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ENERGY-SAVING PNEUMATIC CONVEYING PIPE SYSTEM

By:
Mario Dikty, Product Line Manager Pneumatic Conveying,
Peter Hilgraf, Senior Manager Technical Center, and
Ray Worthington, Proposal Manager-Claudius Peters Technologies GmbH

Abstract
The cement industry is increasingly expected not only to produce high quality products competitively, but to
do so utilizing less energy and reducing dedusting requirements. This paper will present current experiences for an efficient pneumatic pipe conveying system that consumes less energy and requires smaller
dedusting equipment at the conveying pipe discharge. This system combines the advantages of an airactivated gravity conveyor plus those of a pneumatic transport pipe. The material characteristics that can
be conveyed by this system will be presented and discussed using the Geldart diagram. System design
guidelines relating to applicable types of feeding devices, horizontal runs, inclines, bends and vertical lifts
will also be presented. The paper will conclude with results from several of these systems being presented
with the aid of actual measured operating results.

PPneu / PBelt

Introduction
The bulk materials in cement plants can be transported by mechanical or pneumatic systems. Comparison
of different methods from the two groups generally leads to the following all-embracing statements: The
energy demand of pneumatic conveying processes is many times greater than that of mechanical processes. The capital costs for mechanical systems are significantly higher than for the corresponding pneumatic systems. When compared to mechanical conveying systems the routing of pneumatic systems can
be adapted for more flexibly to suit existing factors. It is substantially easier to achieve safe transport of
combustible or explosive bulk materials with pneumatic systems. Pneumatic systems offer the option of
conveying using inert gases. The primary disadvantage of pneumatic conveying is its high energy demand. This is due to the nature of the system. This can only be reduced further if the conveying procedure
used is optimally suited to the properties of and/or the particular class of bulk material solids to be transported.

Figure 1: Energy comparisons for conveying 100 t/h cement over different
conveying distances; reference basis: belt conveyor

978-1-4244-2081-0/08/$25.00 2008 IEEE

Figure 1 shows cement transport over different distances using various pneumatic conveying systems. It
shows that the all-embracing statementhigh energy consumption for pneumaticsmust be examined with
discrimination [1]. In the diagram the power demand figures Ppneu of pneumatic pipe conveying systems
with optimized energy demand (feeding devices are pressure vessel and screw feeder) versus those of airactivated gravity conveyor systems. The bulk material in an AAGC is transported in the form of a highly
aerated fluidized bed. This compares with the respective drive power demand of a belt conveyor Pbelt. Figure 1 shows that the energy demand of an air-activated gravity conveyor is roughly identical with that of a
belt conveyor system. The pneumatic pipe transport requires the expenditure of more than 20 times the
energy consumption of the corresponding belt conveyor. This relationship also applies to other bulk materials [1]. The air-activated gravity conveyor systems (Figure 2) energy advantage is offset by a disadvantage
of needing to be sloped downwards in direction of material flow. This is required to achieve stable transport
and emptying resulting in limitations on the routing, e.g. no vertical conveying.

Exhaust gas

Bulk solid

Fluidization gas

Gas-permeable
distributor

Bulk solid

Figure 2: Schematic layout of an air- activated gravity conveyor

This suggests that the advantages of air-activated gravity conveyors, in particular the low energy requirement, should be combined with those of pneumatic pipe conveyance. In particular the flexibility available
with pipe routing with its nearly unlimited flexibility. This approach is implemented rigorously in the energy
saving pneumatic conveying pipe system with fluidized elements described below. A conveying pipe that
can be fluidized completely in certain areas (air-activated gravity conveyor principle) is also traversed in the
direction of flow by a stream of driving gas(pipe conveying principle). The pressure drop of the driving gas
replaces the downwards slope of the air-activated gravity conveyor.
Implementation of the Concept
Fine-grained bulk materials, such as cement, raw meal, fly ash, kiln bypass dust and gypsum can be fluidized with low gas velocities. They then behave like fluids. If the fluidization/gas flow is maintained they can
be easily transported on slightly inclined air-activated gravity conveyors under the influence of gravity [2, 3].
The air-activated gravity conveyor structure is shown schematically in Figure 2. This consists of a lower
casing through which the fluidizing gas is supplied through a gas-permeable media. The upper casing is
used to carry away the material and fluidizing gas. Depending on the particular bulk material the specific
3
2
fluidizing gas flows q WS and the inclination angles WS are of the order of q WS (1.0 to 3.0) m /(m min),

WS

(4 to 8). In this case the axial transport velocity is v S 2.0 m/s. The aeration system used for the
fluidizing conveying pipe system (FLC) process is shown schematically in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Schematic layout of a FLC pipe

Figure 4: Schematic layout of a FLC plant

The structure of a FLC conveying plant is shown schematically in Figure 4. It is a positive pressure conveying system with bulk material supplied through different types of single feeders. Multi-point feeding is also

 coming from the pressure generapossible and discussed further below. The total conveying gas flow M
F


tor is divided into a fluidizing gas flow M
F ,fluid running parallel to the transport section with take-offs to sup
ply the fluidizing elements and an axial driving gas flow M
F , drive fed into the start of the conveying pipe.
The fluidization transforms the bulk material into a fluid-like state with low internal friction. This raises the
material from the bottom of the pipe up into the flow of the driving gas. These are optimum conveying conditions that can achieve the same transport velocities as with an air-activated gravity conveyor. Flow con-


trollers set the fluidizing gas flow M
F ,fluid to a predetermined target value and/or limit it to a permissible
maximum value. If there were no such control then an incipient blockage in the conveying pipe, i.e. a pressure rise at the start of the conveying line would occur. This would cause a diversion of the driving gas
through the fluidizing gas line by-passing the position of the blockage. This would intensify the formation of
the blockage and must therefore be prevented. The limitation/control of the gas flow in the fluidizing gas
line is also an essential precondition for all the measures used to monitor the conveying process. Figure 5
shows an example of one possible circuit for avoiding blockages with a screw feeder as the feeding device.

FLC Pipe

Figure 5: Schematic layout of FLC circuit with screw feeder as the feeding device

The length of the individual, independently aerated, pipe sections/fluidization units along the FLC pipe is
currently set as L 3.0 m. A suitable manual valve for regulating the local fluidizing gas flow and a nonreturn flap are located in each supply line.


The supply of fluidizing gas increases the conveying gas flow along the conveying route from M
F , drive at
Lx




the start of the pipeline to M
F , x = M F , drive + dM F , fluid after a conveying distance Lx, i.e. the gas veloc0

ity grows in the direction of conveying due both to the gas expansion and to the increase in the gas mass


flow. If the local gas velocity vF,x exceeds a critical value vF,crit the conveying gas flow M
F ,x at that point is
capable of conveying the bulk material even without fluidization [4]. The supply of fluidizing gas is no longer
necessary and the conveying line can be continued as a normal, non-aerated, pipe. However, it is often
more advantageous to maintain the air-activated gravity conveyor character of the conveying system over
the entire conveying section with its resulting low transport velocities. In this case the FLC pipe line has to
be staggered, i.e. the pipe diameter will be enlarged section by section.
Conveying Air Consumption
FLC plants that are in operation or are currently offered are designed with conveying gas velocities of vF, A
3
2
(2 to 3) m/s at the start of the line. The specific fluidizing gas flows of qWS (0.5 to 1.0) m /(m min) depend on the particular bulk material. Compared to conventional pipe conveying one can find here the big
advantage regarding the necessary total conveying air quantity. In conventional pipe conveying the minimum start velocity vF,min follows the equation v F ,min = K Mat

DRm
. A material factor KMat is multiplied by the
pRn

pipe diameter DR raised to the exponent m divided by the absolute pressure pR raised to the exponent n.
Example: for cement the minimum start velocities at the same pressure are for a ND100(4) pipe: approx.
4m/s, for a ND200 (8) pipe: approx. 6m/s, for a ND450(18) pipe: approx.11m/s. In a FLC pipe the minimum start velocity vF,min is not a function of the pipe diameter and the pressure, the minimum start velocity
vF,min = const., it is similar to air-activated gravity conveyors. That means that independent of the pipe diameter the start velocity for cement, raw meal, fly ash or gypsum is in the range of 2-3m/s. and specific
3
2
fluidizing gas flows of qWS (0.5 to 1.0) m /(m min). This is much lower compared to the air-activated
gravity conveyor. The result is lower conveying air quantity for the FLC pipe compared to conventional pipe.
Detailed data are shown in the comparisons with conventional pipe conveying section later in this paper.
Bends and Vertical Pipe Section
Bends are not aerated. It is important to use small r/d ratios (Bend Radius / Pipe diameter) to reduce the
retention time of the material in the bend. For example, Cement has a de-aeration time of 20-50 sec/ 2kg.
That means that fluidized cement needs about 20-50 sec to come from the aerated density to bulk density
when the fluidization is switched off. In a ND200 (8) pipe with a r/d ratio of 3 and a transport velocity of
3.0m/s the retention time is < 1 sec. Compared with the 20-50 sec de-aeration time it is clear that fluidization of the bend is only necessary for materials with extreme low de-aeration times. Prior to the bend outlet
a ramp is installed ahead of the following fluidized element. This is done to avoid wear on the edge of the
fluidizing element and to prevent material build up. A horizontal bend DN150(6) is shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Examples of Horizontal and Vertical bends in a FLC pipeline

Vertical sections and changes in direction/bends in a FLC pipe conveying route are made as normal with
non-aerated pipes. Depending on the position of a vertical section along the conveying distance, its pipe
diameter DR,vert.,, is made correspondingly smaller than the diameter DR of the aerated horizontal conveying
pipe in order to set up stable operating conditions. The resulting locally increased gas velocity prevents
gas/solids segregation and the associated pressure pulsations. An example for a pipe system ND100(4)
vertical to a ND150(6) horizontal is shown in Figure 6.
Inclined Conveyance
The FLC pipe is capable of conveying uphill at angles of up to R 30 (tested and in operation so far)
above the horizontal. An inclined section can be located anywhere along the line except directly at the start
of the conveying line out of the feeding device. The bulk material feed should always be made into a horizontal, or alternatively vertical, pipe. The transition to the inclined section can then be made after a sufficiently long horizontal acceleration section. Figure 7 shows a FLC installation for fly ash with a pipe inclination upwards of 30.

FLC pipe

aeration pipe

Figure 7: 30 FLC pipe for fly ash

Feeding Devices
The bulk material feeding devices that are suitable for a FLC plant and that have been tested are: pressure
vessels, screw feeders, rotary-valve feeders and various flap type feed gates. Energy demands, capital
costs, plant height and maintenance requirements decide the type of feeding device used for a given application. Types of bulk material feeders are shown in Figure 4.
Multi Feeding Points
The requirement for pneumatic conveying systems to have multi-point feeds arises for example in the
power generating industry. This is more or less simultaneous feed of bulk material into one transport line
through several feeders in parallel. The fly ash collected in the several filter hoppers is fed into a common
transport line that connects a larger number of these hoppers. Underneath the multiple feed points, the
irregular batch wise and frequently simultaneous discharge of solids from several feeders is only manifested in short peaks of the conveying pressure. This is at the start of the line but dies away rapidly due to
the fluid like behaviour of the bulk material in the FLC pipe. The accumulation of any bulk material disappears again almost immediately. With the large number of feed points under a power stations filter the aim
is to use simple and inexpensive feeding devices like double flap valves, double rotary flap systems, or

wear-resistant rotary-valve feeders. Their use is supported, and in some cases only possible, due to the
special FLC pipe characteristics (high loadings at low conveying pressures). For example one realized
plant is equipped with 18 rotary feeders which feed a ND400 (16) FLC pipe with 57.5 t/h of fly ash over a
130 m conveying distance, including 47 m vertical height. The transport underneath filters is possible in the
same way, in cement plants, to prevent the installation of large collecting screw conveyors.
Availability
Wear is the primary factor for the reduction in availability of pneumatic conveying systems. In the case of
pneumatic lean-phase conveying, a very substantial wear rate can be caused by the systems inherent high
velocity of the bulk material passing along inside the wall of the pipe. The use of dense phase conveying
generally causes far less wear [5]. Wear loss, W CP, in pneumatic conveying piping increases with an exponent k of 23 of the conveying velocity vF (depending on the combination of bulk material and pipe material)
according to WCP v Fk .
Start Up with Full Conveying Line
Restarting after the conveying process has been interrupted by, for example, a power failure, i.e. starting
up with a full line, is absolutely no problem with the FLC pipe. The conveying gas is fed to the conveying
system at different times. After the fluidizing gas has been applied, the driving gas flow is switched on after
a time delay. This transports the deposited bulk material that has been transformed to the fluidized state
and takes it away evenly and without significant pressure fluctuations. The procedure has proved successful with all the bulk materials investigated so far and is implemented as a standard procedure in all FLC
plants.
Suitable Bulk Materials
The bulk materials that are particularly suitable for FLC pipe are all those that can be fluidized with low gas
velocities and that expand substantially homogeneously. High gas retention is also an advantage. Bulk
materials with appropriate properties are to be found in the entire hatched area of the Geldart diagram
(Figure 8). The difference (particle density S - fluid density F) is plotted on the ordinate against the average particle diameter dS,50 on the abscissa, measured as the sieve residue R = 50 %. The relationship (S F) S (fluid = gas) applies in this case [6,7]. The various bulk materials plotted in Figure 8 and 9 have
already been transported successfully with the FLC. They cover the entire recommended application range.

Figure 8: Tested bulk solids for FLC pipe shown on the Geldart diagram

No. Bulk Material


1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Cement
Cement
Raw meal
Cement kiln dust
Iron(II)-sulfate
FGD-gypsum
Plaster of Paris
Hydrated lime
Pet coke
Stone coal fly ash
Brown coal fly ash
Brown coal fly ash
Aluminium hydroxides
Al(OH)3
Alumina (Secondary)
Alumina (Primary)
Titanium ore

Blaine
[cm/g]
3938
2588
4188
9292
463
4441
4081
17060
3264
3104
2170
265
503
401
1390
1283
2407

Average Particle-
dS,50 [m]
13
29
30
<10
180
15
20
<10
36
20
45
157
80
105
78
88
19

Bulk Density Solids Density


3
3
SS [kg/m ]
S [kg/m ]
1100
3100
1260
3110
925
2800
620
2850
870
1980
660
2510
1060
2790
390
2310
570
1330
1120
2300
1400
3250
1460
3150
1120
2880
1260
2690
1020
4760
1020
5020
2000
4700

Figure 9: Basic data of the tested bulk materials for the FLC pipe

The suitability of bulk materials outside the hatched region in Figure 8 has to be analyzed for each particular case and, if necessary, verified by fluidization tests. It is usually found that the bulk materials to the left
of the hatched area exhibit very cohesive behaviour. Therefore, they cannot be fluidized or they can only be
fluidized with mechanical assistance (e.g. stirrers). The fluidizing gas flows through this product in individual
channels or rat holes while the surrounding material remains unfluidized on the bottom of the pipe. Materials on the right of the hatched area need uneconomically high gas velocities for adequate fluidization. The
total fluidizing/conveying gas flows, for these materials, are uneconomically high over a given conveying
distance.
The FLC pipe therefore provides a simple, slow, dense phase conveying system for a relatively wide range
of bulk materials. In particular, it also covers the bulk materials in the transition region between the Geldart
groups A and B. These can be conventionally be conveyed pneumatically only with initial conveying gas
velocities of vF,A > 12 m/s or by the sole use of expensive by-pass systems [7, 8]. These products include,
for example, the extremely abrasive sandy alumina (dS,50 78 - 90 m, S 4300 - 5100 kg/m3). It can be
transported along the route in a FLC pipe with gas start velocities of approx. 3 m/s. The velocities required
for conventional conveying systems and for alternative by-pass systems are significantly higher. The FLC
pipe minimizes pipeline wear and particle attrition/fracture.
A laboratory to determine the bulk solid data is available for measuring all necessary bulk solid behaviours.
All necessary data can be measured for any bulk solid. Additionally, a semi industrial test plant is available
(see Figure 10). The test centre is equipped with all the usual feeding devices, like pressure vessels, screw
pumps, rotary valves, or different pendulum flap valves. The available FLC pipeline is in ND100(4) and
ND150(6) up to 150 m(492) in length. The ND100(4) line is additionally equipped with 3 transparent glass
pipe sections, one in the vertical part and one in the horizontal part (see Figure 11) to judge in detail about
the flow behaviour of the bulk solid being transported in the horizontal and vertical pipe sections. The third
one is installed in an inclined pipe section which also can be used.

Figure 10: Schematic representation of the Test plant

Horizontal transparent glass pipe


Vertical transparent
glass pipe

Figure 11: Transparent glass pipes in the FLC plant in the test centre

Comparison of FLC with Conventional Pipe Pneumatic Conveyance


Examples of results from operating FLC pipe conveying systems are discussed below. These are shown for
two typical plants.
Plant Wietersdorf
Case one is a FLC plant for transporting raw meal in Austria. The focal point of the plant modernization at
Wietersdorf in 2005 was to complete and start up a new preheater system. The selected solution for feeding of the preheater was a FLC system in combination with a bucket elevator.

FLC Pipe

Figure 12: Route of the raw meal from the raw meal blending silo to the preheater feed bin

The performed system extensions led to a significant increase in energy efficiency while simultaneously
raising the production capacity [9]. Figure 12 shows the route of the raw meal from the raw meal blending
silo to the preheater feed bin. The 125 t/h raw meal is transported continuously over a conveying distance
of 194 m(636 ft.) to the bottom of the preheater and from there goes up 95 m(311 ft.) vertically via bucket
elevator to the feed bin of the preheater. In case of failure of the bucket elevator the FLC plant is designed
to be able to transport 90 t/h raw meal up to the feed bin of the preheater via a vertical pneumatic conveying pipe connected to the FLC pipe.
Energy Consumption
Bulk material
Conveying gas
Type of solid feeding device
Type of conveying system
Solids mass flow
Total conveying distance
Including: total height
Pipe diameter
Total gas volume flow
Dedusting air, percentage
Gas velocity at pipe inlet
Gas velocity at pipe outlet
Solid/air ratio at pipe inlet
Solid/air ratio at pipe outlet
Pipe pressure difference
Total pressure difference

[t/h]
[m]
[m]
[mm]
3
[m /h at 20C, 1bar]
[%]
[m/s]
[m/s]
[kgS/kgF]
[kgS/kgF]
[bar]
[bar]

Power consumption of compressor


Power consumption of screw feeder
Total power consumption
Total specific power consumption
Total specific power consumption

[kW]
[kW]
[kW]
[kWh/(t100m)]
[%]

Raw meal
Air
Screw Feeder
FLC Pipe
Conventional Pipe
125
194
7
273.0
2130
3920
54
100
2.5
11.6
12.2
21.7
134.5
27.9
54
27.9
1.15
1.25
1.45
1.55
68
50
118
0.49
62

134
58
192
0.79
100

Figure 13: Summary of the raw meal FLC pipe data compared with conventional pipe

Figure 13 shows the summary for the raw meal FLC pipe conveying data compared with a conventional
pipe conveying. It can be seen that the FLC pipe has a total energy consumption of 118kW compared to
192kW for the conventional pipe. In Austria 1 kWh costs 0.18 $. The plant is in operation for a minimum of
8000h per year. Wietersdorfer & Peggauer Zementwerke GmbH save 8000h 0.18 $/kWh (192kW-118kW)
= 106560 $ per year due to the FLC equipped system.
Conveying / Dedusting Air Consumption
The highest energy saving is due to the low air quantity required, as already explained above. The FLC
pipe equipped system saves 74 kW in energy consumption while at the same time also reducing the dedusting air quantity. Instead of 3920 m/h (at 20C, 1bar) only 2130 m/h (at 20C, 1bar) have to be dedusted. The FLC pipe system thus only needs 54 % of the conveying air / dedusting air compared to the
conventional pipe conveying system. As a result a smaller pressure generator as well as a smaller dedusting device is required.
Wear reduction
The wear ratio between the FLC pipe and the conventional pipe conveyance system for an average wear
exponent of 2.5 is:

Wear ratio =

WCP ,conventional conveyance


WCP ,FLC system

average conveying velocity of the convention al conveyance

=
average conveying velocity of the FLC system

2. 5

For the case of plant Wietersdorf the wear factor is:


18.6
Waer ratio =

7.2

2.5

= 10.7

The wear ratio shows that a conventional pipe conveying system would have approximately 11 times more
wear than the FLC pipe system. This means that the lifetimes of the wear parts of the FLC pipe system are
approx. 11 times longer. For this plant, after more than 2 years of operation, no equipment (no FLC pipe,
no bend) had to be exchanged.
Plant Hannibal (under construction)
The screw feeder will receive cement from the packhouse silos and will convey it to the two existing river
silos for barge loading at a conveying rate of 281 t/h (Figure 14). The conveying distance is 282 m(925 ft.)
[including 43.5 m(141 ft.) vertical lift] with three changes in elevation, ten (10) pipe bends and two (2) twoway diverter valves.

River Silos

Screw
Feeder

Figure 14: Schematic Plant Hannibal FLC pipe

Energy consumption
Figure 15 shows the summary of the FLC pipe cement conveying system data compared with a conventional pipe conveying system. It can be seen that the FLC pipe system has a total energy consumption of
427 kW compared to 796 kW for the conventional pipe conveyance. With energy costs of 0.1 $ / kWh and
8000h operation time per year the expected savings are 8000h 0.10 $/kWh (796 kW-427 kW) = 295200 $
per year.

Energy consumption
Bulk material
Conveying gas
Type of solid feeding device
Type of conveying system
Solids mass flow
Total conveying distance
Including: total height
Pipe diameter
Total gas volume flow
Dedusting air quantity
Dedusting air, percentage
Gas velocity at pipe inlet
Gas velocity at pipe outlet
Solid/air ratio at pipe inlet
Solid/air ratio at pipe outlet
Pipe pressure difference
Total pressure difference
Power consumption of compressor
Power consumption of screw feeder
Total power consumption
Total specific power consumption
Total specific power consumption

Cement

[t/h]
[m]
[m]
[mm]
[m/h at 20C, 1bar]
[m/h at 100C, 1bar]
[%]
[m/s]
[m/s]
[kgS/kgF]
[kgS/kgF]
[bar]
[bar]
[kW]
[kW]
[kW]
[kWh/(t100m)]
[%]

Air
Screw Feeder
FLC Pipe
Conventional Pipe
281
265
66
457.2
5670
14640
7220
18640
39
100
3.0
11.0
11.3
26.2
68.8
16.2
43.0
16.2
1.37
1.43
1.67
1.73
250
610
177
186
427
796
0.57
1.07
53.2
100

Figure 15: Summary of the cement conveying system data compared with a conventional conveying

Conveying / dedusting air consumption


The biggest energy saving is due to the low air quantity required, as already explained previously above.
The FLC pipe reduces the dedusting air quantity. Instead of 18640 m/h (at 100C, 1bar) only 7220 m/h (at
100C, 1bar) have to be dedusted. The FLC pipe needs only 39 % conveying air / dedusting air compared
to the conventional pipe conveying. As a result a smaller pressure generator as well as a smaller dedusting
device is required.
Wear reduction
The actual wear ratio factor is 10.9. This indicates that the conventional pipe conveying system would have
approx. 11 times more pipe wear than the FLC pipe system. This also means that the lifetimes of the wear
parts of the FLC pipe are approx. 11 times longer.
Conclusion
Figure 16 shows a reference list for FLC plants for the cement industry. The total energy savings over all
these 30 plants are about 4020 kW compared to a conventional pipe pneumatic conveyance. The reference
list shows that the cement industry and other types of industry with increasing number of plants coming on
line. Up to end of 2007 more then 45 FLC plants have been sold. Not only in the cement industry, but also
for example in the power generating industry and in the alumina industry the installation of FLC plants increases more and more. The feeding devices installed in these plants are primary continuous feeding devices, like rotary valves or screw feeders.
The FLC pipe systems when compared to conventional pneumatic pipe conveying systems have the main
advantages in energy savings, reduced dedusting quantities and lower wear behaviour. The two plants
discussed in this paper, where the energy savings are in the range of 38 47 %. The dedusting air quantity
was reduced up to 61 %. Additionally the wear behaviour is at 1:11 compared to a conventional pipe conveying. The good results achievable with the FLC pipe system are shown in all installed plants. This makes
the FLC pipe another available innovation, to the cement industry, for optimizing its pneumatic pipe conveying systems in regards to effectively lowering the electrical energy and dedusting air quantity requirements.

Figure 16: Reference list of FLC pipe plants in the cement industry

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[1]
[2]
[3]
[4]
[5]
[6]
[7]
[8]
[9]

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