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Conveying hygroscopic chemicals in Australia

How do you handle chemicals with climate-sensitive flow properties? That’s the challenge for companies who produce resins and melamine using urea prills. The hygroscopic material becomes difficult to handle when it absorbs moisture. For a multinational chemical company with a West Australian operation, the problem is compounded by volume and reliability requirements – and an open storage pit exposed to extreme weather conditions.


Here’s a case study on how they’ve managed the problem since 2006.


Using urea in chemical manufacturing operations

The company’s open storage pit receives around 88 tonnes of urea three times a week. The urea is then elevated out of the pit and into a 180 ton external storage silo. In addition to dealing with high-volume bulk material handling, the site had additional challenges:

  1. The shallow angle of the stainless steel pit liner made it impossible to install a vertical conveying unit.
  2. Equipment reliability was essential because maintenance was scheduled once a year during an annual Christmas shutdown period.
  3. The pit was located in an area exposed to humidity, rain and extreme heat. Conveying equipment needed to operate with minimal product retention since these climatic factors cause any urea residue to liquefy and then crystalise as a solid mass.

How to quickly and safely convey urea prill

To overcome the first challenge, Floveyor was able to link two F5 Floveyors to elevate the urea from the shallow pit to the centre inlet of a silo. The machinery has a small footprint and a top-mounted drive, so it worked well in the pit. The throughput for this configuration was over 80 tonnes per hour, more than double the chemical company’s requirement of a minimum of 30 tons per hour. This meant the urea could be stored quickly and safely before absorbing moisture.


Total batch transfer is common in Floveyors and this case is no different. At the end of the day’s transfer, any minimal residue of urea prills in the infeed trough are blown clear by a small air nozzle. This efficient dry cleaning process leaves only a fine dusting of urea in the conveyor, that does not crystalise overnight.


Annual maintenance is easy and involves removing the stainless steel grid and pit insert to inspect the inlet housing, sprocket, and single bearing. It’s an efficient process and purposely engineered to work effortlessly in a restricted space.


One additional advantage realised by the chemical company is that the two Floveyors are powered by an energy efficient 5 kw motor. This provides additional operational benefit and reduces the overall cost of ownership.


The result is a high-volume transfer of urea year after year without incident. In addition, the Floveyors have maintained equipment reliability in a high-pressure resin manufacturing operation despite minimal maintenance.


Using a Floveyor in your chemical bulk materials handling


If you would like more information about how Floveyor machinery can contribute to the safe and efficient handling of hygroscopic materials, get in touch with us. We are powder handling specialists for the chemical industry and can help you find the right solution for your brownfield or greenfield operation.