Peristaltic pumps (also known as roller pumps) are a type of positive displacement pump that is used in a variety of different industries. They are mainly used for high purification applications because the material being pumped is confined to a tube keeping the media pristine. For that reason, they are most commonly used in metering, dispensing, and precise gene transfer applications.
Other industries such as semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, and transferring or dosing chemicals and additives in food applications, use peristaltic pumps because of the rare combination of purity and precision they offer and the ability to handle viscous, acid, alkali, and sterile fluids.
When using a peristaltic pump, the pump is never in contact with the material/media and the material/media is never in contact with the pump. Also, the material/media is never contaminated from the pump, and the pump is never contaminated from the material/media.
How Do Peristaltic Pumps Work?
Peristaltic pumps offer flow rates as low as 0.0007 mL/min, up to 45 liters/min, and can generate pressures up to 8.6 bar (125 psi) that are either rotary (circular) or linear.
Peristaltic pumps consist of flexible tubing that runs through a roller wheel (sometimes called rollers or shoes) located in the pump head to move a fluid upwards or downwards. Doing this constricts the tube and increases the low-pressure volume. When this happens a vacuum is created which pulls the liquid into the tube. As the fluid travels through the pump head, packets of fluid are created. The size of the packets and the speed of the rollers that turn determines the flow rate.
Once the liquid is in the pump, it is pushed through the tube by compressing it at different points where the rollers or shoes are – if you have ever seen an IV drip machine, you may have seen how a peristaltic pump works. As each rotating or oscillation motion occurs, the media is transferred through the tube.
Accurate meter readings of the media are achieved by controlling the size of the tubing and the speed of the pump head. Flow rates from ~0.3 – 20 gallons per day are achieved by size adjustments.
Advantages of Peristaltic Pumps
They require very little maintenance as all the materials are confined in the tubing
They have a reduced downtime compared to other pumping mechanisms
They are not exposed to pollution outside the system, which would normally interfere with the results
Both the fluid and the pump are always sterile as they are never in contact with each other offering ultimate purity
Tubing comes in many formulations and sizes making them great for pumping a variety of liquids
Even when peristaltic pumps are dry, they can draw fluid into the tubing – this is known as “self-priming”
They have a gentle pumping action, so you don’t need to worry about damaging any cells and proteins in the media
Some peristaltic pumps have variable speed options so you can control flow
They have minimal maintenance requirements, all you have to do is replace the tubing
They have a non-siphoning system, to prevent back-flow of fluids
They can be controlled by different methods (knob control, foot pedal, and touch screen control)
Disadvantages of Peristaltic Pumps
Peristaltic pump flow is a pulsed flow so it is not always smooth and consistent
As the tubing is constantly squeezed, the tube consistently wears out, the more use, the less time the peristaltic pump will last – however, replacing the tubing is cheap, quick, and easy!
Applications for Peristaltic Pumps
Due to their simplicity and variability in size and flow rate, peristaltic pumps can be used in a variety of applications.
They are perfect for applications that want to avoid any contamination, for example, dialysis machines or open-heart bypass pumps, where the system must be completely sterile.
Here are a few applications that peristaltic pumps are used for:
Heart/lung machines during surgery
To pump IV fluids
Vitamin A & D injection
Analytical chemistry testing & harvesting cell media
Beverage supply equipment (e.g. juice production)
Food manufacturing (e.g. pizza sauce dispensing)
Water & wastewater
Engineering & manufacturing
Dispensing glue emulsions
Types of Peristaltic Pumps
Peristaltic pumps are separated into two types: Hose pumps and tube pumps depending on the pressure they supply.
Hose Pumps (high pressure)
Hose pumps are used for supplying very hard content at high pressures
Usually use shoes not rollers to squeeze the tube
Casings are filled with lubricant to prevent the exterior of the pump from rubbing
A big pump and monitor is required
Tube Pumps (low pressure)
Tube pumps are great for low supply rates – lower pressures
Programmable with different pump heads
They use rollers to squeeze the tube
Constant use of rollers reduce tubing life
Peristaltic Pumps at Atlas Scientific
At Atlas Scientific, our peristaltic pumps are perfect for precision dosing applications. We have both a standard peristaltic pump and a large dosing pump that can move up to 7 times more fluid per minute than the standard pump.
We use Saint-GobainTM PharMedTM BPT tubing that is highly chemically resistant and more resistant to chemical wear than silicone tubing.
They can operate in different modes:
Continuous dispensing – The pump is run continuously
Volume dispensing – A specific volume is pumped
Dose over time – A specific volume is pumped over a set time
Constant flow rate – A specific volume is pumped per minute
Dispense at startup – A specific volume is dispensed at the start
Summing Up Peristaltic Pump Applications
Peristaltic pumps are extremely useful if your application requires pristine conditions. They have many uses in industries, as they prioritize no contamination, are simple to use, and are relatively affordable.
As they require little maintenance and effort, buying a peristaltic pump is good value for money!
If you would like to know more about peristaltic pumps, feel free to reach out to one of our staff at Atlas Scientific, part of our world-class team. We look forward to answering all your questions and helping you on your journey.
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