Booster pumps are used to increase pressure within liquid circulation systems, either for specific applications fed by the systems that require the higher pressure, or for increasing the distance the system is required to carry the liquid at the circulation pressure. Booster pumps are typically used in municipal water and waste-water treatment systems. Booster pumps also are used to pump water to higher elevations such as elevated reservoirs, water towers and very tall buildings.
Pumping water or petroleum over long distances requires booster pumps at defined intervals along the pipeline. Normal resistance to flow from friction along pipe walls and viscosity losses, along with increases in elevation, contribute to a gradual loss of pressure along the conduit. Booster pumps are optimized to add enough pressure to maintain the desired flow without boosting pressure so much that it must be overly reduced at the point of use in the flow control valve.
Many municipal water utilities encounter large water-consumption rates early in the morning as people prepare to go to work or school, and then again in the evening as people arrive home, prepare meals, wash dishes, flush toilets, bathe or shower, or do a load of wash. Later, water consumption returns to a low level. Using the boosters during peak hours would be prohibitively expensive. To counteract that phenomenon, booster pumps are used during off-peak hours at a lower electrical rate to pump the water into elevated water towers to supply the required pressure by merit of their higher liquid head. When high demand resumes, the elevated water is released from the towers until the demand period is over, and the process of filling them again during off-peak times is repeated.
Many industrial and domestic devices operate optimally at specified design pressures. Yet these pressures are too high for some of the other users along the distribution, and boosting pressure and then dropping it through pressure regulation for the low-pressure users wastes energy. A more economic approach is to boost the pressure only for the applications that need it, and leave the pressure lower, but still adequate, for the rest of the users.
Some domestic deep wells have to lift water over great elevations, so they are optimized to fill a capacity tank over a period of time. A booster pump circulating water throughout the house keeps pressure constant, despite heavy intermittent use, without over cycling the deep-well pump.
Petroleum traveling many miles through pipelines has flow booster pumps at intervals to assure the constant and economic flow of this vital energy resource. Many of these pumps are actually fueled by a small stream of the petroleum being piped, which substantially reduces fuel transportation costs.