Why Turbopumps have been called Turbopumps for the past 50 Years!
When Dr. Willi Becker took over as the head of the laboratory at Arthur Pfeiffer GmbH in 1945, he was interested in all of the possibilities for building pumps. To improve oil diffusion pumps, Becker designed a rotating baffle whose purpose was to keep the oil molecules from the pumps away from recipients. It comprised a rotating impeller and a stationary stator with axially-inverted blades.
Becker found that this enabled a considerable pressure ratio to be generated at the molecular level. It was therefore an obvious move to design a pump by interconnecting multiple such stages in tandem. The only oil this pump required was for lubrication of the bearings.
Fig.1: Dr. Willi Becker 1980 in Pfeiffer Vacuum laboratory
Back in 1916, Gaede had developed molecular pumps that incorporated a fundamentally different geometry requiring a very narrow gap between the stationary and rotating components.
This resulted in a very high risk of destruction through even minute particulate matter. The new pump did not possess this crucial disadvantage. To differentiate the new pump, it was given the prefix “turbo,” because its design was highly reminiscent of a turbine.
It was in the year 1958 that the turbopump was developed at Arthur Pfeiffer GmbH. The objective at that time was to generate a hydrocarbon-free vacuum. Today, turbopumps from Pfeiffer Vacuum are the very embodiment of high-tech products that are highly reliable and offer optimum performance data.
1958 saw the commencement of regular production of the first turbomolecular pump, which achieved a pumping speed of 150 l/s and weighed 95 kg. Although 100 to 200 pumps were manufactured per year during the initial years, predominantly for universities and research institutions, their simple handling and
pure vacuum opened up new fields of application in the analytical industry and in industrial process technology. The breathtaking pace of development of microelectronics and the field of microchips, in particular, would not have been possible without turbopumps, which assure the required high vacuum under extreme conditions.
Fig.2: The history of the turbopump goes back into the year 1958