What is a Peristaltic Pump?
A peristaltic pump works by pressure and displacement. It is used mainly to pump liquids through a tube, which is different than most other pumps in which parts of the pump actually come into direct contact with the liquid. It is one of the most common types of tools used to pump liquids, especially in medical settings. Because the mechanical workings of the pump never come into contact with the fluid directly, it has a number of uses, especially in situations where sterile fluids are required.
A peristaltic pump operates by allowing fluids into a hose. The fluid then flows into the pump casing through the hose. Once there, a rotor with a number of rollers compresses the tube forcing the liquid on through the pump and directing it to its final destination. This technique is known as peristalsis. Thus, the tool is called a peristaltic pump.
Often, when using a peristaltic pump, the fluids must be kept in a pure environment. Therefore, the hoses must always contain the same fluid. However, this does not necessarily limit the functioning of the pump, because the hoses can be switched out. This is often done, for example, in cases where there is an IV fluid being pumped.
The pump offers other advantages as well. For example, because the inside of the pump is dry, there is less of a need to worry about having to protect the pump from moisture. The moisture stays inside the tube. Therefore, because less waterproofing is needed the peristaltic pump is often cheaper to manufacture when compared to a liquid pump.
The tubing must also be capable of meeting a couple of different requirements. First, the type of liquid should not be as corrosive to the tubing material. This is very important to prevent damage from occurring to the inside of the pump housing. The second consideration is that the tubing must be flexible or durable enough to handle the constant repetition of being compressed, perhaps thousands of time in an hour.
Due to the sterility issue, the peristaltic pump finds itself most useful in the medical environment. It can be used in dialysis machines, heart-pumping machines, and IV machines. In addition to this, it can also be used for liquids meant for consumption. The cost of a pump can vary widely depending on the application and the power source involved.
I'm a Paramedic, and we are trained to use the peristaltic IV pumps. However, sometimes we need to get fluids into a person as fast as humanly possible, so we use another method that accomplishes the same thing in a much more crude fashion.
The IV bag can be wrapped in a blood pressure cuff and pumped up to squeeze the fluid out as fast as possible into the patient's body. This is not elegant, but it works. I don't know if there is a traditional peristaltic pump that can move as much fluid so quickly.
Of course, there are only certain circumstances when you'd want to do this, and since the blood pressure cuff method works just fine, I don't see any reason to invest in a specialized pump that would be expensive and delicate. We can just do what we always do: Improvise, adapt, and overcome.
I work in an intensive care unit, and we use this type of pump for our multiple-drip IV units. It is the perfect thing for this kind of application.
In the ICU, we have patients on several IV medications at once, many of which are very powerful and have extremely tight tolerances for dosage. Too much or too little can be harmful and even fatal to the patients, who are already in a fragile condition.
These pumps can be set to very precise dosages, even micrograms per minute. You can literally deliver almost any amount of liquid through the pump. With so many drips going into the patient, and the doses being so precise, it would be extremely difficult and time consuming to try this kind of therapy using manual drips.
It makes sense that these pumps are good at pumping liquids and gels, since they basically work the same way as the digestive system. You put something in a tube, squeeze it, and eventually it comes out the other end. That comes in very handy in medical applications, where you have to put medicines and other things into the human body. It probably has something to do with the body being such a high percentage of water, too.
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