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The company easily and inexpensively scaled up its new process from a 24-in. diameter laboratory prototype fluid bed dryer/delumper system from Kason Corp. to a 48-in. diameter full-scale production unit.
Scale-up went smoothly since Kason provides a pre-engineered standard selection of screen sizes and fluid bed diameters ready for installation and startup. "You can go from small capacity to higher capacity at relatively low cost," says the plant manager.
The non-flowing, sticky mixture exits a mixer at 7% moisture to be dried to 2% moisture. The centrifugal screener* (delumper) breaks the material into 50-mesh size particles before they are dried in the fluid bed processor at a temperature below 100°C. The granules feed from the fluid bed unit to a press, which compresses it into various shaped refractory pieces.
Better than AlternativesThe plant manager says the combination centrifugal separator (delumper) and circular fluidized bed processor delumps and dries this material better than other methods he considered. He says the several ceramic techniques available would require a costly custom-made prototype fluid bed dryer that would become even more costly to scale up to production level.
Rectangular fluid bed processors often selected for this duty did not offer the advantages of the circular vibrating fluid bed. The circular unit is inherently stronger, yet lighter, of a simpler design and less costly to build than a rectangular unit of equivalent surface area. The plant manager says it's a relatively small unit for the amount of throughput. A rectangular fluid bed would also occupy more valuable floor space. The circular unit's self-centered configuration results in fast, easy setup.
Easy to OperateAccording to the plant manager, the laboratory fluid bed system prototype proved simple to operate, clean and maintain. The circular design has no corners or crevices for material to lodge in and hamper cleaning. He praises the unit's process control and temperature control via thermocouples. "It's easy to change temperature input and receive accurate, reliable temperature output," he says.
Productivity and performance results for the 1000-pound-per-hour production at the plant are too early to be tallied. But the plant manager is confident the processor will prove to be the most productive, economical, effective selection to deliver the performance the company needs.