March 31, 2023

GEA doubles flow rates of its centrifugal pump range

With the introduction of a third size in the GEA Hilge CONTRA range, GEA is expanding the performance spectrum of its centrifugal pumps to a flow rate of 100 cubic meters per hour. The new GEA Hilge CONTRA III meets the general requirements of the dairy, beverage, and food industries. It is particularly well suited for demanding pharmaceutical applications in which sterile, no-cast materials in CIP- and SIP-capable specialized pumps are a critical factor in the manufacture of life science products.

Flow rates doubled

The GEA Hilge CONTRA III multistage centrifugal pump in the CONTRA range is designed according to the Hygienic Design guidelines and has a decades-long track record in sterile applications thanks to its electropolished surfaces, high-quality sealing materials, and versatile designs. “Centrifugal pumps are, so to speak, the workhorses of the process engineering industry. They are the most widely used pumps in the pharmaceutical industry because their design ensures the necessary hygienic, reproducible production,” explains Martin Zickler, Product Manager for hygienic centrifugal pumps at GEA.

By introducing the new size with increased drive power, GEA has doubled the maximum flow rate to 100 cubic meters per hour compared to the previously available range. “Our target for the GEA Hilge pump range is to cover as large performance spectrum as possible with just a few sizes,” says Zickler. “This reduces spare parts inventory costs for plant operators. The greater the number of individual pump sizes in a process line, the wider the range of mechanical seals and O-ring sets are required to be kept in stock.”

Mitigating the risk of contamination

In both the food and pharmaceutical industries, the requirements for purity and reproducible quality of raw materials, active ingredients and end products are particularly high. In pharma applications, the water typically transferred by pumps is of WFI (water for injection), PW (purified water) and AP (aqua purificata) quality. Other media to be transferred are infusion solutions, suspensions, nutrient solutions, alcoholic solutions, vaccines or blood plasma. The plant components installed directly in the production area must not contaminate circulating media (high-purity water) or products (cell cultures, solutions from the fermenter) – neither by the penetration of undesirable substances from outside, nor by the materials used.

Process-reliable, fail-safe, easy to clean

GEA has designed the CONTRA pump range to meet the highest process reliability, material and failure safety requirements. “When CIP cycles are not perfectly carried out, production downtime costs increase. This is why we design plant components such as our GEA Hilge CONTRA III to be both hygienic and easy to maintain so as to improve plant availability,” says Zickler. This not only contributes to product safety, but also to gentle product handling and plant efficiency. CIP and sanitizing cycle times can be reduced, which in turn saves water and cleaning agents as well as the energy required to heat the cleaning media. Service-friendly patented Adapta design of the CONTRA III allows the pump to remain in the pipeline in the event of a motor change. The system does not need to be revalidated for pharmaceutical applications, thus minimizing maintenance requirements.

Total drainage through eccentric discharge port and inclined surfaces

Criteria for the cleanability of pumps are primarily the absence of dead spaces and a cavitation-free design of all media contacting parts. This applies, among other things, to the installation space of the mechanical seal and the arrangement and dimensioning of the drainage system, which is essential to avoid any contamination. The fluid can already drain off completely with a surface inclination angle of 3°. If GEA Hilge CONTRA pumps are installed vertically, this can be achieved even without the need for a drain valve.

No-cast components are easy to clean

Material selection plays an equally important role in quality and safety in process control. Manufacturers, therefore, prefer high-quality stainless steels, which ensures hygiene, corrosion resistance, and long service life. In order to facilitate cleanability in hygienically sensitive applications, GEA relies on forged, deep-drawn, and milled components instead of castings for media-contacting parts. Zickler: “Because they are prone to cavitation, cast parts are particularly undesirable in the pharmaceutical industry. Their reduced cleanability makes reproducible, easy-to-clean production difficult.” However, both aspects were important parameters for GEA in the development of the pump. All materials have therefore been carefully selected for their use in hygienic processes. The casings are made of deep-drawn rolled or forged steel of grade 316L (1.4404 or 1.4435). The non-porous and cavitation-free surface enables different sterilization standards with surface roughness from Ra ≤ 0.8 µm to Ra ≤ 0.4 µm.

Versatile customization options

The entire CONTRA range is characterized by a wide range of configuration options, allowing plant operators to use the pumps in a variety of applications. Whether installed horizontally or vertically, the GEA Hilge CONTRA III achieves a very high efficiency thanks to the precise operating point design and various impeller geometries. For pumps that are to be used in explosive atmospheres, the CONTRA is available in the Adapta variant. This design has EC conformity approval according to ATEX Directive 2014/34/E.

Frequency converter for versatility

Increasing the versatility of the GEA Hilge CONTRA III, frequency converters are also an integral part of the hygienic concept. Pharmaceutical companies that also operate their plants under partial load and on weekends particularly benefit from speed control, as the water distribution system must be kept in motion continuously in order to prevent contamination, regardless of the actual operating phase. Frequency converters have a significantly lower heat effect on the pumped media compared to throttled centrifugal pumps. Less cooling is required as a result and energy costs are reduced. The sensitive media is protected from thermal damage.

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