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Positive Displacement Two Screw Pumps


he two screw pump is a posi- FIGURE 1
tive displacement, rotary
screw type distinguished by
its high flow rate, suction lift
and differential pressure capa-
bilities (Figure 1). Based on a simple
design principle, these pumps operate
without internal contact between the
pumping elements. This enables them
to run dry and pump virtually any
fluid, regardless of its viscosity or
lubricity, and also gives them excel-
lent flexibility and longevity.
These rugged and versatile pumps
are especially well-suited for difficult
fluid handling situations and applica-
tions above 125 centistokes, where
their efficiency and cost advantages
are most apparent.
As a double-ended pump, fluid
enters the suction port and divides Cutaway view of a two screw pump
into left and right flow streams. The
fluid flows outward toward the ends
of the pump, joining the rotating the required large sealing surface ver rotation. No other valve or piping
screws. As the screws rotate, they area; a mechanical seal must be used changes are necessary. As a precau-
form chambers without contacting instead. Since these pumps are tion, make sure the mechanical seal
each other. These chambers capture designed for single-, double-,tandem-, and inlet flange ratings are sufficient
the incoming fluid and push it axially or cartridge-type seals, this is rarely a for the expected discharge pressure.
through, simultaneously pumping problem. Another distinguishing feature of
from left-to-center and right-to-center. The seals are on the suction side the two screw pump is its external
The flow streams develop pres- of the pump and, with some designs, timing gears. These transfer torque
sure as they approach each other. directly in the fluid flow stream. from one shaft to the other and time
They merge at the center and exit the With this arrangement, fluid flushes the pump screws. Timing the screws
discharge port at discharge pressure, and cools the seals as it flows around means adjusting the timing gear
like two opposing half-flow pumps on them, extending their service life in backlash to position one shaft/screw
a common shaft. the process. set relative to the other. When prop-
INTERNAL DESIGN The symmetrical two screw erly timed, the screws interlock with
The two screw pump consists of design results in screws balanced in uniform clearances between them
two shaft and screw assemblies. The the axial direction. Some manufactur- and with no physical contact. Timing
screws are integral with the shafts or ers also balance the shafts and screws gears are at the inboard or outboard
separate and attached during pump radially, so that only the hydraulic end of the pump, depending on the
assembly, depending on the manufac- forces (during high-pressure opera- manufacturer. They have their own
turer. The bearings are oil or grease tion) are significant. As a result, the lube oil reservoir and rarely require
lubricated and separate from the fluid mean time between failure of the external lubrication or cooling.
being pumped. Some manufacturers bearings and seals often exceeds two CASING MATERIALS AND OPTIONS
also offer an internal bearing (i.e., years. By operating at standard driver
bearings exposed to the fluid). speeds, the space, cost and mainte- Casings are available in cast or
However, this design requires clean nance of speed reducers are also nodular iron, bronze, cast or welded
fluids with some lubricity and has avoided. steel and various grades of stainless
limited flow and differential pressure With symmetrical screws and steel. For dirty fluid applications
capability. casings, bi-directional pumping is some manufacturers offer hard-face
Beyond a certain shaft diameter, possible. The suction and discharge coated casing bores and chrome- or
soft packing cannot be used due to lines are reversed by shifting the dri- stellite-coated screw outside diame-
The Pump Handbook Series 5
ters (ODs). Some also have a replace-
able casing liner to offset wear.
Screws and shafts are typically
made of cast or nodular iron, bronze
and various stainless steels, but they
are available in other materials.
When selecting screw and shaft mate-
rials, make sure they are compatible
with both the application and the
pump casing or liner material.
Two screw pumps are also avail-
able with cartridge-type inserts, safe-
ty relief valves and integral heating
jackets. A cartridge insert makes it
possible to remove the shafts, screws,
liner, gears, bearings and seals as one
unit. The entire pump can then be
inspected quickly without disturbing
the piping system or driver.
Relief valves protect the pump
from over-pressurization by diverting
discharge flow to the suction side of
the pump. These valves are not for
continual flow or pressure regulation, A multiphase two screw pump
and are usually for one-direction flow
only, although bi-directional valves
are available. centerline to reduce sufficiently the fewer chambers mean less differen-
For high temperature fluids, NPSH Required. tial pressure capability. Most two
heating jackets are used with steel A second mounting option is screw pumps can develop 150 psi per
and stainless steel pumps. The jack- vertical with in-line suction and dis- chamber.
ets are either a partial or full type, charge connections. The casing is
and steam or hot oil is usually the symmetrical about its vertical cen- PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISTICS
heating medium. Full-heating jackets terline, permitting suction or dis- For any positive displacement
encompass the entire pump casing, charge connection on either side. pump, output flow is only marginally
as well as the relief valve passages The connections are also above the affected by discharge pressure. The
(when provided) and mechanical screw set horizontal centerline to output flow of the two screw pump is
seals. Some manufacturers offer par- prevent air entrapment and vapor a function of the pump geometry
tial-heating jackets and electric locking of the upper screw set. (screw diameter, screw pitch and
immersion-type heating coils for internal clearances), rotational speed,
applications not requiring full-pump SELECTING A PUMP viscosity and the differential pressure
casing heating. These alternatives Two screw pumps are sized for across the pump. Clearances in the
save the expense of a full-heating an application based on their casing, pump exist between the screw OD
jacket while providing sufficient shaft, and screw diameter sizes. and casing ID, between the screw
heat for a trouble-free start. Casing size is based on the screw OD and adjoining shaft root diameter
MOUNTING OPTIONS and shaft diameters. Screw diame- OD, and between adjoining screw
ters vary from 50 to 400 mm. After flanks. These clearances are areas of
Two screw pumps can be selecting a screw diameter, choose potential leakage, or slip, paths for
mounted in several ways. The most the screw pitch and speed to fine the higher discharge pressure to
common is horizontally with side tune the flow, pressure, and viscosi- cause some fluid to flow backwards
inlet and side or top discharge con- ty requirements. toward the lower pressure suction
nections. The casing is usually sym- The screw pitch is the axial dis- end.
metrical about its vertical centerline tance a screw travels as it rotates Flow equations vary among
with the inlet flange centerline above through one full revolution, ranging manufacturers, but all follow the
the screw set centerline. This keeps from 10 to 300 mm. As the screw basic form:
the screws wetted after a shutdown pitch increases, so does the size of the
so the pump can reprime quicker on pumping chamber. This increases the
Qactual = Qtheoretical – Qslip
subsequent restarts. It also protects flow per revolution but also means Qtheoretical = AN [D]2
the seals from dry running during fewer chambers fit in the pump.
priming, tank stripping or suction line Qslip = B [∆P]1/2 [1/ν]1/3
evacuations. Other designs place the Since differential pressure capability
is related to the number of chambers, Qactual = AN [D]2 – B [∆P]1/2 [1/ν]1/3
inlet centerline below the vertical
6 The Pump Handbook Series



Efficiency (%)
























Vicosity (Centistoke)

Typical two screw pump efficiency curves

where cal losses. Mechanical losses in a two A second benchmark of two
Q is the flow rate screw pump result from the viscous screw pump performance is mechani-
A is the screw pitch drag of the rotating screws and the cal efficiency, comparing the theoreti-
N is the pump speed friction of the seals, bearings and tim- cal to actual power requirements.
D is the screw OD ing gears. Equations for determining Mechanical efficiency is defined as:
B is an empirical flow slip factor power requirements follow the gener-
∆P is the differential pressure al form:
ν is the fluid viscosity ηmechanical = Wtheoretical
Wactual = Wtheoretical + Wlosses
As flow slip increases, the total Wtheoretical = C [Qtheoretical] ∆P [Wtheoretical + Wlosses]
output flow decreases. The volumet- Wlosses = F [N]4/3 ln[n] = Wtheoretical
ric efficiency, a key performance Wactual
benchmark, decreases as well. Wactual = ∆P[Qtheoretical][C]
Volumetric efficiency is defined as: +F [N]4/3 ln[n]
ηvol = [Qtheoretical – Qslip] Mechanical efficiencies range
Qtheoretical where from 60 to 90% and are typically from
= Qactual W is the power required 70 to 80%.
Qtheoretical C is a power conversion factor A third measure of pump perfor-
Q is the theoretical flow rate mance is overall efficiency, measuring
Two screw pump volumetric overall performance and defined as:
efficiencies range from 70 - 97% and ∆P is the differential pressure
ηoverall = [Qactual Wtheoretical]
are typically from 85 - 95%. F is a friction loss factor
Theoretical power is a function of N is the pump speed [Qtheoretical Wactual]
the flow rate and differential pressure ln is the natural logarithm = [ηvol] [ηmechanical]
across the pump. The actual power
required is the theoretical power plus ν is the fluid viscosity
the power to overcome the mechani-
The Pump Handbook Series 7
Overall efficiencies range Two screw pumps can handle • Low shear transferring in chemi-
between 55 to 75%. Typically they some abrasives, but are not specifical- cal plants.
are from 65 to 70%. ly designed for dirty liquid services. • Feeding polymers and resins to
Figure 2 shows the typical volu- If sand or solids are present, their extruders, mixing tanks and pel-
metric, mechanical and overall effi- size, hardness, and size distribution letizers.
ciency curves for a two screw pump. must be known. If the solids are soft,
Another advantage of two screw or consistently small enough to pass • Pumping multi-phase fluids with
pumps is their high suction lift capa- through the screw/casing clearances gas volume fractions as high as
bility. The Net Positive Suction Head (typically 1 to 2 mm), their contribu- 100%.
Required (NPSHR) is a function of tion to pump wear will be small. In • Stripping operations in storage
the viscosity and axial velocity all cases, a 1/8” to 1/4” perforation tanks and tank cleaning opera-
through the pump. Equations for cal- suction strainer should be used. tions.
culating two screw pump NPSHR fol- One emerging application for
low the general form: two screw pumps is multi-phase flow • Liquefied coal/water slurry trans-
pumping (Photo 1). This is a benefit port.
NPSHR = 5.0 + K1[Va]2 + K2 [Va]3/2 to oil and gas producers operating in • Any large volume or difficult
[ν]1/2 remote areas, where a water/oil/gas transfer application.
where mixture can be moved by a single
K1 and K2 are empirical adjusting pump to a downstream separation
factors and processing center, rather than SUMMARY
Va is the fluid axial velocity doing it on site. Some pumps can Over the last 60 years the two
ν is the fluid viscosity
even handle gas volume fractions up screw pump has been a heavy-duty,
to 100%, making them a compressor dependable fluid transfer pump. Its
Like the flow and power equa- as much as a pump. gentle, low shear pumping and com-
tions, these equations originate from Because of their simple design, patibility with a wide range of fluids
classic fluid dynamic theory. few moving parts and lack of any distinguish it from other pump types.
Manufacturers then modify them to internal contact of wearing parts, two Few pumps can match its design
coincide with their experiences and screw pumps have many applica- features, materials and mounting
test stand measurements. tions: arrangements. Often considered one
• Gathering and boosting on off- of the pump world’s best-kept
APPLICATIONS shore platforms and crude oil secrets, the external bearing two
One result of the pump’s low pipelines. screw pump is a high-quality solution
fluid velocities is laminar flow (i.e., • Off-loading viscous products to a variety of problems. ■
NRe < 2000) when handling viscous from barges and ocean-going ves-
fluids. This makes it a low fluid- sels. Robert A. Platt is President of
shearing pump and ideal for poly- • Transfer and blending in refiner- Bornemann Pumps Inc., Monroe, NC.
mers, emulsions and other ies, tank farms, and petrochemi-
shear-sensitive fluids. cal plants.

8 The Pump Handbook Series