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A reciprocating or plunger pump is a type of positive displacement pump that operates by moving a plunger or piston back and forth within a cylinder to displace a specific volume of fluid. This type of pump is designed to handle high-pressure applications and is widely used in various industries for its precision and efficiency in moving fluids.

Working Principle

  1. Suction Stroke:

    • The plunger moves back, creating a vacuum in the pump chamber.

    • This vacuum causes the inlet valve to open, allowing the fluid to flow into the chamber from the inlet line.

  2. Discharge Stroke:

    • The plunger moves forward, increasing the pressure in the pump chamber.

    • The increased pressure forces the inlet valve to close and the discharge valve to open, pushing the fluid out of the pump and into the discharge line.

Key Components

  1. Plunger/Piston: The main moving component that creates a pressure differential to move the fluid.

  2. Cylinder: The chamber in which the plunger moves back and forth.

  3. Inlet and Discharge Valves: One-way valves that control the direction of fluid flow, ensuring that it moves from the inlet to the discharge.

  4. Packing/Seals: These prevent fluid from leaking past the plunger and maintain pressure within the system.

  5. Crankshaft: Converts the rotational motion from an engine or motor into the reciprocating motion of the plunger.

Types of Reciprocating Pumps

  1. Single-Acting Pump: Fluid is displaced in only one direction of the plunger’s movement.

  2. Double-Acting Pump: Fluid is displaced during both directions of the plunger’s movement, increasing the efficiency and flow rate.


  1. Oil and Gas Industry: For injecting chemicals, pumping oil, and hydraulic fracturing.

  2. Water Treatment: For dosing chemicals and high-pressure cleaning.

  3. Food and Beverage: In processes requiring precise and sanitary fluid handling.

  4. Chemical Processing: For transferring high-viscosity fluids or fluids that require high-pressure handling.

  5. Pharmaceuticals: For accurate dosing and handling of sensitive fluids.


  1. High Pressure Capability: Can achieve very high pressures, making them suitable for demanding applications.

  2. Precision: Capable of precise fluid handling, making them ideal for dosing and metering.

  3. Self-Priming: Can handle air and vapors, making them self-priming and capable of handling a variety of fluids.


  1. Complexity and Maintenance: More complex than some other pump types, leading to higher maintenance requirements.

  2. Pulsation: The nature of the reciprocating motion causes pulsating flow, which may require dampeners in certain applications.

  3. Size and Weight: Generally larger and heavier compared to other types of pumps with similar capacities.