A cryogenic pump is a submersible motor pump used in cryogenic temperatures to transfer cryogenic liquids.

Cryogenic liquids or fluids such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, argon and liquefied hydrocarbons like methane or natural gas, are typically stored and transported in pressurised containers.

The containers are typically well-insulated and refrigerated to very low temperatures. Pumps are used to transfer such cryogenic fluids between containers or from one container to a point of use.

The cryogenic pump industry is driven by the demands of the industry it serves. As the liquid gas industry develops, then new pump solutions are required to meet the demands of new processes. Like all evolving industries, where new ideas have to be looked at constantly and improved, pumping solutions to process have to be found.

In many commercial situations, industrial gases, such as oxygen, nitrogen, argon and hydrogen, are supplied to a use point in a continuous manner, such as from a pipeline or from a production plant located at the site of the use point. In such continuous use situations, it is imperative to employ a cryogenic pump for smooth operations.

Types
Long Shaft Cryogenic Pumps efficiently transfer liquid cryogens while minimizing heat leak. The pump’s motor is mounted outside the cryogenic system.

A long shaft separates the motor from the pump impeller, thereby minimising heat leak. Some applications include the circulation of liquid nitrogen for high temperature superconductors and for synchrotron beamline crystal cooling.

Submersible Cryogenic Pumps
Submersible Cryogenic Pumps are applicable where heat leak is not of great concern, but where reliability is most important.

Applications include the transfer of: LNG at vehicle filling stations and liquid nitrogen and LNG to tanker trucks.

Vacuum Housing Cryo Pumps
Vacuum Housing Cryogenic Pumps circulate liquid cryogens in applications where extremely low heat leak is required. The pump’s impeller is mounted in a vacuum to minimise heat leak as much as possible.

Applications for this product include the circulation of liquid helium for cooling superconducting magnets and supercritical hydrogen for neutron source cooling.

Leading players
Cryostar and ACD Cryo are two of the largest players in the cryogenic pump industry, while there are a host of mid-sized organisations in the industry across all the continents.

These smaller firms are trying to catch-up with the two leaders and have set ambitious capital expenditure programmes. We have witnessed a few acquisitions and mergers in the cryogenic pump industry in last few years.

For example, in February 2002 the Cryogenics Division of Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. acquired APD Cryogenics to form SHI Cryogenics Group. The combined global infrastructures, manufacturing capabilities and product ranges of Sumitomo Heavy Industries and APD Cryogenics bring to the marketplace a unique and unprecedented capability, to enable development of the next wave of cryogenic equipment.

Describing growth trends in the cryogenic pumps business, Steve Hinchliffe of ACD Cryo told gasworld, “The growth of our industry follows the industrial growth of the region or individual nations. Over recent years we have seen China, and to a lesser extent India, grow at a rate that perhaps 20 years ago would have been unimaginable, but it has happened. We have also seen quite reasonable growth in the Gulf States and South America.”

Growth prospects
As described above, China and India has surprised the world for quite sometime with the growth in their respective industries and are likely to be the focus of the cryogenic industry, at least for a few more years.

Russia and some of the erstwhile Soviet states will also be big demand drivers in the coming years, while another two regions which have posted steady growth in the past and are expected to do so in the near term are South America and Middle East/Asia.

Major players in cryogenic pumps

ACD Cryo
ACD is an engineering and manufacturing firm, established over forty years ago, devoted to the design and development of cryogenic centrifugal and reciprocating pumps for the air separation, industrial gas distribution, alternate fuels, and petrochemical markets.

ACD is a leading manufacturer of reciprocating and centrifugal pumps for all cryogenic liquids and turbo expanders for air separation. ACD is based in Santa Ana, California, US with 12 sales and service companies strategically located around the world as members of the Cryogenic Industries family of companies.

Included are four locations in the US, two in Canada and one each in Germany, Malaysia, Australia, the UK, China and South Korea.

It makes the largest range of cryogenic high pressure (piston) pumps than any other company and has an extensive experience in high volume high pressure LN2 pumps for the oil well and CNG/LNG industry.

Cryostar
Cryostar meanwhile, now a member of The Linde Group, is one of the pioneers in Cryogenic pumps. With its management and research office in France, Cryostar is present on all continents, supported by its business centres and subsidiaries.

Specialising in equipment and expertise for industrial gas, LNG, hydrocarbons and clean energy, Cryostar is an international company serving customers worldwide.