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A ‘sound solution’ for buildup and bridging

World Cement,

Primasonics® Acoustic Cleaners are widely employed wherever ash, dust and powders are generated, processed, stored or transported. This range of acoustic cleaners has been of tremendous benefit in both preventing material hang-up and ensuring maximum, continuous material flow in silos and hoppers. Indeed, some of Primasonics’ most challenging but successful applications were within silos that contained dry materials such as cement, chemicals, carbon black gypsum and food. Primasonics has solved silo storage problems in over 50 countries worldwide. The two main problem areas within hoppers and silos are:

  • Ratholing – where the material builds up on the sidewalls causing severely reduced “funnel flow”, which also restricts the silo being used to its full storage capacity.
  • Bridging – where the material bridges over the outlet area either severely restricting flow or stopping it completely.

Irrespective as to whether the bulk material storage facility is under 500 kg or over 30 000 kg capacity Primasonics® Audiosonic™ Acoustic Cleaners have eliminated both of these problems. Typical examples range from small 20 t capacity internal pre-packing hoppers right up to 30 000 t capacity cement silos. Where the problem is ratholing with the material building up on the sidewalls, a low frequency, larger Primasonics® Acoustic Cleaner model such as the PAS-60 or PAS-75 is mounted on top of each silo to prevent material wall and thus ensure that the full capacity of the silo is utilised. These units can be located at any position on top of the silo, as sound waves travel at over 344 m/sec. and in a 360° radius. Generally speaking, they are mounted on top of an existing inspection hatch, thus installation is simple and inexpensive. A typical example is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Moving on to silo and hopper discharge, in such applications one of the smaller Primasonics® Audiosonic™ Acoustic Cleaners model such as the PAS-350 or PAS-420 with higher frequencies is employed. The higher the frequency the shorter the wavelength, and so all the acoustic power created by the Wave Generator is concentrated over a much shorter range – say between 1 and 5 m. Therefore a higher frequency Primasonics® Audiosonic™ Acoustic Cleaner mounted just above the discharge will prevent material bridging and ensure maximum material flow. A typical example is given in Figure 2.

Figure 2.

It is important to note and understand the main advantages that Acoustic Cleaners provide. Primasonics Acoustic Cleaners operate at frequencies very much higher than the resonance frequency of steel, ceramic lining, concrete, etc. Therefore Primasonics Acoustic Cleaners are guaranteed not to cause vibrational damage to any vessel or structure. This is quite unlike vibrators, which by their very nature and method of installation, cause vibration and stress weaknesses within the vessel or structure to which they are attached. The vibration resonances first have to pass through the vessel wall before reaching the material. With the Acoustic Cleaner, the higher frequencies are directly absorbed into material giving 100% efficiency.

Air cannons/blasters seek to affect a very localised cure for a blockage problem, which has already occurred. In many cases the air cannon simply “blows” a localised hole through the blockage, necessitating the installation of many air cannons within the general problem area. On the other hand, with Primasonics Acoustic Cleaners a single Acoustic Cleaner can replace multi air cannons. Primasonics approaches the problem from the philosophy of preventing the buildup from occurring in the first place.

How do Primasonics® Acoustic Cleaners work?

Acoustic cleaners are extremely simple in their operation, requiring only normal plant compressed air for their initial energy source. Compressed air enters the Wave Generator and forces the only moving part, the ultra high-grade titanium diaphragm, to oscillate very rapidly within its specially designed housing. These rapid oscillations create the base tone and the various different bell sections convert, amplify and distribute this base tone into a range of different key fundamental frequencies. Primasonics has selected seven such key fundamental frequencies for its Audiosonic Acoustic Cleaner range from 60 Hz to 420 Hz. The acoustic cleaners only require activating for a few seconds at periodical intervals. The Prima Range of Acoustic Cleaners is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3.

Primasonics® Audiosonic™ Acoustic Cleaners are aiding material flow from hoppers and silos in such diverse industries as cement, gypsum, flour, MDF wood products, ceramics, chemicals, carbon black, petrochemicals and power plants. They are also employed in a range of ancillary plant such as filters, cyclones, fans, ductwork, SCRs, ESPs and steam/power generation plants.

Adapted from press release by

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