Quick And Dirty Guide to Vane Pumps

Author: Sara Peters | October 7, 2015 | Category: Pumps

viking-vane-pumpIf you've decided on a positive displacement pump for your application, there's a good chance you're swimming in a sea of options - internal gear, external gear, rotary lobe, and so on. Each pump serves a different purpose, so it's important to brush up on what pump is best for which application. 

Below is another addition to our "Quick And Dirty Guides", the vane pump. We'll give a brief overview of what a vane pump is, how they work, what they're great for, along with advantages and disadvantages. 


Vane pumps are well known for their dry priming, ease of maintenance, good suction characteristics, and are a popular choice for low viscosity applications. They're available in a number of vane configurations, including sliding vane, flexible vane, swinging vane, rolling vane, and external vane. Each type of vane pump offers unique advantages when it comes to specific applications. For example, an external vane pump is great for handling large solids. On the other hand, flexible vane pumps can only handle small solids, but create a good vacuum. Sliding vane pumps can run dry for short periods of time and handle small amounts of vapor.

vane-pump-animationHOW VANE PUMPS WORK

A vane pump uses a rotating cylinder with slots (or rotors) housing a series of vanes that rotate inside the cavity. The rotor is offset in a casing bore, so that when rotated, the vanes slide in and out. This creates expanding and contracting volumes that move liquid through the pump.


Vane pumps can handle moderately viscous fluids, but are best suited for lower viscosity applications, such as gas (propane), ammonia, solvents, fuel oils, alcohol, and etc. These pumps have no internal metal-to-metal contact and self-compensate for wear enabling them to maintain peak performance on these non-lubricating liquids.


  • Sliding contact of vanes make this pump a great option for thin liquids
  • Compensates for wear through vane extension
  • Can run dry for short periods of time
  • Good vacuum characteristics


  • Complex housing and many parts
  • Not suitable for high pressure or high viscosity applications
  • Not good for abrasive applications

Is a vane pump right for your application? There's a good chance it is if it's intended for a low viscosity application. Always make sure you get the right pump for the job by talking to an experienced engineer.

If you need help selecting the right pump for your application, ask us about it! We gladly provide technical assistance to businesses in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.  

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Sara Peters

Sara Peters

Sara leads Crane Engineering's blogging team, coming up with fresh stories and insights for our readers to apply to their every day work.

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