rotary vane pump — A rotary vane pump is a positive-displacement pump that consists of vanes mounted to a rotor that rotates inside of a cavity. In some cases these vanes can be variable length and/or tensioned to maintain contact with the walls as the pump rotates. The most simple vane pump is a circular rotor rotating inside of 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. Often this inlet pressure is nothing more than pressure from the atmosphere. On the discharge side of the pump, the vane chambers are decreasing in volume, forcing fluid out of the pump. The action of the vane drives out the same volume of fluid with each rotation. Multistage rotary vane vacuum pumps can attain pressures as low as 10-3 mbar (0.1 Pa).
References: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotary_vane_pump