Flow Ripple Reduction in Reciprocating Pumps by Multi-Phase Rectification

G. Özkayar*, Z. Wang, J.C. Lötters, M. Tichem, M.K. Ghatkesar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Reciprocating piezoelectric micropumps enable miniaturization in microfluidics for lab-on-a-chip applications such as organs-on-chips (OoC). However, achieving a steady flow when using these micropumps is a significant challenge because of flow ripples in the displaced liquid, especially at low frequencies or low flow rates (<50 µL/min). Although dampers are widely used for reducing ripples in a flow, their efficiency depends on the driving frequency of the pump. Here, we investigated multi-phase rectification as an approach to minimize ripples at low flow rates by connecting piezoelectric micropumps in parallel. The efficiency in ripple reduction was evaluated with an increasing number (n) of pumps connected in parallel, each actuated by an alternating voltage waveform with a phase difference of 2π/n (called multi-phase rectification) at a chosen frequency. We introduce a fluidic ripple factor ((Formula presented.)), which is the ratio of the root mean square ((Formula presented.)) value of the fluctuations present in the rectified output to the average fluctuation-free value of the discharge flow, as a metric to express the quality of the flow. The fluidic ripple factor was reduced by more than 90% by using three-phase rectification when compared to one-phase rectification in the 2–60 μL/min flow rate range. Analytical equations to estimate the fluidic ripple factor for a chosen number of pumps connected in parallel are presented, and we experimentally confirmed up to four pumps. The analysis shown can be used to design a frequency-independent multi-phase fluid rectifier to the desired ripple level in a flow for reciprocating pumps.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6967
Number of pages25
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • micropump
  • reciprocating pump
  • flow ripple
  • fluidic rectification
  • multi-phase rectifier


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