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Oil Pump Tech Talk: Pressure and Volume

GM Pro Series Drag Race Oil PumpA positive-displacement oil pump (including all spur-gear and georotor designs) pushes the same amount of fluid with each revolution of its input shaft. Theoretically, if the speed of the pump is doubled, twice as much oil is pumped. However, this principle applies only up to that point at which cavitation starts.

Cavitation occurs when the pump tries to suck the oil faster than it can enter the pump, and a higher vacuum is created, causing more gas bubbles to form. Simplistically put, if you double the pressure on a bubble, its volume gets cut roughly in half. Double the pressure again, and the bubble again shrinks by half. At some point, the bubble implodes at the speed of sound and returns to a liquid state. This implosion sends off a small but violent shock wave that takes away a little bit of any metal that's around it. This is what we call cavitation. (The same principle is constructively applied in sonic cleaning.) Conventional wet-sump pumps will live with it until, all of a sudden, the cavitation intensifies to a point that the pump housing just breaks apart.

A high-volume pump doesn't necessarily deliver a higher volume of oil to the engine. Each oil pump's built-in pressure regulator maintains oil pressure at or below a set cutoff point (Chart 2). Volume (flow) and pressure are related: You can't pump a higher volume of oil through any given engine without increasing the pressure at which you pump it. Since your pump's output pressure is regulated, the same amount of oil will be pushed through the engine no matter how big a pump you have. Flow is a function both of pressure and the engine through which the oil is moving. The pressure increases with engine speed until the pressure regulator kicks in and recirculates all the excess oil within the pump.

An effective racing oil pump will get the volume up quickly as the engine initially accelerates (Chart 2), then prevent cavitation at higher rpm. Each Titan model is specifically engineered to rush a large volume of oil to the main bearings, then to prevent cavitation all the way to 12,000-plus rpm.

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