Progressive Cavity Pumps: How They Work and Common Applications

Progressive cavity pumps can play a crucial part in many different operations. Whether you are pumping food and drink products, oil, sewage, viscous chemicals, or other fluids, you will definitely encounter situations where this specific industrial pump design is a great fit.

Engineered Systems & Products (ESP), along with our partners like PCM, is dedicated to providing sales and service support for all of your pumping needs. This includes progressive cavity pumps along with a variety of other industrial designs. Please contact us today so we can design a plan that is specific to your pumping needs.

Let’s take a closer look at this special type of positive displacement pump and the many different applications that they can be used.

What are Progressive Cavity Pumps?

As mentioned previously, these are a type of positive displacement pump which means that fluid travels through the pump in small fixed shape cavities that move as a result of the rotor turning. The pump is designed for volumetric flow rate that is proportional to the rotational rate of the pump rotor. An advantage of progressive cavity pumps is the fact that there are very low levels of shearing applied to the pumping fluid. As a result, they are commonly used for viscous materials that are shear sensitive.

You may also hear these referred to as progressing cavity pumps, eccentric screw pumps, or cavity pumps.

Here is some theory behind the operation of these machines.

How Do They Work?

Progressive cavity pumps consist of two very important parts. Generally, there will be a helical rotor inside of a double helical hole. As the rotor spins inside of the pump body, cavities are left behind. This is where the fluid will reside as the helical rotor turns. These cavities maintain a constant shape as the rotor turns and moves the fluid through the pump. That being said, it is very important that these pumps are manufactured with precision to ensure efficient operations. And this is exactly what you will get when you let ESP take charge of your pumping needs!

This corkscrew like design can be highly influenced by the type of material that is being pumped through it. Since it is a precision design that has very tight tolerances between the rotor and the body, abrasive type fluids can shorten the life of the pump. The harsh material will continuously wear away at the pump internals over time. On the other hand, progressive cavity pumps offer a long and reliable life when used with viscous fluids. This is because the fluid that is being transferred also acts as a lubricant for the internal parts.

So how did these pumps come to life?

History of Progressive Cavity Pumps

This very useful pump design that can be seen all around the world today was initially invented as a compressor for jet engines. In 1930, Rene Moineau founded this principle that would eventually be used for pumping fluids.

They soon became very popular thanks to all of the incredible benefits.

Advantages of Progressive Cavity Pumps

This specific pump design has many great benefits that make them a very attractive option for certain operations. One advantage is that fact that they can handle both fragile and viscous fluids. Since the pump applies low levels of shearing to the material, the more shear sensitive ones will not be negatively influenced.

Next, the flowrate is directly proportional to the operating speed of the pump. This means that the flow rate can be easily adjusted by changing the speed of the pump.

Another benefit is the fact that progressive cavity pumps are high suction and have the ability to self prime. This is nice because you do not have to worry about ever forgetting to prime your pump again. This will also save you time.

You will also experience a constant rate from these pumps. A constant, non-pulsating flow is vey desirable for many scenarios that we will discuss in just a bit.

Don’t forget that these pumps also have the ability to reverse flow. Again, there are numerous situation where this is attractive or even required.

Last but not least, progressive cavity pumps are extremely easy to maintain. Especially when using viscous fluids that also act as lubricants, these pumps offer a long reliable life with very little maintenance.

Operations and Applications

As mentioned previously, progressive cavity pumps have many typical applications all around the world today. One of the most common uses being for food and drink pumping. All of the benefits offered by this pump design make them very sought after for this industry. You will also frequently see them used for oil and coal slurry pumping, sewage pumping, stormflow screening, and viscous chemical pumping.

Another application that is not quite as common is their use for downhole mud motors in oilfield directional drilling. In an operation like this, the process is reversed. The fluid being pumped is used to create mechanical power. This occurs as the fluid turns the rotor, or motor, which can then be used to rotate a directional drilling bit.

A few other specific uses for progressive cavity pumps are cement pumping, lubrication oil pumping, marine diesel fuel pumping, and mining slurry pumping.

If you are looking to use a progressive cavity pump for another type of operation that has not been mentioned, give the ESP team a call to discuss any ideas that you have. We can build you a custom plan to bring your great ideas to life.

Let the ESP Experts Point You in the Right Direction

As you can see, progressive cavity pumps are an attractive option for a variety of reasons. Whether you are pumping food and drink products, viscous chemicals, or in need of a downhole directional drilling mud motor, this style of pump offers incredible efficiency and reliability. Along with all the amazing benefits of these products, ESP is also dedicated to providing top notch service as well. With over 35 years of experience in the industry, you can be confident that our team of experts can answer all of your questions and meet all of your expectations. We look forward to serving all of your pumping needs. Please visit or product page for more information.