Slurry Pump: What is it, and how does it work

  • Slurry Pump: What is it, and how does it workPumps designed for pumping slurries will be heavier duty than those designed for less viscous liquids since slurries are heavy and difficult to pump.Slurry Pumps are typically larger in size than standard pumps, with more horsepower, and built with more rugged bearings and shafts. The most common type of slurry pump is the centrifugal pump. These pumps use a rotating impeller to move the slurry, similar to how a water-like liquid would move through a standard centrifugal pump.

    Centrifugal pumps optimized for slurry pumping will generally feature the following in comparison to standard centrifugal pumps:

    • Larger impellers made with more material. This is to compensate for wear caused by abrasive slurries.

    These conditions include:

    • A low slurry flow rate

    • A high head (i.e., the height to which the pump can move liquid)

    • A desire for greater efficiency than that afforded by centrifugal pumps

    • Improved flow control

    Common types of positive displacement pumps used in slurry pumping applications include:

    Rotary Lobe pumps

    These pumps use two meshing lobes rotating within a pump’s housing to move fluids from the pump’s inlet to its outlet.

    Twin-screw pumps

    These pumps employ rotating screws to move liquids and solids from one end of the pump to another. The screws’ turning action creates a spinning motion that pumps material.

    Diaphragm pumps

    These pumps use a flexible membrane that expands the volume of the pumping chamber, bringing in fluid from an inlet valve and then discharging it through an outlet valve.

    Selecting and operating a slurry pump

    Choosing the right pump for your slurry application can be a complex task due to the balance of many factors including flow, pressure, viscosity, abrasiveness, particle size, and particle type. An applications engineer, who knows how to take all of these factors into account, can be a great help in navigating the many pump options available.

    In determining which type of slurry pump is best suited for your particular application, follow these four simple steps.

    A Beginner’s Guide To Pumping Slurry

    Slurry is one of the most challenging fluids to move. It’s highly abrasive, thick, sometimes corrosive, and contains a high concentration of solids. No doubt about it, slurry is tough on pumps. But selecting the right pump for these abrasive applications can make all the difference in the long-term performance.


    Slurry is any mixture of fluid and fine solid particles. Examples of slurries would include: manure, cement, starch, or coal suspended in water. Slurries are used as a convenient way to handle solids in mining, steel processing, foundries, power generation, and most recently, the Frac Sand mining industry.

    Slurries generally behave the same way as thick, viscous fluids, flowing under gravity, but also pumped as needed. Slurries are divided into two general categories: non-settling or settling.

    Non-settling slurries consist of very fine particles, which give the illusion of increased apparent viscosity. These slurries usually have low wearing properties, but do require very careful consideration when selecting the right pump because they do not behave in the same manner as a normal liquid does.

    Settling slurries are formed by coarse particles that tend to form an unstable mixture. Particular attention should be given to flow and power calculations when selecting a pump. The majority of slurry applications are made up of coarse particles and because of this, have higher wear properties.

    Below are common characteristics of slurries:

    • Abrasive

    • Thick consistency

    • Can contain a high amount of solids

    • Usually settle quickly

    • Require more power to operate than a “water” pump


    Many types of pumps are used for pumping slurries, but the most common slurry pump is the centrifugal pump. The centrifugal slurry pump uses the centrifugal force generated by a rotating impeller to impact kinetic energy to the slurry, similar to how a water-like liquid would move through a standard centrifugal pump. 

    Slurry applications greatly reduce the expected wear life of pumping components. It’s critical that pumps designed for these heavy-duty applications are selected from the start. Consider the following when making selections:


    To ensure the pump will hold up against abrasive wear, the impeller size/design, material of construction, and discharge configurations must be properly selected.

    Open impellers are the most common on slurry pumps because they’re the least likely to clog. Closed impellers on the other hand are the most likely to clog and the most difficult to clean if they clog.

    Slurry impellers are large and thick. This helps them operate longer in harsh slurry mixtures.


    Slurry pumps are generally larger in size when compared to low-viscosity liquid pumps and usually require more horsepower to operate because they’re less efficient. Bearings and shafts must be more rugged and rigid as well.

    To protect the pump’s casing from abrasion, slurry pumps are oftentimes lined with metal or rubber.

    Metal casings are composed of hard alloys. These casings are built to withstand the erosion caused by increased pressure and circulation.

    The casings are selected to suit the needs of the application. For instance, pumps used in cement production handle fine particles at low pressures. Therefore, a light construction casing is acceptable. If the pump is handling rocks, the pump casing and impeller will need a thicker and stronger casing.


    Those with experience pumping slurries know it’s not an easy task. Slurries are heavy and difficult to pump. They cause excessive wear on pumps, their components, and are known to clog suction and discharge lines if not moving fast enough.

    It’s a challenge to make slurry pumps last for a reasonable amount of time. But, there are a few things you can do to extend the life of your slurry pump and make pumping slurry less of a challenge.

    • Find the sweet spot that allows the pump to run as slow as possible (to reduce wear), but fast enough to keep solids from settling and clogging the lines

    • To reduce wear, lower the pump’s discharge pressure to the lowest point possible

    • Follow proper piping principles to ensure a constant and uniform delivery of the slurry to the pump

    Pumping slurries poses several challenges and problems, but with proper engineering and equipment selection, you can experience many years of worry-free operation. It’s important to work with a qualified engineer when selecting a slurry pump because slurries can wreak havoc on a pump if not properly selected.


Post time: Feb-14-2023