High Temperature Line Vac Helps to Recondition Ceramic Balls for a Reactor

25mm Ceramic Balls

The other day I was talking to an operation manager about his fixed-bed reactors.  These reactors are large tanks filled with different layers of material.  The main component of the bed consisted of catalyst pellets which were placed in a centralized layer in the middle of the tank.  Above and below the catalyst pellets, they used different sizes of ceramic balls to create a gradient buffer.  This was important to disperse the gas to utilize the entire catalyst bed and reduce the possibility of channeling.  The tanks were designed with a dump flange mounted at the bottom; so, when the catalyst material was used up, they could dump all the material from the tank and replenish.  In recycling the reactors, they could reuse the ceramic balls after they have been reconditioned.

As we discussed the details further about the reconditioning process, the material from the reactor was dumped into drums and separated manually.  The catalyst material was discarded; leaving the ceramic balls.  The ceramic balls came in three different diameters, 6mm, 13mm, and 25mm.  To separate these, they would slide three empty wire-meshed trays into the oven, and placed a specific diameter into a corresponding tray.  Once the oven was filled with the ceramic balls, they would heat the oven to 400 deg. C.  This would burn off any dangerous material that was collected on the surface from the process within the reactors.  After the heat cycle, they would have to wait approximately one hour until the ceramic balls were cool enough to handle.  After the cooling period, they would use a shovel to remove the ceramic balls from the trays.

The reconditioned ceramic balls were placed in storage drums and kept until they had to recycle another reactor.  The removal of the ceramic balls from the oven would take an additional half hour to complete.  The entire reconditioning process was labor intensive, time consuming, and ergonomically a safety issue.  For each oven, they were only getting two cycles per day to recondition the ceramic balls.  With the number of reactors that they had, they needed to either decrease the downtime for the oven, or purchase another batch oven.

High Temperature Line Vac

After discovering the EXAIR website, they were intrigued with the Air Operated Conveyors (Line Vacs).  If they could remove the ceramic balls at a much higher temperature, then this would allow them to reduce the cycle time.  The EXAIR Air Operated Conveyor is a great product for moving bulk items over a short distance without manually having to shovel it, transfer it, or lift it.  With the customer’s goal to minimize the downtime with the batch oven, I recommended the EXAIR model HT6064 2” Stainless Steel High Temperature Line Vac.  With some standard PPE (Personal Protection Equipment), they could remove the ceramic balls from the oven without waiting for it to cool.  The model HT6064 has a maximum temperature rating of 482 deg. C and a throat diameter of 45mm; large enough to move all three sizes of the ceramic balls.

The Line Vac, or Air Operated Conveyor, operates by using compressed air to generate a vacuum.  It does not have any motors or moving parts to wear, and the inline design makes it easy to attach a transfer hose to the vacuum and exhaust ports.  Personnel could now stand near the oven; stick the high temperature duct into the tray, remove all the ceramic balls, and transfer them to a nearby drum.  By using the High Temperature Line Vac, they were able to reduce the oven down-time to only 15 minutes.  This was plenty enough to reach the goal of increasing the cycles per day. As an added benefit, the back-breaking work of shoveling was removed; thus, increasing the health and safety of the workers.

If your company manually moves dry bulk products from point A to point B, you can contact an EXAIR Application Engineer to see if an Air Operated Conveyor could improve your process.  For my customer, the HT6064 Line Vac improved the speed of their reconditioning process, and it took away the pain of shoveling which made this process undesirable for the personnel.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Taming The Dust Cloud With EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles

Have you ever dropped one of your nice dinner plates on a tiled kitchen floor? And noticed how they seem to go in slow motion as they hurtle to their doom? I never cease to be impressed at how far some of the smaller pieces can go. I recently had to replace our oven, and I found broken dishware shards (and an impressive amount of trash scraps, pet toys, and ‘dust bunnies’) all the way against the back wall.

Curiously, as small as the pieces can be when a dinner plate meets its end, it started its life in even smaller pieces…as a fine ceramic powder, pressed into a mold and heated to a temperature that is WAY hotter than when the server at your favorite restaurant warns you that plate “might be hot.”

I’m writing about this because recently, I had the pleasure of assisting a maker of ceramic dishware with a messy little problem…this fine ceramic powder is moved from where it’s produced, to the various mold stations (dinner plates, salad plates, saucers, etc.) on a vibratory belt conveyor. The vibration keeps the powder loose and homogenous, both of which are extremely important to the molding & firing process. It also causes a cloud of dust to rise along the entire length of travel, and they wanted to minimize this. Their chemists had told the engineer who called me that they could live with a small amount of moisture, as long as it wasn’t enough to make the powder clump up – this would evaporate out at a point closer to the molds anyway.

This was an ideal application for the EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles…they produce a fine mist of liquid that is precisely controllable…one Model AW1010SS Internal Mix, Wide Angle Round Pattern Nozzle was installed near the beginning of the line, and once they find out how long it takes the dust-suppression supplied by the misted water to evaporate away, they will install more nozzles accordingly.

EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles are a perfect solution for dust suppression.

EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles are a perfect solution for dust suppression.

EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles are ideal for situations where you need a fine liquid mist and fine adjustment of the flow & pattern. With ninety models to choose from, we’ve got the one you’re looking for. Call me if you want to find out more.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Heavy Duty Line Vac is a Simple Solution When Mechanical Conveyors Fail

 

Line Vacs can convey many things.

Line Vacs can convey many things.

 

A manufacturing plant had a machine that would process 6mm ceramic beads into small medical components.  They used a screw type conveyor to move the ceramic beads from a large container into a hopper above the machine.  In this situation, the customer called EXAIR prior to determining which mechanical component failed.  They contacted the conveyor manufacturer for assistance.  Because of the complexity of the conveying system, it would take time to evaluate.  They had to determine if it was the motor, the gear box, the shaft, or electrical system.  Depending on which item that failed, there was a good chance that it would not be in stock.  With this length of downtime, it would cost the company much money and delays in shipments. The operation had to be shut down until they could find a way to keep the hopper filled with ceramic beads.  Being that they were under the gun, they contacted EXAIR to see if we could help.

Heavy Duty Line Vac

Heavy Duty Line Vac

In discussing their layout, the hopper was 10 feet away from the supply container, and the opening of the hopper was 10 feet above the floor.  These lengths were well within the limits of the EXAIR Air Operated Conveyors.  I suggested the model 152200 Heavy Duty Line Vac Kit.  This unit has the highest conveyance rate, and it can move items in the range of plastic pellets to steel shot.  It does not have any moving parts, so it makes it very simple, reliable, and long lasting.  The Heavy Duty Line Vac is made of a hardened steel that makes it very resistant to abrasion.  The next question he asked was if we had it in stock.   We did!!!  EXAIR stocks every cataloged model number for same day shipping with orders placed before 3 p.m. EST.  We were able to ship the Heavy Duty Line Vac that same day to get his operation back up and running.  He did mention to me afterwards that he wished he had at least one Heavy Duty Line Vac on his shelf as a backup system.  It could have saved his company an entire day of downtime.

If your company relies on mechanical conveying systems to move product, you may want to have an EXAIR Air Operated Conveyor on hand just in case of an emergency.  When things go wrong, you do not want to be down any longer than needed.  If you need help in sizing the correct Line Vac for your application, you can contact an Application Engineers at EXAIR.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

EXAIR Heavy Duty Line Vac Re-Loads Rainfall Sander

In the world of lost wax casting a wax pattern is created and then fused to a wax runner system along with multiples of other patterns or perhaps the same pattern. Once the “tree” of wax patterns is created, the tree is coated with a fine material to reproduce fine details in the pattern and is then “stuccoed” with a coarse, ceramic material. It is this application of the coarse ceramic material process with which my most recent customer needed help. It was not so much the application of the ceramic material to the wax pattern but the refilling of the rainfall sander which is the tool that actually applies the ceramic to the patterns. Below is a photo of a rainfall sander for your reference.

As you can see a fine, water fall-like flow of sand dropping down from above provides the means for the “stuccoing” process.

rain fall sanderHDLV

The problem is that the hoppers for these machines can be in excess of 7 feet above the floor and require replenishing. The idea is to put just the right amount of material into the hopper without over-filling which has been a problem in the past with the customer dumping by hand over-head.

The solution the customer was looking for was the 1-1/2” Heavy Duty Line Vac to be used in a moveable cart-based hopper filling tool with a gallows-type over arm which can be placed above the hopper of each machine to provide the metered filling.

The reasons for picking the Heavy Duty version of the EXAIR Line Vac was for its robust resistance to abrasion from high speed materials moving through the throat area. Heavy Duty Line Vac is made of a high grade, tool steel with a proprietary surface treatment to harden the material even further to make the unit highly resistant to abrasion. The Heavy Duty Line Vac has been used with such materials as silica sand, ground glass and ground garnet for hopper replenishment in abrasive blasting applications, so it could handle the stucco material quite nicely. The higher conveying capacity of the Heavy Duty Line Vac also made quick work of the material being conveyed to make for unobtrusive service.

Neal Raker, EXAIR
nealraker@exair.com

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