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Apr 22, 2021

Metso Outotec Orion Pumps increase wear life of parts by nearly six times

UK’s largest manufacturer of Aircrete, H+H, was looking to increase the longevity of their pump parts whilst working with a more responsive partner. That’s where Metso Outotec comes in.
Installed Metso outotec Orion HM150 pump with a man standing behind it.
Greg Dixon from Metso Outotec with one of the installed Orion HM150 Pumps

H+H produces Aircrete, a lightweight masonry material that combines the strength, durability, and thermal efficiency of concrete with the convenience of a lighter material that is easy to cut and work with on-site. The materials used in the manufacture of H+H Aircrete are: sand, pulverized fuel ash (PFA), cement, lime, and water.

These are combined into a slurry with a small amount of aluminum powder added to the mix.  This initiates a chemical reaction, generating minute bubbles that form the characteristic aircrete structure and appearance. When the mixture has partially set, the resultant “cakes” are wire-cut into blocks or panels and transferred into autoclaves for high-pressure curing.

Pumps are used in the process at various locations including what is known as ”batch feed”, the most aggressive area of the process. That is where the block-making machines are fed with a thick slurry containing fly ash, sand, water, quicklime or lime sludge, cement, aluminum powder, and gypsum, with exact proportions dependent on client specifications. The slurry density was fairly consistent at approximately 1.6 SG.


  • Insufficient wear life of pumps parts
  • Blockages
  • Low production rates


  • Two Metso Outotec Orion HM150 pumps


  • Extended wear life of parts
  • Higher availability

Insufficient wear life with their previous pumps

Unsatisfied with their existing supplier’s pumps, H+H contacted Metso Outotec in hope we could find a solution to three main issues:

  • Insufficient life from their existing 3rd party pumps, as the pulverized fuel ash (PFA) used to feed the process got coarser overtime. Originally, it had been possible to use rubber pumps because of the finer nature of the PFA. However, as the feed became coarser over time, this accelerated damage to the wear.
  • Blockages were occurring with standard closed impellers that led to suboptimal production rates
  • Spares requirement of the customer was not being met

“By discussing with the operational process staff, we were able to identify numerous operational issues that were occurring,” says Steve Sedgewick – Senior Manager, Pumps Business Line at Metso Outotec. “With our expertise, we were able to resolve these issues for the customer in our product offer.”

The Metso Outotec solution

The customer’s design criteria for the process was to use existing motor sizes whilst matching the flow and head of the current installations. Additionally, they hoped for equipment that would provide a good wear life without incurring process incidents such as blockages.

Metso Outotec first provided an Orion HM150 pump on trial at H+H’s Pollington site in Yorkshire.

“With this trial, we were able to prove our product versus existing pumps and pumps from competitors”, says Greg Dixon - Senior Pump Sales Manager, Europe at Metso Outotec.

The Metso Outotec Orion Heavy Duty pumps are designed for the toughest pumping applications. The Heavy-duty Metal variant (HM) features a class-leading design, with extra thick sections at known points of wear and a high aspect ratio impeller. This results in a long wear life as well as excellent performance.

“Wear life and performance are further optimized through the modular pump design which provides a choice of impeller design and gland seal options,” adds Greg. ”For this particular application, we offered a solution to their issues that their existing supplier was not able to provide an equivalent for.”

Metso Outotec Orion HM150 Pump
Metso Outotec Orion HM150 Pump
This is a significant climb in wear life. We were very happy that the pump was installed and operated flawlessly throughout the required duration.
Alan Humphreys, Maintenance Supervisor at H+H

Due to our extensive experience on mechanical seals and gland arrangements, we were able to offer guidance on the correct sealing arrangement and correct installation to ensure no performance problems.

Each site had its individual gland preferences. For the Pollington site, we installed double mechanical BA type seals with Tungsten Carbide faces which used the client's existing barrier fluid system. For the Sevenoaks site, we installed EnviroSetTM flushed water glands which have automatic water feed valves to ensure gland water was present before the pump starts operations and is switched off when it stops. 

Finally, to ensure that we addressed H+H’s spare part concerns, we were able to prove that we stocked the most common parts that were required to keep the pumps operational.

“The delivery and performance of the experts at Metso Outotec was exactly as promised and delivered on time,” says Alan Humphreys - Maintenance Supervisor at H+H.

Wear life extends to nearly 6 times

 The initial trial proved to be successful, and a secondary pump was bought. Due to the success at the Pollington site, H+H approached Metso Outotec for a second test where pumps were trialed in two parts of the production process. These pumps stretched the wear life from approximately 2 months (with competitor products), to almost 1 year with the Metso Outotec Orion pumps.

”This is a significant climb in wear life,” continues Alan. "We were very happy that the pump was installed and operated flawlessly throughout the required duration.”

Detail of Metso Outotec Orion HM150 pump
Pump after 3 months trial operation

Responsive to customer needs

A key quality that impressed Alan Humphreys at H+H was how responsive Metso Outotec’s team were to inquiries and support requests, as well as the experience and knowledge that allowed them to suggest the solutions to their previously unsolved problems.

“We contacted Greg Dixon at Metso Outotec who responded very quickly to our request,” says Alan. "They were traveling to another customer site and adapted their travel plans just so they were able to visit our site that very same day.”

Along with being at the forefront of sustainable technologies, another customer requirement that Metso Outotec addressed was related to spare parts.

“In any production process, we must have parts available so that when a pump is no longer able to operate, the pump can be repaired and production continues,” Alan adds. "For us, the spare parts solution that Metso Outotec implemented has delivered a step-change in responsive support compared to our previous supplier.”

At Metso Outotec, we are in a unique position to partner with our customers to ensure their success. It is our core expertise to help our customers transform their operations, and in turn, transform the industry. That is why we are the partner for positive change.

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