Benefits of sliding vane pumps in liquid-terminal applications

Sept. 30, 2020
Standard-setting operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness combined with versatile liquid-handling capabilities make sliding vane pumps a go-to technology in storage terminals

Whether the commodities hauled are refined fuels (gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, fuel oil, LPG, etc.), chemical-based (solvents, acids, pesticides), or food-based (vegetable oils, animal oils, molasses), at some point they all will spend time at, or simply pass through, a liquid-storage terminal.

The commodities will arrive at the storage terminal via various modes of water-borne and inland transportation—ocean tanker, barge, railcar, pipeline and tank truck chief among them—and in a wide array of volumes, ranging from a few hundred to many thousands of gallons.

With all of these differing commodities continuously crisscrossing the globe in varying amounts and at different speeds, the main job for the storage terminal operator is twofold: 1) make sure those commodities are where they need to be when they need to be there, and 2) do it in the most efficient, cost-effective and reliable way.

Pumps are a critical link in this supply chain as they are used to load and unload the various varieties of vessels that arrive at the storage terminal. Over the years, different types of pumps have been utilized in storage terminal applications, with centrifugal and gear styles common choices. Terminal operators should, however, consider another type of pumping technology—the positive displacement sliding vane—as a go-to machine for the transfer of liquids at the many different flow rates, pressures and viscosities found in their facilities.

Superior performance

The following are three reasons why sliding vane pumps can outperform their centrifugal and gear cousins in liquid-storage terminal applications:

Greater energy efficiency

While terminal operators must meet the needs of their customers regarding product storage and transfer, they are also responsible for optimizing energy consumption and costs at their facilities, helping create an optimized bottom line. Sliding vane pumps can assist in this area because their design and method of operation is one of the most energy-efficient among all pumping technologies.

Sliding vane pumps can help storage terminal operators gain a competitive business advantage because they offer a number of energy- and cost-saving features and benefits in liquid-transfer applications, including:

  • Ability to handle very-thin liquids (gasoline, ammonia, LPG, solvents, etc.) along with those that have viscosities up to 50,000 cSt
  • Flow rates up to 2,000 gallons per minute (7,580 L/min)
  • Flow rates proportional to the pump’s speed
  • Ability to generate high pressure in low-flow applications
  • Lower overall cost of ownership when compared to centrifugal pumps
  • A design that minimizes energy-robbing pulsation
  • Dry-run and self-priming capabilities
  • Excellent suction lift and line-stripping capabilities, which is critical for terminal facilities that must clear lines, vessels and storage tanks of residual product
  • High volumetric efficiency due to self-adjusting vanes that eliminate energy-robbing slip
  • Easy maintenance and vane replacement that does not require the pump to be taken out of service


The versatility of sliding vane pumps enable terminal operators to construct skids that allow the pumps to be moved around the facility to perform multiple liquid-transfer operations. For example, the skids can be placed at railcars on a siding then repositioned between a tank truck and storage tank to facilitate that loading or unloading process.

This portability makes the liquid-transfer process more nimble and versatile, which result in optimized transfer operations with a corresponding reduction in operating costs.

Application versatility

Again, the design and operation of sliding vane pumps make them ideal for use in a variety of liquid-handling applications. While shining in loading or unloading storage tanks, or transferring liquids from one storage tank to another, the operation of sliding vane pumps can also make them a first-choice technology for other common storage terminal activities. These include the blending, mixing and packaging of raw materials or end products, which can then be loaded onto transport vehicles for further shipment down the supply chain.

Blackmer’s solution

Blackmer’s founder, Robert Blackmer, developed a new rotary vane pump technology in 1899 that was the predecessor to today’s modern sliding vane pumps. Since then, the Grand Rapids MI-based manufacturer—a brand of PSG, a Dover company—has been dedicated to providing the most efficient, safe and reliable pumping products for its customers in many of the world’s most important industries.

Today, many of those customers in the liquid storage terminal market are striving to optimize the performance of their operations in terms of delivery and storage efficiency, energy use and cost-effectiveness. And, many have come to recognize the benefits that sliding vane pumps can provide in meeting these important goals. Blackmer recognizes the needs of its customers and has taken pains to develop and produce sliding vane technologies that play a significant role in improved liquid-handling operations at storage terminals.

Blackmer manufacturers a number of sliding vane pump models that fit the various liquid-handling needs of storage terminals. They include the GNX Series, HXL Series, ML Series, SX Series and STX Series Sliding Vane Pumps. All incorporate the sliding vane principle of operation, which employs a number of vanes that are free to slide into and out of slots on the pump rotor. When the pump driver turns the rotor, the vanes move outward in their slots and bear against the pump’s inner bore casing, creating pumping chambers that transfer a volumetrically consistent amount of liquid, essentially independent of pressure or viscosity.

These operational abilities help make Blackmer sliding vane pumps a leading choice for storage terminal operators.

Bottom line

According to, there are nearly 1,600 terminals in the United States that are dedicated to the storage of various types of commodities and at various capacities. All of these facilities must meet the unique needs of their customers regarding reliability and efficiency, while also satisfying internal demands that they operate at the highest level of cost-effectiveness. As shown, terminal operators who choose to outfit their sites with sliding vane pumps can create many competitive advantages, all of which can play a role in building improved customer relations and a more robust bottom line.

Mark Pyk is the marketing communications manager for Blackmer and PSG. He can be reached at [email protected]. For more information on the full line of Blackmer pumps and compressors, call +1 (616) 241-1611 or visit

About the Author

Mark Pyk | Blackmer marketing communications manager

Mark Pyk is the marketing communications manager for Blackmer and PSG.