For some reason, ever since I have been involved with HVAC, I’ve
always had this kind of soft spot for pumps. I guess part of
that could be because they are a very common component in the
systems and subsystems that help keep our buildings comfortable and
safe. And it may also be because some of my first experiences
with troubleshooting and testing HVAC systems were centered around
pumps with Phil Sutherlin, Jim Brooks, and Bud Wieczorek sharing
their knowledge with me regarding pump theory, testing and
operation. What ever the reason for my nerdy
affection, I was really excited several years ago to discover that
there is an initiative called Pump
The initiative has its roots in a manufacturer’s survey that
discovered that 60 percent of all pumps are improperly applied. Of
those, 90 percent are not specified for the proper operating
point. Thus, the proper selection and application of
pumps was targeted as a rich field for improving the efficiency of
our building and process systems and the Pump Systems Matter
initiative was formed to support the effort.
By going to the Pump Systems Matter website, you can avail
yourself of a number of very useful, free resources.
One is Pumps and Systems magazine, a free
publication that you can receive digitally or in paper form by
simply completing the on line subscription
form. The distribution e-mail for the
current issue, which arrived in my in box just the other day and is
pictured below, will give you a feel for the typical
content. I always find something of interest and an
opportunity to learn in every issue.
The site also has a link to a growing number of
energy saving tip sheets targeted at improving
pumping system efficiency. The cover page from one of them,
illustrated below, walks you through the impeller trim process, one
of the first pump optimization strategies I learned about when I
first entered the industry.
You can also link to a
no-cost download of the
source book Improving Pump System Performance (pictured
below), which among other things, discusses pump system
basics,performance improvement opportunities, and the economics of
improving pumping systems.
You can also down load the
Pump System Improvement Modeling Tool, a no-cost
subset of a sophisticated network analysis tool that will allow you
to gain insights into the interactions of flow and head in a
pumping system and also model simple systems. The screen shot
below illustrates the model I built of the hypothetical water
feature illustrated in the diagram.
I use the model for illustrative purposes in a class I teach,
but I can tell you from personal experience that downloading the
tool and applying it once or twice, while a bit intimidating at
first, will provide a great education regarding the
physics of pumps and hydraulic systems. And, in my
experience, tools like this are not just design tools. They
can also be used by facilities operators and engineers to model an
existing system and troubleshoot problems, assess the impact of
proposed modifications, and play “what if?” games.
So, take a few minutes to check out the Pump Systems Matter
initiative. Who knows, you may discover that you too have a
soft spot in your heart for these workhorses in our industry.