All About Submersible Pumps


Submersible Pump

A submersible pump is a particular type of pump that is designed to be submerged in its entirety into the fluid to be lifted. The innovative design avoids many of the problems that other pumping solutions can encounter in a high lift situation. Used in a wide range of applications, submersible pumps can be found pumping everything from drinking water to oil. Let’s take a look at submersible pumps and why they can be the ideal solution for many scenarios.

Inventor Armais Arutunoff, an oil delivery system engineer, designed and built his first submersible pump in 1916. But it wasn’t until 1928 that his pump was successfully used in an oil field, thanks to a development effort backed by his friend Frank Phillips, the head of Phillips Petroleum Company.

Arutunoff’s design found wide use in the oil industry. By the year 1938, it is estimated that two percent of all oil pumped in the United States was done with an Arutonoff pump.

A year after Arutunoff introduced his pump design, Pleuger Pumps created the submersible turbine pump. This pump design was the forerunner to the modern multi-stage submersible pump. The pump went on to find general industry acceptance.

A Submersible pump for deep water wells was developed by Poul Due Jensen in the mid-1960s. The new water pump design was successful, and submersible pumps can be found in many water well applications today.

Submersible Pump Design

Submersible pumps may be known as a sub pump or an ESP (electric submersible pump.) The pump incorporates a hermetically sealed motor that is coupled to the pump body. As the name indicated, submersible pumps are designed so that the entire assembly can be submerged into the fluid to be pumped.

The design of the submersible pump allows it to avoid problems with cavitation, a problem experienced with typical pump solutions that have a sizeable elevated difference between the pump and the liquid surface.

Submersible pumps push fluid to the surface as opposed to jet pump designs that have to pull the fluid to ground level. For this reason, submersible pumps are considered to be more efficient than jet pumps. Unlike many surface located pumps, submersible pumps also avoid the need for priming.

Submersible pumps can be found in both single stage and multi-stage configurations, depending on the application at hand.

How They Work

The modern electric submersible pump is a multistage centrifugal pump designed to operate in a vertical orientation. The fluid typically enters through a protective intake screen and is lifted through the action of the pump’s different stages.

Liquid enters the housing and is accelerated by the pump’s impeller. From there, the fluid flows to the diffuser. Inside the diffuser, the liquid’s kinetic energy is converted to pressure energy. This is repeated through the different stages if so equipped and the fluid is lifted.


Because of their versatility and ease of use, submersible pumps can be found in use in many different applications. Single stage versions that require minimal lift distances can be found employed in drainage and general industrial applications. Many pond filters utilize a submersible pump in their design.

Multi-stage submersible pumps are designed to be almost cylindrical in shape. This allows it to fit into a borehole created by a commercial drilling rig. You can find multi-stage submersible pumps in use for water extraction from a drilled well in many residential and commercial applications.

Oil wells also employ multi-stage submersible pumps. Their design allows the pump to be fitted with as many stages as needed to match the fluid height requirements. When used around hazardous or combustible fluids, the pumps can be sealed to avoid ignition with any vapors.

Submersible pumps are also used in many sewage treatment plants and seawater applications. Offshore drilling rigs use them to push the oil from drilled boreholes up into collection points. In many cases, submersible pumps are used to dewater flooded mine shafts so that work can continue once drained.

When coupled with flame retardant cabling, submersible pumps are used by firefighters to help combat fires both in the wild and in urban settings.

Submersible pumps continue to be a very versatile pumping solution for liquid lifting applications. Mader Electric, Inc. specializes in submersible pump repair and installation, as well as pump training. Contact us to see how we can help with your pumping needs.

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