Operating Ideas - July-August 2017

A Better and Safer Way to Clean Coal Ash Silos

MPW Industrial Services borrowed concepts from the oil field, window-washing and confined space rescue trades to develop a better and safer way to clean coal ash silos, which receive as much as 100 million tons of material in the United States each year.
The ash is generated when coal is combusted and the resulting flue gas is captured by electrostatic precipitators or baghouses before entering smoke stacks. The ash, which has a fine particle size distribution with most less than 100 microns, is typically collected in pyramid hoppers then transferred to silos.

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Operating Ideas - June 2017

Dewatering Considerations for ExplosionProof Submersible Slurry Pumps

Explosion prevention is a primary safety concern for many industries that depend on electrically driven pumps. In the case of chemical plants, refineries and hydrocarbon processors, the risks are many and high. A deadly and destructive explosion is only waiting for a tiny spark or sufficiently hot surface to ignite. In the case of mining and oil and gas exploration, the potential fuel source for an explosion is escaping underground gas found in subsurface pockets frequently under extreme pressure. Fortunately, electrical equipment, including submersible pump motors, can be designed and manufactured to prevent them from becoming an ignition source in these hazardous environments.

The approach to safety in this case begins with the science of defining the exact nature of the hazardous area. This includes understanding and classifying the explosive material and its potential for being present within defined areas (zones) of the considered site. In the U.S. and some other countries, hazardous locations are defined in an official and comprehensive publication called the National Electric Code (NEC). This guide is produced and maintained by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA). The NFPA’s mission includes producing fire safety standards that are used as official codes by governments or other local authorities with interest in safety for construction, commercial, residential and industrial sites.

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Operating Ideas - May 2017

Off line Filtration Can Cut Oil Consumption and Reduce Maintenance

It’s difficult to name any type of primary mine production and comminution equipment that doesn’t require lubrication in some form. Trucks, shovels, crushers, mills, conveyors and even electrical transformers need oil — and generally, lots of it. Add to that the various tanks, barrels and other containers used for oil storage and transfer, and it’s easy to see why a mine or plant’s productivity and cost-of-operation figures can slide smoothly upward — or quickly downward — on the presence or absence of a thin film of oil.

According to oil filtration specialist C.C. Jensen A/S (CJC), contamination causes 80% of all oil system failures. Palle Maschoreck, head of the Danish company’s mining business segment, recently described his company’s approach to contamination control and prevention to Coal Age: “We have taken technology, which is widely known and used in the global wind [turbine] industry and applied it to mining. We employ a different filtration technology — offline filtration — than the standard inline filters, which enables us to clean and keep oil very clean during operation.”

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Breaking Boulders


Stemming is widely used to ensure that a loaded borehole achieves optimum blast results, but the practice can leave large boulders unbroken in the upper layer of burden. The authors explore several proven methods for boulder-busting using explosives.

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Point-level Blockage Detection Technologies Reduce Downtime

Blockage detection for coal chutes is a key factor in the transfer of solid material in bulk handling applications. When moving coal continuously over long (or short) distances, it’s important to consider directional changes to maintain high productivity and keep production schedules on point. As coal transfers from conveyors to inlet/outlet chutes to holding areas, such as silos and bins, to trucks or railcars for distribution, the potential for jams and blockages is high.

Production losses from a blocked transfer chute can cost thousands of dollars per hour. Once production stops to clear the blockage, downtime can stretch from a few minutes to a few hours depending on the severity of the blockage and the required cleanup. The unexpected disruption translates to lost production, lost material, possible equipment damage and safety hazards for employees.

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