What is Pumping Ring

A pumping ring is a crucial component in mechanical seals. It prevents leakage by maintaining a liquid film between the seal faces.

This blog post explains the purpose and working of a pumping ring in mechanical seals.

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What is Pumping Rings

Pumping rings are components in mechanical seals that help circulate fluid between the seal faces. A mechanical seal prevents leakage by creating a seal between a rotating shaft and a stationary housing. The pumping ring creates a pumping action that circulates fluid across the seal faces, providing lubrication and cooling.

How Do Pumping Rings Work

The pumping ring has angled grooves on its surface that act as small pumps. As the shaft rotates, these grooves pump fluid from the outside towards the seal faces. The fluid then flows across the seal faces, lubricating and cooling them.

Types of Pumping Rings

  • Radial flow pumping rings with drilled vanes: These look similar to an enclosed centrifugal pump impeller but have straight drilled holes instead of vanes. The inlet and outlet ports are usually perpendicular to the pumping ring axis. Flow enters axially but exits perpendicular to the axis with a tangential component.
  • Radial flow pumping rings with slots: These use slots instead of drilled vanes to produce radial flow. The slots impart velocity and direction to the surrounding fluid as the shaft rotates.
  • Axial flow pumping rings with spiral grooves: Also known as scrolls, these have spiral grooves that produce axial flow along the shaft axis. As the shaft rotates, the spiral pattern directs fluid from a low pressure to a high pressure region.

Advantages of Pumping Rings

  • Fluid Circulation: Ensure proper lubrication and cooling of the seal faces, prolonging their lifespan.
  • Contaminant Prevention: Create a hydrodynamic pumping action that prevents contaminants from entering the seal area, protecting the seal faces from damage.
  • Enhanced Pressure Distribution: Improve pressure distribution across the seal faces, promoting better film formation and sealing performance.
  • Heat Dissipation: Help dissipate heat generated by friction, preventing overheating and premature seal failure.
  • Compensation for Misalignments: Compensate for minor misalignments or distortions in the seal assembly, improving sealing efficiency.
  • Fluid Film Stability: Contribute to the stability of the fluid film, reducing the risk of dry running and seal failure.

Applications of Pumping Rings


API PLAN 23 covers the requirements for pumping rings used in mechanical seals for centrifugal pumps. It specifies the materials, dimensions, and manufacturing tolerances for pumping rings. The plan is applicable to pumping rings used in various industries, including oil and gas, chemical, and power generation.


API PLAN 52 provides guidelines for the design and testing of mechanical seals used in centrifugal and rotary pumps. It covers the requirements for pumping rings, including materials, dimensions, and testing procedures. The plan is widely used in the oil and gas industry.


API PLAN 53 is a standard for the design and testing of mechanical seals used in reciprocating pumps. It specifies the requirements for pumping rings, including materials, dimensions, and testing methods. This plan is commonly used in the oil and gas industry for reciprocating pumps.


Where are pumping rings located in a mechanical seal

Pumping rings are typically located on the rotating shaft or sleeve, adjacent to the seal faces.

Are pumping rings used in all types of mechanical seals

No, pumping rings are primarily used in mechanical seals designed for handling liquids or gases with moderate to high pressures and temperatures.

Can pumping rings be replaced or repaired

In some mechanical seal designs, pumping rings can be replaced if they become worn or damaged. However, in other designs, the pumping rings may be an integral part of the seal and cannot be replaced separately.

How often should pumping rings be inspected or replaced

The inspection and replacement intervals for pumping rings depend on the specific application, operating conditions, and manufacturer’s recommendations.


Pumping rings in mechanical seals help maintain a thin fluid film between the seal faces, ensuring proper lubrication and preventing dry running. They are crucial for seal performance and longevity.

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