Filling a Floating Barge of HDPE

I spoke with a customer who had one million high density polyethylene hollow plastic balls. You might have seen these HDPE balls at your local amusement park in the ball pit.  What many of us see as novelty toys, actually have some real uses in industry that can not be replicated using any other method.  According to ECC, LLC, these plastic balls are used in storage tanks in the oil, coal, and chemical industry to cover the top of liquids.  By covering the top of these liquids, it creates a barrier, which limits heat transfer, as well as limiting the transfer of oxygen, carbon dioxide or liquid to the environment.


In most cases the installation process for these balls is to dump them out the back of the truck, but my customer wanted to use them to fill up a floating barge that was beginning to fill with water.  By filling the barge with these HDPE balls, the water would be displaced and the barge would remain afloat as repairs or removal took place.  His problem was how to get one million 4″ diameter balls into a floating barge without dumping everyone of the super sacks into a funnel by hand or with a crane.  EXAIR solution was the 6088, 5″ aluminum Line Vac.  The customer had compressed air at the dock and was able to supply 80 psig to the Line Vac.  He attached five feet of hose to the suction side of the Line Vac and 40 feet to the discharge side.  He was able to move the one million HPDE balls quickly and neatly with no back breaking labor.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer

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