Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Show Report: Pneumatic Conveying Technology at the 2016 Powder & Bulk Solids Conference & Exhibition

The 2016 Powder & Bulk Solids Conference & Exhibition was held May 3-5 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center at Rosemont, Illinois. Sponsored by the Process Equipment Manufacturers’ Association (PEMA®) and produced by UBM Canon, this event celebrated its’ 40th anniversary as the leading event for the powder industry. Whether for dilute or dense phase pneumatic conveying systems, vacuum, blower and compressed air technologies play an important role in this industry.

Tuthill Blower & Vacuum Systems was showing a new M-D Pneumatics™ Enclosed Blower Package for their PD Plus, Qx or CP Series. Three standard cabinets for roughly 500, 1000, and 2000 cfm models accommodate pressures to 18 psig, vacuum to 17 in. Hg and flow to 2200 cfm. Planned to launch in mid-2016, the package is designed to make the optional enclosure and cabinet-mounted controls a better value.  Product Manager John Coghlan also reviewed their upgraded M-D Pneumatics™ CP Series, optimized for up to 20% more flow and now rated for 18 psi (was 15 psi) discharge pressure or 16 in. Hg dry vacuum. John stated the new CP Series has added many standard features designed to reduce maintenance costs. They added a triple-lip seal, standard magnetic plug (used to be optional) and sight glasses on all four sides for oil monitoring. Lastly, I had a great talk with Regional Sales Manager Adam Crampton about “walk-through” blower system assessments - which will be reviewed in the future. You can see some of his thoughts in our May article on Tuthill’s work optimizing systems in food plants.


Tuthill at Bulk Show

Shraddha Jayakumar, Russ Ristow, Adam Crampton and John Coghlan (left to right) at the Tuthill booth.

Atlas Copco isn’t kidding when they say they are “Commited to Sustainable Productivity”. Visiting their booth, I was greeted by a blower specialist (Brian Hill), a vacuum specialist (Steve Nash), a direct sales engineer (Dane Koch), and since we were in Chicago – by the legendary gentleman Mr. Jack Maly, who always sends us encouraging notes. They shared my excitement over how their clients see so much cross-over between blowers, vacuum, air compressors and cooling systems. Dane talked about a major corporation he works with, who has set a huge internal target for energy and water consumption reduction – and each plant feels the pressure (or should I say heat)! He’s currently working on a big project to reduce kW and water consumption for this company - by replacing liquid ring vacuum pumps with rotary screw pumps (which don’t need cooling water).


 Atlas Copco at Powder Show

Brian Hill, Dane Koch, Jack Maly and Steve Nash (left to right) at the Atlas Copco booth.

The technology offerings, by Atlas Copco are vast and I’ll name a few we reviewed: ZB VSD direct-drive centrifugal air blowers (135-335 hp), ZM oil-free multistage centrifugal and vacuum blowers (5-3600 hp), and ZS oil-free positive displacement rotary screw blowers (10-500 hp). Brian Hill explained the ZS+ VSD is positioned as “the energy efficient lobe replacement.” Atlas Copco’s long history with air compressor packages is now being used by the ZS Screw blower. They claim energy savings exist (vs. lobe blowers) in the transmission (drive gear vs. belt), the motor, and in compression efficiency (screw vs. lobe). The ZS has a standard TEFC IP55 motor and the VSD targets the market reality that while varying air demand is seen in 92% of air compressor and blower installations, most users have fixed-speed blowers-ideal for only 8% of applications!

The Roots brothers started Roots blowers in 1854. Think about that. A Roots positive displacement blower has become one of those terms like a “Kleenex” – the brand/technology is indistinguishable. In July of 2015, Roots was integrated into Howden and today operates as Howden Roots. Howden Roots today offers a huge portfolio of PD, centrifugal, and turbo fans to service low-pressure applications in pneumatic conveying, gas separation, wastewater aeration, steam compression and petrochemical production with API Certifications.

Howden Roots inside and outside personnel are all extremely well-versed as application engineers - including the systems consulting service they offer. People like Paul Kearney, for example, (North American Sales Manager) and Mike Neiswender (Regional Sales Manager), have spent their careers with Howden Roots advising clients on blower performance optimization. They are also proud of their ability to custom engineer and fabricate PD and centrifugal blowers from their production facility in Connersville, Indiana. One particular package they were talking about is the fully enclosed Roots™ EasyAir™ X2 package.


Howden Roots at Bulk Show

Cher Tan, Laura Golubski, Paul Kearney and Rebecca Gibson (left to right) at the Howden Roots booth.

Kaeser Compressors exhibited both their air compressor and blower packages able to cover dense and dilute phase conveying applications. Blower Product Manager Stephen Horne kindly took some time to get into some engineering details on the quality details built into their Omega positive displacement rotary lobe blower. He explained Kaeser uses spur-cut gears permitting the use of roller bearings featuring longer bearing LIO life. According to Stephen, many PD blowers use helical gears with ball bearings requiring rebuilds with greater frequency. He also pointed out the one-piece casting on the “head”, which reducing “airend slip” and increases the efficiency of the package. Kaeser demonstrated their packages with and without enclosures. Their blower enclosures with “Industry 4.0 controls” look just like their air compressors! At Kaeser, I always enjoy their attention to the smallest details – details which make the difference.


Kaeser at Bulk Show

Steve Dagowitz, Tracy Carter, Kim Pulford and Stephen Horne (left to right) at the Kaeser booth.

Gardner Denver had a massive booth for their blower, vacuum and air compressor technologies. Gardner Denver has an incredibly strong position in what Blower and Vacuum Products Director Kenny Reekie described as “conveying solutions.” There’s no end to unique applications/materials in pneumatic conveying which is why Gardner Denver manufactures so many technology styles ranging from side channel regenerative, Sutorbilt bi-lobe with/without dual splash lube, Duroflow solid bi-lobe, RBS Series tri-lobe, Heliflow twisted tri-lobe, Cycloblower and Cycloblower H.E. rotary screw.  I really liked their “trophy case” showing all the unique airend profiles they manufacture. 


Gardner Denver at Bulk show

Paul Mosher, Kayla Power and Kenny Reekie (left to right) at the Gardner Denver blower and vacuum booth.

This broad technology is clearly why, as I learn more about the pneumatic conveying equipment providers/OEMs, I keep seeing Gardner Denver units integrated into their systems. To assist OEMs, they’ve developed the QuickPik sizing tool to allow design engineers to compare and contrast blowers. Kenny Reekie particularly pointed out the new CycloBlower H.E. Series featuring patented, highly-efficient 3 x 5 helical screw rotor profile which is food-grade PTFE coated.  Three discharge port options optimize efficiencies based upon specific performance needs. The CycloBlower has over 25,000 installations world-wide. The H.E. takes this rotary screw technology to another level offering pressures to 36 psi, vacuum to 22 in. Hg., and flows to 2650 cfm.


Gardner Denver Compressors at the Bulk Expo

Dale Garthus at the Gardner Denver Compressors booth

I enjoyed meeting the folks at Hardy Pro-Air Systems and reviewing their blower and vacuum packages. Joe Soling and Scott Stevenson explained Hardy Systems was founded in 1983 and merged with their service/repair organization in January of 2015.  They were exhibiting their Pro-Closure sound attenuation package for pressures to 15-18 psi. All their standard Pro-Pack blower packages are “Made-in-the-USA” out of their Antioch, Illinois plant. They explained their focus is on industrial applications, such as mine and tunnel ventilation, wastewater aeration and agitation, pneumatic converying, combustion air pressurization and industrial vacuum systems. The company is in an expansion mode, aggressively seeking new reps and distributors.


Hardy Pro-Air

Scott Stevenson, Joe Solving and Dean Pederson (left to right) at the Hardy Pro-Air booth.

Tom Hodanovac, from Eurus Blower, spent some time talking about OEM applications onboard trucks . We discussed their rugged Bulkmaster 6800 dry bulk truck blower. Tom explained the unit is designed to fit onto tractors/trucks to work with fine powders, large pellets, and food products. Due to it’s 20 psi continuous duty pressure and wide speed rating, it’s also suited for cement, sand, fly ash, flour, sugar, grain, pebble lime and plastic pellets. Using different speeds, this tri-lobe rotor uses helical timing gears to provide pressures from 2 to 20 psi and vacuum from 2 to 17 in. Hg. It’s also a rugged unit designed to withstand a pounding.


Eurus Blower at Bulk Show

Tom Hodanovac at the Eurus booth.

The Aerzen booth was very busy with a large contingent of engineers, from a major chemical corporation, who were not only enjoying a German Lager but asking Doug Cagney and Scott Trail about the Delta Hybrid system. This rotary lobe compressor is described by Aerzen as “a technology synergy between the rotary lobe blower and the screw compressor.” It uses a 3+4 rotor profile for low-pressure applications or a 3+3 twisted rotor profile. These belt-drive units offer a 4:1 turndown with the use of a VFD. The Delta Hybrid provdes pressures to 22 psi and vacuum operation has been extended from 15 in. Hg to 21 in. Hg.


Aerzen at Bulk Show

Doug Cagney and Scott Trail hosting clients from a major chemical company at the Aerzen booth.

Solberg is a filtration and separation specialist based in the Chicago area. CEO Charlie Solberg reviewed their JRS AND JST/JCT Series vapor-condensing systems designed to protect vacuum pumps from harmful vapors and liquids. The units use a heat exchanger pack and coolant jacket combination (or a cooling coil system), to condense vapors in the process flow. Any remaining vapors are then separated by dual-type activated carbon filter elements or demisters. He also showed me their SpinMeister™ (great name) ST Series extreme duty vacuum filters. They are designed for high-dust environments.


Solberg at Bulk Show

Charlie Solberg at the Solberg booth

SMC had a booth and Marketing Director John Halvorsen spoke to me about their point of use ionizer used to remove static electricity present in conveying. Due to the charge, material will bridge or get stuck and the ionizer takes care of the problem. It requires very clean, dry compressed air and is pretreated by a SMC membrane dryer with pre-filters. He also confirmed the growing demand for on-machine compressed air flow and pressure metering instruments which they integrate into the SMC air preparation units.


SMC at Bulk Show

John Halvorsen at the SMC booth

Last but not least was Möllers, who builds bag and unit load material handling systems. Their pneumatic packing systems uses bag gripping technology designed by SAS Automation. A core component is the 3-stage PIAB vacuum generator which they say creates more vacuum flow than other brands due to lower cup porocity and is energy-efficient thanks to a pneumatic valve shutting off compressed air supply when idle.


Mollers at the Bulk Expo

John Prator (SAS Automation), Kirk Briggs and Robert Vanocker (left to right) at the Mollers booth.

Pneumatic Conveying Equipment Companies

Coperion K-Tron has been a leader, since its creation in 1964, in material handling applications in the process industries. Their division based in Salina, Kansas manufactures the Aerolock™ rotary valves, filter receivers, bin vents, cyclones, blower and vacuum packages, bag dump stations, diverter valves and custom system controls. General Manager Todd Smith was kind enough to walk me through their vacuum blowers, pressure blowers and vacuum sequencing packages. They provide blowers for 38 mm (1.5 inch) through 400 mm (16 inch) conveying systems up to 700 mBar (20 in) Hg vacuum and 1 Bar (15 psig) pressure in 3 to 250 hp packages. Figuring out which system is optimal takes a lot of engineering. Did you know there are 50 types of wheat flour? Todd used that as an example to explain each application has to establish at what velocity it can be conveyed (in feet-per-minute), at what positive or negative pressure, and what level of abrasiveness can be tolerated (vacuum is often used for more delicate product) by the product.


Coperion at Bulk Show

Todd Smith at the Coperion K-Tron booth

Kice Industries focuses on dilute phase conveying (6-15 psig). They provide all the conveying equipment required in the wheat flour milling, oil seed processing and general applications in the wood, plastic and food industries. Southeastern Regional Sales Manager David Kice explained they have been designing and building their own blower since the late 90’s and the design reflects their application experience. They focus their designs on slower speeds (much slower than 3000 rpm) allowing bearing life estimates to be 150,000 hours, heavy cast-iron bodies with castings from the Kice foundry, oversized shaft, reduced slip allowing lower operating temperatures, unique oil seals and oversized long-life bearings. I was particularly impressed to learn their sales force is made up primarily by former flour mill managers. This has allowed them to successfully introduce an Air Audit program designed to help mills discover how much air they really need! There will be a follow-up article on this topic.


Kice at Bulk Show

Ben Kice at the Kice booth

I had a very interesting meeting with Schenk Process. Their test lab is based in Kansas City where they can help clients figure out what conveying velocities and material-to-air ratios work best. They manufacture both dilute and dense phase converying systems and provide the blower, vacuum and low-pressure air compressor systems required. Having acquired Mac Process, they also manufacture the process air filtration (bag and cartridge) systems used in dust collection systems. At their booth, I was given a crash course on their CMD airlock technology. The CMD is perfectly suited for food and pet food applications due it’s high process rates and features suited for sanitary processes.


Schenk at Bulk Expo

Greg Huffstetler and Jessica Marick at the Schenk Process booth


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