Oil soaked waters, absorbent oil booms and static?


Unfortunately, oil spills and leaks are becoming an all too common sight for areas in and around the Gulf of Mexico. It appears that BP and the government have regained control of the blown out oil well. Focus will obviously be shifting to the huge clean-up effort under way.

With this in mind, companies who make the oil containment and absorbent booms are ramping up production to be ready for the increase. One such manufacturer contacted EXAIR recently for help in solving one of their production problems.

The absorbent material gets blown into a long, sock-like, structure through a 4 inch diameter hose. The absorbent material is polypropylene which is also a non-conducting material. As you can imagine, when you blow a non-conductive material through a hose that is also non-conducting, you end up with a rather large static charge that causes tremendous feeding problems. Material becomes bridged inside the hose and blocks the flow which stops the filling process.

The customer was looking for a reasonable way in which the static could be kept to a reduced level so that the process could run, un-interrupted, for as long as needed to meet the new, higher demand. The production engineer involved knew that EXAIR provides a variety of static elimination solutions for industrial applications and so he contacted with us to discuss the options.

Once I had an understanding of what he needed, I was able to recommend use of (4) Model 7199 Ionizing Points and (1) model 7940 Four outlet power supply to create an ionizing collar that could be mounted in-line with the existing 4” hose to supply the needed ions to keep the inside of the production hose static free. Note: the customer did have to make their own conductive collar to ease mounting of the Ionizing points into the conveying line, but that was a small matter due to the problem being such a difficult one to solve any other way. An “ionizing collar” would be what I would call a conductive piece of pipe large enough to fit into the existing conveying line and which has holes drilled and tapped into its side to accommodate mounting of the Ionizing Points.

Before I continue, you might ask, “Why didn’t they try static dissipative (conductive) hose?”. They did, and soon found out that while there was a small improvement due to the conductive nature, it still was only a passive means for static reduction. There was so much static being generated that the customer needed an active system like the Ionizing Point to keep static out of the filling hose completely.

The customer was able to install their static eliminating collar, with Ionizing Points, into the fill line and run production smoothly, without having to stop to clean out the fill hose every 10 minutes. The solution was so successful that the customer is going to make more units to accommodate their other 7 filling lines.

Hopefully, the story with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will have the same good ending as did our customer’s application story and we can all return to our wonderful, pristine beaches again.

Neal Raker
Application Engineer