Difference Between Reciprocating and Rotary Pump

The reciprocating and rotary pumps are the most common and efficient types of pumps. They both use an inlet valve to change the direction of flow.

The inlet valves allow the pump to move fluid from one point to another point, but only if they are moving in a consistent motion.

Reciprocating vs Rotary Pump

The main difference between Reciprocating Pump and a Rotary pump is Reciprocating pump is large in size, and Rotary pumps are smaller. The reciprocating pump needs high maintenance, and Rotary pumps need less maintenance. The space requirement is high for Reciprocating pumps but low for rotary pumps.

Reciprocating and Rotary Pump

Reciprocating pump engine is the most popular type of internal combustion engine. The reciprocating pump was an important technological development in the history of water supply.

It moves liquids like water or oil by the use of pressure pulses to push against liquid flow through nonreturn valves. The reciprocating pump uses a plunging plunger to create pressure and lift liquids.

The Rotary pump is a positive displacement device that consists of a rotor with several blades attached to a shaft. Which in turn is coupled to a tubular housing.

The rotor turns within the housing as the blades rotate. Causing fluid to be drawn in from an inlet port and discharged through an outlet port.

Comparison Table Between Reciprocating and Rotary Pump

Parameters of ComparisonReciprocating PumpRotary Pump
High-Pressure liquidsGoodNeeds to be adjusted
TypesPlunger pumps, Radial Pistol pumpsScrew pumps, Lobe pumps, Gear pumps

What is Reciprocating Pump?

A reciprocating pump is a device that moves liquids and gases using the principle of displacement. Fluid is drawn into the pump cylinder, accelerated to a high velocity, and ejected from the cylinder.

The result is similar to that produced by a centrifugal pump, but in a reciprocating pump, pressure forces liquid. T flow through valves and pipes rather than centripetal force.

The pump was powered by steam engines and enabled cities to bring drinking water from greater distances. It was a key contributing factor to the population growth of urban areas.

During the Industrial Revolution and opened up new possibilities for agriculture as well. A reciprocating pump is a positive displacement pump.

It moves liquids like water or oil by the use of pressure pulses to push against liquid flow through nonreturn valves. Which are used to increase efficiency.

The first piston pumps were hand-operated and date back to the first century AD. They were developed in China during the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD).

The Chinese engineer Ding Huan created what he called the ‘Spring and Well’ pump. This consisted of a flowing well with an underground tube attached below it.

This tube was connected to two J-shaped pistons that moved up and down inside.

What is Rotary Pump?

A rotary pump is a positive displacement pump that uses an eccentric rotor and a curved rotor-casing seal. T produce a variable vacuum in the pumping chamber, drawing in the fluid.

There are two types of rotary pumps: centrifugal and peristaltic pumps. These pumps work on slightly different principles but achieve the same result, namely transferring fluid from one to another.

Rotary pumps are a group of positive displacement pumps commonly used to pump liquids with viscosities ranging. From 1.5 centipoises (0.007 mils) for lower volume applications.

Using an open impeller up to 35,000 centipoises (0.78 mils) for high volume applications using a closed impeller. Can be designed to handle a wide range of volumes at low power consumption.

There are two basic types of rotary pumps: volumetric and flow rate. A rotary pump (also known as a helical pump) is a positive-displacement type of internal gear pump.

The pistons within the pump rotate, and this rotation causes the fluid to move through the rotary pump. The rotary pump can be used in various industries to transport materials

That are difficult to move using more conventional methods of transportation. These pumps have been designed for special applications.

That require more precise control of pressure or volume than other types of pumps provide.

Main Differences Between Reciprocating and Rotary Pump

  1. Reciprocating pumps are larger than Rotary Pump.
  2. The reciprocating pump is good with high-pressure liquids, but the Rotary pump has to adjust the pressure.
  3. Reciprocating pumps are plunger pumps, radial pistols, and many more, but Rotary pumps are screw pumps, lobe pumps, gear pumps, and many more.
  4. Reciprocating pumps need more space compared to Rotary pumps.
  5. Reciprocating pumps need high maintenance compared to Rotary pumps.
  6. The flow is pulsating in reciprocating pumps but smooth in rotary pumps.
Difference Between Reciprocating and Rotary Pump


The plunger is attached to a crankshaft, which spins when powered by electricity or another prime mover. As the crankshaft rotates, it moves the plungers up and down inside their housings.

Creating back-and-forth pumping action. The reciprocating pump is usually driven by an electric motor but can also be driven by steam, gas, or water pressure.

The moving parts are only the piston and the check valve that opens to let liquid into the cylinder and then closes. A reciprocating pump is a device that moves fluids or gases.

In one direction using pressure differentials to force the fluid through the pump. A reciprocating (or piston) pump uses pistons driven by linear.

Rotary, or hydraulic movements to produce a continuous flow of liquid from one location to another. The main advantage of a reciprocating pump over other types is its high flow rate for a given head.

And it can be used in cases where non-pressurized action is required. The main disadvantage lies in its relatively low efficiency compared with other pumps.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045793006000776
  2. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/5143944
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