Hydraulics Pump, Power Equation

The motor power required to drive a pump is determined by the pump capacity and working pressure. From expression 1.6:


In Figure 2.3, a pump forces fluid along a pipe of area A against a pressure P, moving fluid a distance d in time T. The force is PA, which, when substituted into expression 2.1, gives:


Unfortunately, expression 2.2 is specified in impractical SI units (pressure in pascal, time in seconds, flow in cubic metres). We may adapt the expression to use more practical units (pressure in bar, flow rate in litres min -1) with the expression:



For Imperial systems (pressure in psig, flow rate in gallons min-1), the expression becomes:


For fully Imperial systems, motor power in horsepower can be found from:


Hydraulic pumps such as that in Figure 2.1 do not require priming because fluid flows, by gravity, into the pump inlet port. Not surprisingly this is called a self-priming pump. Care must be taken with this arrangement to avoid sediment from the tank being drawn into the pump.

The pump in Figure 2.4 is above the fluid in the tank. The pump creates a negative (less than atmospheric) pressure at its inlet port causing fluid to be pushed up the inlet pipe by atmospheric pressure. This action creates a fluid lift which is, generally, incorrectly described as arising from pump suction. In reality fluid is pushed into the pump.


Maximum pump lift is determined by atmospheric pressure and is given by expressions 1.3 and 1.4. In theory a lift of about 8 m is feasible but, in practice, would be accompanied by undesirable side effects such as cavitation (formation and destructive collapse of bubbles from partial vaporisation of fluid). The lift should be as small as possible and around 1 m is a normal practical limit.

Fluid flow in the inlet line always takes place at negative pressure, and a relatively low flow velocity is needed to reduce these side effects. The design should aim for a flow velocity of around 1 m s -1. Examination of any hydraulic system will always reveal pump inlet pipes of much larger diameters than outlet pipes.

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