A vane pump is a positive-displacement pump that consists of vanes mounted to a rotor that rotates inside a cavity. In some cases these vanes can have variable length and/or be tensioned to maintain contact with the walls as the pump rotates.
The simplest vane pump has a circular rotor rotating inside a larger circular cavity. The centers of these two circles are offset, causing eccentricity. Vanes are allowed to slide into and out of the rotor and seal on all edges, creating vane chambers that do the pumping work. On the intake side of the pump, the vane chambers are increasing in volume. These increasing-volume vane chambers are filled with fluid forced in by the inlet pressure. Inlet pressure is actually the pressure from the system being pumped, often just the atmosphere. On the discharge side of the pump, the vane chambers are decreasing in volume, forcing fluid out of the pump.
Vane pumps are commonly used as high-pressure hydraulic pumps and in automobiles, including supercharging, power-steering, air conditioning and automatic-transmission pumps. Pumps for mid-range pressures include applications such as carbonators for fountain soft-drink dispensers and espresso coffee machines. Furthermore, vane pumps can be used in low-pressure gas applications such as secondary air injection for auto exhaust emission control, or in low-pressure chemical vapor deposition systems.