A rapidly growing global population is driving the endless need for goods hence there is an ever-growing demand for the movement of bulk materials. “Moving goods through pipes from one point to another using air i.e. pneumatic conveying, is an extremely efficient method of transporting a great variety of products, provided that the right system is used and that it’s done correctly,” states JC Lombard, Atlas Copco Compressor Technique Business Line Manager, Oil-free Air Division.

Air can be used to move materials ranging from powders, sand and grains to pellets, plastics and fly ash. Given the tremendous versatility and efficiency of pneumatic conveying, combined with the process’s ability to move vast types of different materials, it’s easily one of the most widely used forms of materials handling. Unsurprisingly pneumatic conveying is favoured by a great many diverse industries such as food & beverage, pharmaceuticals, mining, and even waste water treatment. Atlas Copco Compressor Technique offers a broad range of pneumatic conveying solutions that include air compressors, air blowers (screw, lobe, centrifugal and turbo) and ancillary products to meet the bespoke needs of these industries.

“Due to the wide range of materials that can be transported via pneumatic conveying, a one-size-fits-all solution is simply not possible,” continues Lombard. “While some materials can be moved more quickly and in greater volumes, other more fragile materials require careful transportation to avoid damage. Conveying of powdery substances for example, can create dust and some substances can potentially be explosive.”

To meet the varying requirements of the materials, there are different pneumatic conveying methods i.e. Dilute phase, Dense phase and Transient phase. Lombard says that it’s therefore imperative to know the properties and requirements of the material that will be conveyed in order to be able to select the most appropriate conveying system that will guarantee optimum performance and product quality, and mitigate the risk of potential blockages and combustion.

Dilute phase uses a blower or low-pressure compressor to send material through the pipeline in a high-velocity stream, as though the material is floating, without material accumulation at the bottom of the pipe. As this process moves material at high speed, it is ideal for transporting any form of granular materials. Dense phase conveying operates at a slower velocity, ensuring gentle handling over longer distances. This method it suitable for more fragile materials like powdered ceramics. The transient phase, which is the stage in-between the Dilute and Dense phases, sends some of the material ‘flying’ through the pipeline while some of it is moved along the sides.

Atlas Copco also offers pressure and vacuum conveying systems. “Pressure conveying is ideal for effectively ‘pushing’ bulk materials over long distances and is used in cement production for instance to move cement from the silo through a pipeline for processing,” explains Lombard. “In contrast, vacuum conveying, also known as negative conveying, uses air suction to draw materials through a pipeline, reducing contamination risks. This method is favoured by pharmaceutical manufacturers for transporting sensitive powders through a sealed system, ensuring product purity and product safety.”

The versatility of Atlas Copco’s low-pressure blowers makes these machines suitable for highly regulated industries like food & beverage and pharmaceutical where product purity is non-negotiable. These machines are also ideal for multi-applications typically found in the cement industry that relies on efficient pneumatic conveying for various stages of production, from conveying materials at the start of the production process, to bagging the final product.

The mining industry uses low-pressure technologies during heap leaching; low pressure air is blown through the leaching pad to enhance the scientific chemical process of dissolving minerals from the ore, leading to extraction efficiency. Low-pressure systems are also key to effective wastewater treatment, supporting the aeration, sedimentation, and filtration processes necessary for coping with high the volumes of contaminated water produced by mining operations. Lombard points out that the continuous and effective operation of these low-pressure technologies will lead to compliance with environmental regulations and minimise the negative impacts of mining on ecosystems.

Choosing the right pneumatic conveyance system is critical as it will contribute to cutting down costs through reduced energy expenses and unloading durations as well as the prevention of blockages with associated downtime, unproductivity and even potential product damage. Lombard notes however that calculating the optimal size of the compressor or blower for a particular pneumatic conveying application requires experience, expert skills and specialised software. “We are able to assist our customers in overcoming these challenges. Following a site inspection by Compressor Technique’s team of specialists, we are able to recommend the best, most efficient pneumatic conveying solution for each application ensuring uninterrupted, efficient operations and product integrity for ultimate sustainable business success,” concludes Lombard.

By Admin