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Vacuum Pumps

You may think you know pretty much everything there is to know about vacuums. You push one around your house to pick up dust on the floor and that’s about all there is to it.

Far from it.

Vacuums are used in so many places, and for so many purposes, that it’s almost mind-boggling. Think of the package of yogurt you sometimes have in the morning. A vacuum was used to make that packaging and keep the yogurt fresh. You’ve had a soda before, right? Vacuum pumps are used to make those cans!

When paper is manufactured, the heavier loads are lifted and forwarded using vacuum pumps. In hospital rooms, there are bound to be vacuum pumps for various applications such as using suction during surgery.

And it is unfathomable for virtually any segment of the computer industry not to use a vacuum pump.

You would be hard-pressed to find an industry that doesn’t use vacuum pumps. They keep our food fresh and enhance our lives. They simplify, accelerate, and lower costs of manufacturing

This is a major and global growth market.

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How do vacuum pumps work?

Vacuum pumps are machines that remove gas molecules from a sealed volume to create a partial vacuum. Put another way, a vacuum pump is a pump used to create a vacuum. They are used to pull out air and gases from a sealed or confined space.

The vacuum pump works by removing air and other gases from the vacuum chamber.

Wet vs. Dry Vacuum Pumps

There are two types of vacuum pumps: the ‘wet’ kind, which is essentially a hydraulic pump, and the pneumatic, ‘dry’ variety.

  • Wet Vacuum Pump: This type uses a sealing liquid in the compression chamber for different reasons, including lubrication, oil, and sealing. The sealing liquid is typically oil or water. 
  • Dry Vacuum Pump: This type, as the name suggests, has a dry compression chamber.  In other words, no sealing liquid is used to aid in compression, thereby eliminating potential contamination of the process.
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Vacuum Pump Technologies

Rotary Vane Vacuum Pump: A rotary vane pump consists of sliding vanes mounted in a spinning rotor within a pump housing.  This rotor is offset, resulting in varying pockets sizes between the rotor and housing.  These pockets reduce in size traveling from the inlet side of the pump to the discharge side;  this creates suction of the gas from the connected process or chamber. 

Screw Vacuum Pump: Screw technology utilizes two mating screw rotors rotating in opposite directions.  A volume of gas is trapped between the screws and the housing at one end.  As the gas travels the length of the screws it is compressed and discharged on the opposite end.  Some advantages of this technology are reduced heat load, smoother operation, greater efficiency, and more turn-down capability.

Liquid Ring Vacuum Pump: Liquid ring vacuum pumps require a seal liquid to function; the most common liquid is water.  An eccentrically installed impeller rotates in the casing partly filled with liquid. By the rotational movement of the impeller, centrifugal force throws the liquid outward. Gas is trapped in the spaces between the impeller vanes and the liquid ring.  Due to the eccentric installation of the impeller, the spaces enlarge, and the process gas is sucked in through the inlet port.  As the impeller further rotates, the spaces shrink so the gas gets compressed and discharged through the discharge port.

Claw Vacuum Pump: This type consists of two claw-shaped rotors turned in opposite directions inside a housing. The interlocking shape of the rotors makes it possible for the air or gas to be drawn in at a large volume, compressed, and then discharged.  Due to the tight clearances, these pumps do not require liquid to seal and lubricate the vacuum pump.  This makes the claw vacuum extremely robust and able to withstand harsh operating conditions.

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What are other applications of vacuum pumps?

Food Packaging: The intent is (usually) to remove oxygen from the container to extend the shelf life of foods and, with flexible package forms, to reduce the volume of the contents and package. By reducing the oxygen residual contents, the growth of aerobic bacteria is limited and the shelf life can typically be extended by a factor of 5 to 10.

  • Additionally, vacuum packaging prevents evaporation of volatile components, protects the flavor and texture, and reduces freezer burn by protecting the food from the dry cold air.

Food Processing: Food processing includes all the transformation steps of raw ingredients into food or of food into other forms. The processing typically takes clean, harvested crops or butchered animal products and uses these to produce attractive, marketable and often long-shelf-life food products. Similar processes are used to produce animal feed.

Solar Processes: From silicon crystal pulling to the production of solar cells to the lamination of solar modules, these manufacturing processes are not possible without vacuum pumps.

Research and Development: vacuum technology plays an important role in many research fields such as high energy physics, space research, and material sciences.

Woodworking: helps with clamping, laminating and veneering, drying, or handling and lifting.

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