The World of Pumps: A Brief History and How They Play a Role in Industry Today

Four blue industrial pumps are aligned next to each other in an industrial warehouse.

Most people might not give it a second thought. And yet, pumps are the workhorses of industry and are used in many different applications in a wide range of industries. Industrial pumps will be used in oil and gas, petrochemical, food and beverage, and chemical processing industries. At their most basic, pumps help move liquid or air from one place to another. We thought we would take a look at how the pumps came to be. 

Hydraulic pumps help move the liquid through its many components including the motor, cylinders, which then become pressurized. With the use of valves, we control the flow of the liquid. These are necessary parts of many industries. 

Modern Applications 

The pump is a utilitarian machine that generates high levels of pressure. Many pumps can generate pressure that goes up to 800 psi, these are known as high-pressure industrial pumps. When it comes to industrial supplies of pumps, these machines serve a variety of industries like:

  • Water treatment, food, and the chemical industry use the centrifugal pump, as they are used for transferring and moving liquids. 
  • Oil and gas industry. Container pumps, for example, are often used in this area because they are used specifically for moving dangerous, highly flammable, and toxic liquids. These pumps will be constructed of stainless steel for durability and to prevent corrosion. 
  • The processing of cosmetics, foods, perfumes, chemicals, etc. Drum pumps are good in their efficiency to not waste any liquids. They too are made out of stainless steel or polypropylene. These are often used for flammable liquids as well. 

Today’s advanced and highly durable pumps and pumping systems make it easy to do heavy-duty jobs that would otherwise be very difficult to do with just human power. They are useful in both domestic and commercial applications and make it easy to do jobs like waste management and the transferring of highly flammable or toxic liquids. 

The Early Versions — Pumping Water for Drinking and More 

The very early versions of pumps came courtesy of the Egyptians, who developed early versions. One was a contraption that used a long suspended rod with a bucket on one end and a weight on the other.  Then came the pump with valves at the bottom, a tank of water in the middle, and a row of pipes on the top. This was the early version of early reciprocating pumps. Reciprocating pumps use pressure to the required application. 

Archimedes, the famous Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer, also had his contribution when it came to the pump. This is the screw pump, which was and is considered a great invention of its time. It’s still used today for many uses including pumping liquids and granulated solids. These kinds of pumps have a spindle that is responsible for the action of the pump. It is a positive displacement pump that can be built with several screws. 

It was about 1593 when the gear pump was introduced. After that, there were several advancements that continued the idea of the gear pump. The rotary gear pump, for example, is still used to lubricate engines. This gear pump was improved on by the German engineer named Pappenheim. 

Let’s fast forward then to the 18th century. The inventor of the steam engine, James Watt, made it possible to convert the piston’s reciprocating motion into rotary motion. In the next couple of decades, the pump would continue to improve. There would be improvements on harnessing steam power to pump engines for municipal water applications. The screw pump will also be improved. Soon, the world’s first all-metal pump is made. 

Pumps into the 20th Century 

As the industrial age comes upon the West, the pump is also changed with it. The Companie Siemens files for the first German patent for liquid ring vacuum pumps and compressors.  Then, there is the turbine pump. With the growth of factories and steel mills, there is the invention of the world’s first line of reciprocating positive displacement pumps. 

The New York Times building installs two Goulds triplex pumps. This accomplishes the highest lifting of water to date. Water goes up to 387 feet. All throughout the 20th century, new types of pumps and pumping systems are invented, as industry and manufacturing grow. 

Pumping During the War and Beyond 

During World War II, when engineering advancements were at high speed, Goulds extra-quiet trim pumps are installed in every US Navy submarine. Because of the war effort, 157 men that worked at the factory went to war and were replaced by 157 women on the manufacturing floor. That year, Goulds won the war for outstanding production of war materials. 

Not long after, in 1954, the world’s first atomic-powered submarine was equipped with Ingersoll-Rand boiler-feed pumps and compressors. 

Choose the Experts in Industrial Supply and Pump Away

Here at Wisco Supply, we provide the most comprehensive and extensive service for private industry and the government sector. We are here to answer your questions regarding our services and supplies. Give us a call today!