Submersible pump

Submersible pump

A submersible pump is a pump which has a hermetically sealed motor close-coupled to the pump body. The whole assembly is submerged in the fluid to be pumped. The advantage of this type of pump is that it can provide a significant lifting force as it does not rely on external air pressure to lift the fluid.

Working principle

A system of mechanical seals are used to prevent the fluid being pumped from entering the motor and causing a short circuit. The pump can either be connected to a pipe, flexible hose or lowered down guide rails or wires so that the pump sits on a "ducks foot" coupling, thereby connecting it to the delivery pipework.


Submersible pumps are found in many applications, single stage pumps are used for drainage, sewage pumping, general industrial pumping and slurry pumping. They are also popular with aquarium filters. Multiple stage submersible pumps are typically lowered down a borehole and used for water abstraction or in water wells.

ESP usage in oil wells

Submersible pumps are also used in oil wells. By decreasing the pressure at the bottom of the well (by lowering bottomhole flowing pressure, or increasing drawdown), significantly more oil can be produced from the well compared to natural production. This makes Electric Submersible Pumping (ESP) a form of "artificial lift" (as opposed to natural flow) along with Gas Lift, Beam Pumping, Plunger Lift and Progressive cavity pump. New varieties of ESP can include a water/oil separator which permits the water to be reinjected into the reservoir without the need to lift it to the surface.

The ESP system consists of a number of components that turn a staged series of centrifugal pumps to increase the pressure of the well fluid and push it to the surface. The energy to turn the pump comes from a high-voltage (3 to 5 kV) alternating-current source to drive a special motor that can work at high temperatures of up to 300 °F (150 °C) and high pressures of up to 5000 lb/in² (34 MPa), from deep wells of up to 12000 feet (3.7 km) deep with high energy requirements of up to about 1000 horsepower (750 kW). ESPs have dramatically lower efficiencies with significant fractions of gas, greater than about 10% volume at the pump intake. Given their high rotational speed of up to 4000 rpm (67 Hz) and tight clearances, they are not very tolerant of solids such as sand.

Special attention to the type of ESP is required when using certain types of liquids. ESP's commonly used on board naval vessels cannot be used to dewater contaminated flooded spaces. These use a 440 volt A/C motor that operates a small centrifugal pump. It can also be used out of the water, taking suction with a 2-1/2 inch non-collapsible hose. The pumped liquid is circulated around the motor for cooling purposes. There is a possibility that the gasoline will leak into the pump causing a fire or destroying the pump, so hot water and flammable liquids should be avoided.

ee also

* Oil well
* Centrifugal pump

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