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Pneumatic Conveying

What is Pneumatic Conveying

Pneumatic conveying is a material transportation process in which powders or granular materials are moved over horizontal and vertical distances within a plant premises with the help of air.

Using either the positive or negative pressure of air or other gases, the material to be transported is forced through pipes and finally separated from the carrier air and deposited at the desired destination.

Benefits of Pneumatic Conveying:

  • Pneumatic conveying, unlike other conveying methods, involves no moving parts.
  • The materials move through pipes - without any spillages or chances of contamination or exposure to the external factors.
  • This process is energy efficient.
  • It does not pollute the environment if the system is designed properly.
  • Needs little maintenance

Except ducting, which can be underground or on the walls, there are few other parts to be installed. Saves space, where it matters.

Various Methods of Pneumatic Conveying

Lean Phase Conveying:
The material to gas ratio is very low in this case. Can be a positive pressure and/or a negative pressure system.

Dense Phase Conveying:
The material to gas ratio is very high. Very high positive pressure is used in this case. 

Factors Influencing Pneumatic Conveying Design:

Nature of Material:
Some materials are very "free-flowing", other are not. It is easier to convey free-flowing materials. Similarly some materials are sticky, or hygroscopic, or flammable. The system has to be designed keeping the properties of the material in mind.

Particle size:
Particle size is an important factor that affects the design of a pneumatic conveying system. But it is not that the smallest particles are the easiest to convey.

Bulk Density: 
Another very important factor that would determine the power requirement of the system.

Air retention: 
Deceptively identical materials (with say similar bulk density, particle size, etc.) would behave so differently that a pneumatic conveyor may be a great success with one and might completely fail with the other.

Capacity required: 
The system is always designed for a particular material flow rate - say tons/hour.

Distance involved: 
The energy consumed by a pneumatic conveying system is directly proportional to the distance over which the material is conveyed - but the horizontal distance is different from the vertical distance.

Number and type of bends:
 
A bend consumes much more energy (more so if the radius of bend is small) that a straight duct.

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