A Comprehensive Guide to Progressive Cavity Pump

A Beginner's Guide to Progressive Cavity Pumps


Global Pumps, a respected provider in the pumping industry, offers a range of products, including progressive cavity pumps. To enhance your understanding of this technology, we've put together a practical guide.

What is a progressive cavity pump?

A Progressive Cavity Pump (PCP) sometimes known as a Progressing Cavity Pump,  is a type of positive displacement pump designed for the efficient and precise transfer of fluids, ranging from thin to highly viscous substances. What sets PCPs apart is their unique helical rotor principle. The pump consists of a helical rotor, typically a single external screw, that rotates within a double helical stator. This creates sealed cavities that progress along the axis of the pump, trapping and propelling the fluid from the inlet to the outlet.


How do progressive cavity pumps work?

Progressive Cavity Pumps (PCPs) operate on a unique principle that involves the interaction between a helical rotor and a double helical stator. The following steps explain how progressing cavity pumps work:

      • Initiation of Cavities:

The pump starts with the rotor turning within the stator. The rotor is typically a single external screw, and the stator is a double helix with a shape that complements the rotor.

      • Formation of Cavities:

As the rotor rotates, cavities begin to form at the inlet side of the pump. These cavities are created by the helical shape of the rotor and stator.

      • Fluid Entrapment:

The cavities created between the rotor and stator act as chambers that trap the fluid being pumped. This trapped fluid is positioned at the inlet of the pump.

      • Progressing Movement:

The rotation of the rotor causes the cavities to progress along the length of the stator. This movement is gradual and creates a squeezing action on the fluid within the cavities.

      • Fluid Discharge:

As the cavities reach the discharge end of the pump, the squeezed fluid is expelled through the pump outlet. The continuous rotation of the rotor ensures a steady and controlled flow.

The helical design of the rotor and stator is key to the effectiveness of progressive cavity pumps. This design allows for a progressing, smooth, and mostly pulsation-free movement of the fluid, making PCPs particularly suitable for applications where a consistent and gentle pumping action is required.

Progressive cavity pumps are known for their ability to handle viscous fluids, shear-sensitive materials, and substances containing solids. Their versatility and efficiency in pumping a wide range of fluids make them valuable in various industries, including oil and gas, food processing, wastewater treatment, and more.

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Types of progressive cavity pump

      • Standard Progressing Cavity Pump
      • Sanitary/food grade
      • High Pressure
      • Submersible
      • Hazardous Area
      • Hopper fed
      • Open Throat

Progressive cavity pump vs centrifugal pump

There are key differences between progressive cavity pumps and centrifugal pumps:


Progressive Cavity Pump (PCP)

Centrifugal Pump

Operating Principle

Positive displacement with helical rotor and stator

Centrifugal force from rotating impeller

Fluid Handling Capability

Effective for viscous, shear-sensitive, and solids-laden fluids

Better suited for lower viscosity fluids

Pressure and Head

Capable of generating high pressure

Suitable for moderate pressures and high flow rates

Energy Efficiency

Generally considered more energy-efficient, especially with higher viscosity fluids

Efficiency may decrease with thicker fluids

Application Areas

Oil and gas, wastewater treatment, food processing, chemical manufacturing

Water supply, HVAC systems, irrigation, general fluid transfer

Flow Control

Provides a pulsation-free and controlled flow

Continuous flow with some pulsation in certain applications

Viscosity Handling

Well-suited for handling high-viscosity fluids

More effective for low to moderate viscosity fluids

Speed of Operation

Operates at lower speeds

Operates at higher speeds


Versatile in handling diverse fluids and challenging applications

Commonly used in standard fluid transfer scenarios


May require more frequent maintenance due to wear on rotor and stator

Generally requires less maintenance


Benefits of using a progressive cavity pump

Using a Progressing Cavity Pump (PCP) offers several benefits across a range of applications and industries. Here are some key advantages:

      • Handling Viscous Fluids:

PCPs excel in handling highly viscous fluids, including those with a high solids content. The positive displacement design allows for a consistent and controlled flow, making them ideal for applications where maintaining the integrity of the fluid is crucial. For example, in the food and beverage industry companies transfer thick and viscous substances such as sauces, pastes, and food purees. In the production of cosmetics and personal care products is utilised for transferring viscous ingredients such as lotions, creams, and gels.

      • Shear-Sensitive Materials:

The gentle pumping action of PCPs makes them suitable for shear-sensitive materials. Unlike some other pump types, PCPs minimise shear forces during fluid transfer, preventing damage to delicate substances. In the pharmaceutical industry these pumps employed for the transfer such as drug formulations, vaccines, and biologics.

      • Solids Handling Capability:

Progressing cavity pumps can handle fluids with a significant solids content without clogging. The design allows for the efficient transfer of liquids with suspended particles, making them well-suited for applications involving sludge, wastewater, and industrial processes. In mining operations these pumps efficiently handle the abrasive nature of the fluids, making them suitable for transporting mined materials, including ores and tailings, from one processing stage to another.

      • Versatility and Adaptability:

Progressing cavity pumps are versatile and adaptable to a wide range of applications. Whether in oil and gas, food processing, wastewater treatment, or chemical manufacturing, PCPs can be customized to suit specific requirements.

      • Pulsation-Free Flow:

PCPs provide a pulsation-free flow, which is essential in applications where a continuous and steady fluid transfer is required. This feature is particularly beneficial in processes that demand precision and consistency.

      • Self-Priming Capability:

Many PCPs have self-priming capabilities, allowing them to evacuate air and maintain prime even in challenging conditions. This makes them suitable for applications where suction lift is required.

      • High Pressure Capability:

Progressing cavity pumps are capable of generating high pressures, making them suitable for applications that demand the transfer of fluids over long distances or to elevated locations.

      • Ease of Maintenance:

PCPs typically have fewer moving parts compared to some other pump types, simplifying maintenance. The straightforward design and ease of disassembly contribute to reduced downtime during servicing.


Common Applications and Industries Utilising Progressive Cavity Pumps:


Paint, Varnish, and Ink Industry:

      • Precise transfer and metering of pigments, oils, resins, etc., to feed hopper tanks.
      • Efficient transfer of the final paint slurry from the mixing tank to the storage tank.

Food and Beverage:

      •  Washing and chopping pre-heated vegetables.
      • Transferring puree to the finishing stage to remove excess fibres and particles.
      • Moving raw materials from processing to cooking tanks.
      • Feeding mixed vegetables into the cooking kettle.
      • Transferring semi-processed honey from the sum tank to filtration units.
      • Transferring pollen from the filtration unit to the sieve tank.
      • Moving filtered honey from the sieve tank to the settling tank and then to the bottling unit.
      • Transferring must and wine to fermentation and clarification tanks.


      •  Dosing and transferring sodium carbonate to maintain alkalinity in the pulping solution.
      • Handling sodium sulphide in the pulping process.
      • Managing the pulping chemical solution containing sodium carbonate and sodium sulphide.
      • Precise dosing of calcium carbonate for optimal pH control in pulp preparation.
      • Pumping kaolin for improved paper opacity and printability.
      • Dosing pigments to achieve the desired coloration and print quality in the paper.

Wastewater Treatment: 

      • Transferring thickened sludge from storage tanks to dewatering systems.
      • Transferring treated sludge to storage silos, tanks, or vats.
      • Dosing and metering polymers and additives.
      • Feeding the filter press.

Mining/Oil & Gas:

      • Chemical dosing.
      • Collection of crude oil, drilling fluids, and produced water samples for quality analysis.
      • Feeding filter press.
      • Transport of potable water to remote mining or oil and gas camp facilities.
      • Applications with explosion-resistant ratings (EX rated).
      • Transfer of mineral concentrates, such as copper or gold concentrates, during processing.


      • Precise injection of water-soluble fertilizers such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium into irrigation systems.
      • Controlled application of pesticides, herbicides, or growth regulators for crop protection and enhancement.
      • Efficient transfer of animal waste for use as organic fertilizer or for proper disposal.
      • Powerful and controlled movement of liquids, such as irrigation water or liquid fertilisers, through high-pressure systems.
      • Treatment of irrigation water with additives like chlorine or anti-scalants to maintain water quality and soil health.

Ready to enhance your pumping solutions? Secure a consultation with one of our pump specialists today! Whether you're seeking the ideal solution for your requirements or delving into the efficiency of our Rotor pumps and diverse product range,  we can help. Talk to a pump specialist about our progressive cavity pumps, or our new Packo Pump range. We also stock a wide range of centrifugal pumps and peristaltic hose pumps for all your needs.


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