Peristaltic Pumps —Not Just for Labs Anymore


Peristaltic Pumps are designed for many industries

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Non-contamination     Simple operation     Low maintenance     Tubing materials     Multimedia pumping capabilities     Cost-Effective operation     Pump application tips     Conclusion

Masterflex peristaltic pump

One of the fastest-growing types of positive displacement pumps on the market is the peristaltic pump. Once used exclusively in the lab, this pump has been transformed for use in process control, water treatment, and plant production. Yet, many people remain unfamiliar with this evolving pump technology and its advantages.

The popularity of the peristaltic pump—a.k.a. tubing pump—can be attributed to its design. An electric motor turns a set of rollers, which compress and release flexible tubing as they rotate. This squeezing action creates a vacuum that draws fluid through the tubing. Because the flexible tubing is the only wetted part, maintenance and cleanup are simple and convenient.

Non-contamination pumping system

The peristaltic pump creates a contamination-free pumping system. The fluid being pumped remains inside the tubing at all times and thus never comes in contact with any pump gears, seals, diaphragms, or other moving parts. As a result, finding a pump compatible with a particular solution is as simple as choosing a chemically compatible tubing.

Ismatec Reglo Digital 4-Channel 12-Roller Pump with MasterflexLive, 115/230 VAC

This makes peristaltic pumps ideal for transferring chemically aggressive or abrasive solutions as well as high-purity fluids. There is no need to worry about corrosion or wear and tear on parts, and no need to worry about contamination. Moreover, most types of pump tubing can be sterilized through autoclaving, gamma irradiation or ethylene oxide gas application, and most systems facilitate steam-in-place (SIP) and clean-in-place (CIP) techniques. This ensures complete sterility of the entire pump system with minimal cost.

Simple operation

Peristaltic pumps are simple to operate and easy to customize. They are self-priming, and many models have interchangeable pump heads that can be mounted in minutes using finger-tightened screws. Engineering advances have yielded designs that allow the tubing even in large process pumps to be loaded or replaced in seconds. In addition, most pumps feature simple controls, with a dial or keypad for speed control, and straightforward menus for programming more complex tasks.

Peristaltic pumps are low maintenance

Peristaltic pumps require very little maintenance beyond tubing replacement. Tubing must be replaced periodically to offset reduced flow performance. This procedure typically takes just seconds, which can be an advantage when using the same pump to transfer or dispense different chemicals. When solutions are changed, only the tubing needs to be changed, and the pump can be up and running within minutes.

Masterflex Handheld Remote Controller

In addition, many tubing pumps are designed with high Ingress Protection (IP) ratings, which means they can be hosed down for quick, thorough cleaning.

Pump tubing materials

Peristaltic pump systems are compatible with a wide range of tubing materials, including silicone, thermoplastics, Viton®, and even rigid PTFE. There are also formulations of bi-layer, or co-extruded tubing—such as the Masterflex® Chem-Durance™ tubing—in which a long-life tubing material is laid over a thinner inner material that is compatible with aggressive chemicals, resulting in a tubing whose collective properties in a pump exceed those of either material alone.

Many tubing types also meet United States Pharmacopoeia (USP), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and/or National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) agency requirements. This makes peristaltic pumps suitable for handling a variety of fluids, from sensitive cell cultures to industrial solvents, and allows the same pump to be used in multiple applications simply by changing the tubing.

Multimedia pumping capabilities

Masterflex Multimedia peristaltic pump from Cole-Parmer

In addition to generating enough suction to self-prime, peristaltic pumps create sufficient vacuum to successfully pump most viscous fluids—including those too heavy for other types of pumps. Yet, because these pumps employ a gentle pumping action that leaves solid components of the fluid, including cell walls and particulates, intact, they are excellent for moving sensitive fluids, slurries and suspended solids.

Peristaltic pumps are also used to move liquids, gases and mixed-phase fluids. If gas bubbles are present in the fluid stream (for instance, through outgassing from solution), they can be pumped right along with the liquid portion without any flow disruption. For this reason, peristaltic pumps also can run dry without damage.

Cost-effective operation

Peristaltic pumps are relatively inexpensive to operate. They are cost effective because they are easy to clean, they are effectively impervious to the most abusive, pump-damaging chemicals, and because the same pump can be used for multiple applications. This results in lower labor costs, lower maintenance costs, less downtime, and increased production.

Pump application tips

Peristaltic Pump System for Application

Because peristaltic pumps use flexible tubing, as the pressure inside the tube increases, the tube has a tendency to swell, pressing against the rollers and causing premature wear. To reduce wear, make sure the tubing is properly loaded in the pump head, and purchase only quality tubing. For example, PerfectPosition™ tubing, developed specifically for the Masterflex® B/T® process pump, is designed for high flowrates and has markings printed on the surface to facilitate optimal tubing alignment.

If you are having problems with the pulsation inherent in peristaltic pumping, it can be reduced by using a pump head that has more rollers, and thus produces less pulsation. A pulse dampener also helps.

Conclusion

Peristaltic pumps have become a critical and reliable part of processes ranging from chemical transfer to pharmaceutical processing to wastewater treatment. Their versatility and ease of use has helped them meet a multitude of fluid-handling challenges.