Bitumen is a black viscous product that is used in asphalt, road surfacing, and roofing materials. Much of this product is moved by either railcars or tractor trailers to other industries. Some precautions are needed when handling this product as the fumes can irritate the eyes, throat, and nose.
A plant that manufactures bitumen contacted EXAIR to see if we had a product that could improve their existing system. They were using a 6” (15 cm) venturi type air mover that was large and cumbersome. It had a funnel that extended from the outlet by 4 feet (1.2m), and it weighed over 22 lbs (10 Kg.) The air consumption of this unit was 81 SCFM (2,294 SLPM) of compressed air at 80 PSIG (5.5 bar). They had to maneuver this heavy device by hand around an elevated platform. The platform was designed with two smaller platforms that are positioned over the vehicles that they are filled for transport. One platform extended over a rail for railcars and the other platform extended over a driveway for tankards. The air mover had to be moved and positioned near the filling areas to capture the fumes. It was heavy, awkward, and in the way.
Their filling procedure was to place the air mover near the opening of the hatch to remove the irritating fumes away from the operators. The filling pipe was 4 inch (10cm) in diameter, and it was spring assisted for easy positioning. Depending on the vehicle type, they would open a hatch ranging from 12 inches (30.5cm) to 16 inches (40.6cm) in diameter to fill. The operator would then position the air mover near the opening, insert the fill pipe, and start filling. The air mover was turned on to draw the vapor coming out of the hatch. Because of its weight and size, the air mover had to be positioned on the platform at the edge of the hatch opening. This was not optimum as some of the fumes could still escape at the farthest point away from the air mover. Once the railcar or tanker was filled, they would move everything to the opposite platform to fill the next vehicle. Because of the design of the platforms and the size and weight of the air mover, there was a high possibility for personnel to become injured from the re-positioning process. The customer wanted a more effective and ergonomic solution.
The customer added some additional details about his operation. Because bitumen is a tar-like substance, it sticks and gets on everything, they would place dirty parts in an oven to melt the bitumen off the surfaces. With this high temperature requirement and the size of the opening of the hatches that had to be covered, I suggested a 4 inch (10cm), Stainless Steel Adjustable Air Amplifier, model 6034.
EXAIR Air Amplifiers, have a large amplification ratio (the ratio between the amount of ambient air being moved compared to the amount of compressed air used). The suggested model, is set for a 24:1 amplification ratio. This helps greatly to draw in the fumes and smoke in the surrounding area to increase overall effectiveness and to reduce compressed air consumption. With the size and weight of the EXAIR Adjustable Air Amplifier being much smaller than their present solution, they could mount it directly onto the side of the spring-assisted pipe used to fill the tankers with the product. (The weight of the model 6034 is only 9 lbs. (4.1 Kg)) This was a major ergonomic success. They did not have to worry about their operators hurting themselves moving a big, heavy, air mover, and it allowed the mouth of the Air Amplifier to be positioned right over the opening of the hatch. This helped to catch all the fumes. As a bonus, the model 6034 consumes only 50 SCFM (1,416 SLPM) of compressed air at 80 PSIG (5.5 bar). The Adjustable Air Amplifier allowed for a reduction of 38% in compressed air usage when compared to the old method. By switching to the EXAIR Air Amplifier, it saved them time, pain, money, and tears from eye irritation.
If you have an application where smoke and fumes are a nuisance, Air Amplifiers are a great way to pack a lot of power into a small space for a variety of blowing and venting applications.
John Ball, Application Engineer