Thursday 18th Aug, 2022

Keeping flocculant free from fluid

To keep a flocculent storage system free of moisture, Transmin and Scutti teamed up to create a custom silo design.

To keep a flocculant storage system free of moisture, Transmin and Scutti teamed up to create a custom silo design.

The story starts with an iron mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region that needed to store a significant amount of flocculant on site. 

The site needed a large amount of the material in storage, as regular deliveries of flocculant to such a remote location were not common. On top of this, the mine wanted to reduce risks to production, as cyclonic weather could make it difficult to receive shipments.

It contracted an engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) company to design and deliver a new process plant on-site. The company wanted to have at least 200m3 of storage that could produce 75 m3 of flocculant solution per hour, after the water is added.

The EPCM reached out to bulk materials handling equipment specialist Transmin to provide the silos necessary for the project.

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Damian Thorpe, Transmin’s product manager – feeders, reagent plants and silos, said flocculant needed to be completely dry while in storage, otherwise it would not flow through the rest of the system.

“Any moisture introduced will cause the flocculant to gum up, become slimy and gooey,” he said. 

“The customer wanted to avoid this, which is why we added extra components and changed the design of the silo to accommodate.”

The silo would be built in a desert, where extreme changes in temperature could cause condensation to form on the inside of the structure. To avoid this situation, Transmin added desiccant breathers to absorb any moisture within the silo itself.

It also included additional seals on the fill pipe to limit moisture ingress. The lower section of the silo was enclosed and welded to the legs.

Thorpe said that most silos had legs and structural bracings in the open, but this wouldn’t be possible in this instance.

“The client wanted to reduce weather and spray from washdowns getting anywhere near the dry feed system,” he said.

Transmin is the Australian distributor of Italian-based silo manufacturer Scutti. What sets Scutti silos apart is the Meccano-style of its bolted construction that allows the silos to be constructed with minimal welding and shipped to site through standard containers.

This means Scutti silos can be manufactured in Italy and shipped to almost anywhere in the world through existing supply-chain infrastructure. 

Originally built for the cement and lime industries, the silos can store most bulk solids, including, soda ash, sand, crushed glass, sugar or grain. Transmin has found the silos to be popular in the mining and minerals processing industries, with a smaller portion from water and wastewater treatment.

The two companies collaborated closely with the client to ensure design changes would meet the rigorous requirements.

“We submitted a draft for the plant, the customer sent through their revisions, and we took those notes to Scutti and our internal engineering team,” Thorpe said.

“From that, we drafted two proposed solutions and went back and forth with the client to make sure it would work for them.

“It’s important to have these conversations and set expectations up front. We talked through any concerns during the sales process and passed on key information to ensure there would be no issues later down the line.”

Scutti and Transmin also offer additional equipment, such as screw conveyors, dust filters and powder valves along with the silo. The silos can also be equipped with Scutti’s own condition-monitoring system.

Transmin also supports its customers through its aftermarket team, made up of spare parts specialists, on-site service technicians and off-site engineers, all of whom are based in Perth. These specialists are sent out to sites around the world to ensure any issues can be cleared up as quickly as possible.

Thorpe said a key benefit Transmin offers is its ability to provide multiple equipment packages on a single project.

The business can deliver several key bulk handling equipment, such as low-profile feeders, conveyor systems, rock breakers, pulleys, belt weighers and consumables. It also aims to continue growing its range of products, especially when it comes to rollers, composite rollers and conveyor guarding.

“Our product offering means we can provide the equipment for most bulk handling projects, whether it is for a flocculant preparation facility or an agricultural lime silo,” he said.