Plastic Centrifugal Pumps for Lithium Production
Plastic pumps have to stand up to a lot when it comes to industrial applications. Full plastic centrifugal pumps, like those of MUNSCH, play a key role in lithium production – the very raw material that is driving our smart, mobile world.
Large amount of lithium can be found in many of the dried-up salt lakes of the South American Andes. However, a lithium content of only 0.2 to 7 mg/l requires processing of large amounts of brine. This is why the extraction process takes place on site. Sodium, magnesium, potassium, boron, chlorides and sulfates have to be extracted before the lithium can be precipitated and shipped onto the world’s markets.
What do plastic pumps have to do with my smart phone?
There is a number of challenges included for pumps in the extraction process:
Due to the high chloride content the brine is extremely corrosive. From an economical point of view there is no way around plastic pumps. At 3,500 to 4,500 meters above sea level the atmospheric pressure drops more than 40%. Centrifugal pumps must prove a superior suction behavior (NPSHR) under these circumstances to avoid damage from continuous cavitation.
Large amounts of salt require large amounts of brine, require large pumps (> 1000 m³/h). In addition, the extraction process requires pressures up to 8 bar. Only the highest quality pumps can keep up to these requirements and cope with the rough alpine climate where temperatures can drop down to -25°C.
You might have guessed – there is no pre-installed power socket on every site. All the electricity needed has to be produced locally. This leads to a very strict energy saving regime and only pumps with superior efficiency are qualified.
MUNSCH –Special hydraulics for high altitude and smooth pump operation
For this particular high mountain application MUNSCH offers its Mammut series. Efficiencies up to 85% are work-class for plastic pumps. These pumps are fully armored to make them resistant to high pressures and a special hydraulic design reduces the NPSH requirement.
The improved suction behavior makes the pump run smooth and significantly reduces the need for maintenance.
Source: MUNSCH Chemical-Pumps
Picture: Dirk Weise