What Are Drum Pumps?

What is a Drum Pump?

Portable drum pumps are specifically designed to efficiently and safely transfer fluids from large drums, barrels, or storage tanks to more convenient containers. Also called barrel pumps, they have many different configurations and designs, depending on the type and size of the container, the on-site power supply, and the type of fluids that need to be pumped. Many types of liquids in processing and manufacturing plants are delivered in large, one hundred or two hundred litre barrels that are too heavy to safely tip over when transferring the contents to where it is needed. Drum pumps allow media from these large barrels to be transferred to smaller, more convenient containers in an effective and safe way.

How does a Drum Pump work?

A drum pump consists of a motor section, a pump section, and an immersion tube. The motor is situated outside the container on top of the immersion tube. The length of the immersion tube must be long enough to reach the bottom of the container. The immersion tube is made to fit through the opening at the top of the container and is often sealed to the opening.

At the lower end of the immersion, the tube is the pump section that contains the pump. The pump is driven by an extended shaft which is protected by a sealed column at the other end of the immersion tube.
The liquid is pumped to flow between the tube and the sleeve to a discharge point situated at the other end of the immersion tube where the motor is located.
Different tube lengths that cater to various container depths are available and the different types of material constructions that need to be pumped.

  • Drum pumps designed for fluids with a low- or medium viscosity generally use extended centrifugal pumps that have single or double or even multiple impellers. The liquid is moved up the tube by the impeller’s rotation to the top of the immersion tube to a discharge port.
  • Positive displacement Flux Pumps are used for medium viscosity fluids. For fluids up to 2000cP, a PTFE screw-type lifting compressor is often used. Typical fluids include paints, inks, food products, and solvents.
  • A progressive cavity pump design is more suitable for higher viscosities of up to 100,000cP. Typical high viscosity fluids include oils, solvents, resins, waxes, gear lube, adhesives, silicone, glycerine, polymers, lotions, juice concentrates, honey, corn syrup, hair and bath gels, etc. Other options are available for FDA-compliant materials.

What are the main features of a Drum Pump?

Several components of a drum pump as well as the outer pump tube material will come into contact with the fluid being pumped. It is therefore essential that these parts are corrosion resistant. If the pumped fluid is combustible or flammable it is important to ensure that it is used at a safe operating temperature.
Pump tubes and parts are generally made of polypropylene, PVDF, 316 stainless steel, CPVC, or pure polypropylene.
There is a wide range of wetted materials available that are resistant to chemical corrosion in most environments. Many manufacturers offer a wide range of immersion tubes at different lengths and interchangeable motors to allow drum pumps to be customised for different container depths and operating environments. Motors are generally easy to disconnect for use with another pump tube if required.

Air-powered motors are available for sites where there is no electrical supply. Drum pumps can be easily disassembled in the field to replace individual parts.

Where power supplies are unavailable, hand-operated pumps can be used. Hand pumps are often used to prime other pumps or equipment on large engines.

The length of the tube is determined by the size of the container. As an example, a 100cm tube will be required for a standard 200-litre or 45-gallon drum. Shorter lengths are required for smaller containers of 15 to 30 gallons. Longer tubes will be required for tanks and IBCs.