Dragflow is working on a cutting edge project: designing a new and reliable system to detect seal damage in submersible pumps. The goal is to reduce maintenance costs and the risk of water contamination.

This project is funded by FESR, Regional Development European Fund and in collaboration with Heide Pumpen.

Submersible pumps are widely used for pumping water and sludge. Pumps for heavy-duty applications are provided by a large oil chamber containing a significant amount of oil, that serves as a lubricant of internal components.

When the pump is used, the seals are subject to stress and wear, meaning it is essential to detect initial damage in order to prevent major damages and spill of oil into water, causing pollution.

The main objective of the project is to develop a new and reliable system for early detection of seal damage in order to reduce maintenance costs and the risk of contamination of surrounding water.

Today, the most common way to detect pump wear is measuring the water content in the oil chamber of the pump, if the amount of water increases, the pump has to be shutdown for maintenance.

Sensors available today are based on the measurement of electrical feature changes in the oil. Unfortunately, this type of sensors is not accurate enough as the change in electrical features can be detected only when the oil’s water content exceeds 30%, which means only when the damage is already catastrophic.

The new type of sensor Dragflow is developing is based on the fact that the change of the colour of the oil is evident even with a very small percentage of water. This is a new approach that will require a large effort, initially to evaluate the type of sensor to be used and then for design and integration of the sensor into the pumps. This project will completely change the maintenance of submersible pumps.