1600, with the invention of the first connecting rod/handle systems, we have the plunger pumps, operated by hand.

With the arrival of steam and its use as a driving force, these type of pumps underwent a considerable improvement: now they were able to lift fluids from significant depths, so much so that they were also used in mines to drain underground pits.

Over the years the technological process has led to systems able to move large quantities of fluid with increasingly high heads.

The use of internal combustion engines and subsequently electric motors, has allowed for the development of rotary machines that could transform kinetic energy in pressure.


The different types of industrial pumps can be defined based on the way the energy is transmitted to the fluid:

– Alternating pumps (or PLUNGER pumps): they use an alternating straight movement of a mobile part (plunger); the plunger exerts a pressure on the fluid, transmitting the energy.

This category can be further differentiated:

  • alternating plunger pumps, where the movement is given to the fluid with a piston connected to a connecting rod-handle system
  • alternating diaphragm pumps, where the fluid is pumped by diaphragms driven by air or other systems

Centrifugal pumps (TURBOPUMPS): they use the fast rotating movement from a mobile part (ipeller); the impeller, due to the centrifugal effect, transfers the energy to the fluid.

This category can be further differentiated:

  • centrifugal pumps: the fluid enters axially in relation to the axis of the pump shaft and exits radially
  • axial centrifugal pumps: the fluid enters and exits axially in relation to the pump shaft
  • mixed centrifugal pumps: the flow is mixed in relation to the previous options above
  • pump with paddles

– Rotary pumps: they use a slow rotary movement from mobile parts (toothed wheels, lobes); the energy is transferred by exerting a pressure on the fluid, similarly to the plunger.

This category can be further differentiated: