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PCP power equipment

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The various surface-drive system components of a progressing cavity pump (PCP) system will generally have specified maximum load and speed limits. For example, drive-head manufacturers’ catalogs will typically specify a maximum torque, polished-rod speed, and power as well as give a thrust bearing rating for their equipment. Some may also provide a maximum axial load value for their drives. The maximum torque limits typically are set for structural purposes, whereas the power limits reflect the safe operating capacity of the power transmission system (belts and sheaves or gear set). There are also torque limits related to the braking system capacity, and in many cases, only the lower of the two is published. The structural load capacity of a drive head is typically specified from an allowable overhanging motor size or weight. Motor size specifications are also important with respect to functionality of the frame, doors, and other components. Hydraulic systems have maximum and minimum speeds and a maximum hydraulic pressure indicated by the manufacturer.

Note that the maximum axial load specification of a drive head is typically not the same as the thrust bearing load rating (i.e., the Ca-90 thrust bearing rating is the loading at which 90% of bearings will survive 90 million revolutions). At a speed of 200 rpm, this number of revolutions equates to only 312 days of life, so the actual axial load on the drive head should be kept significantly lower than the thrust bearing rating to ensure long service life. It is reasonable to expect the bearing life to increase by about 10 times if the load is reduced by half.

Prime mover power requirements

The prime mover should be able to provide sufficient power to the system without being overloaded. The prime-mover power can be calculated as follows:



Ppmo = required prime-mover power output (kW [hp]),

Tpr = polished-rod torque (N•m [ft•lbf]),

ω = polished-rod rotational speed (rpm),

Ept = power transmission system efficiency (%),

C = constant (1.047 × 10–2 [1.904 × 10–2]).

In calculating the prime mover power requirement, the efficiencies of all the power transmission equipment must be considered. Belts, gears, bearings, and hydraulic systems all have associated energy losses. When selecting an electric motor, it is important to ensure that the motor will be loaded reasonably close to its rating to facilitate efficient operation. The system torque capacity should be sufficient to handle the worst-case operating conditions in the application, including startup.

Drive-head manufacturers’ catalogs list maximum and minimum sheave sizes for the two sheaves required (for drive heads that use sheaves). The maximum sizes are usually determined by size restrictions; the minimum size of the motor sheave will typically be based on a belt curvature limitation and/or torque transfer performance. The sheave sizes and hydraulic equipment displacements will determine the speed at which the system operates, in conjunction with the gear reduction ratio in the drive head (if the drive head has a gearbox). They should be selected so that the prime mover operates as close as possible to its nameplate speed, even in systems in which it is possible to adjust the prime-mover speed (e.g., use of an electronic speed control (ESC) with an electric motor). When electric motors are operated at lower speeds, they are subject to reduced efficiency and overheating.

Backspin brake

In most applications, a backspin brake is required to ensure safe operation of a progressive cavity pump (PCP) system. The brake system should have sufficient capacity to ensure that the maximum rated speed of the equipment is not exceeded during a worst-case backspin scenario. Again, both stuck pump and normal shutdown cases should be taken into consideration.


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See also

Progressing cavity pump (PCP) systems

PCP system components

Rod and tubing design for PCP systems

PCP system design