Chromalloy is one such manufacturer. Its Drilling Division produces ground barite (barium sulfate) at a plant in Houston, Texas. This high-density and highly abrasive material was causing a host of problems in the conveying system. When the conventional long-sweep elbows weren’t plugging, they were prematurely wearing out.
In an effort to extend the functional life of these components, Chromalloy engineers even tried fitting smaller elbows inside larger ones and encased the space between with concrete — but nothing was working. No matter what the engineering team tried, conventional elbows were experiencing total-wear through every 90 days, requiring costly plant shutdowns to facilitate removal and replacement.
As if wear-through wasn’t enough of a headache, plugging was a constant issue. Because conventional elbows rely on deflection to change the direction of material flowing through them, when the flow of material slowed too significantly, the entire line would plug. Frequently. The barite would compact so densely, engineers would have to use sledgehammers to dislodge the obstruction, or dismantle the line completely.
Hammertek’s Smart Elbow deflection elbow completely eliminated both plugging and wear-related problems at the Houston plant, thanks to an innovation unique to its design — the Vortex Chamber. This spherical chamber creates a gently rotating ball of product, allowing for changes in direction without contacting the interior walls of the elbow.
Chromalloy replaced all of its conventional elbows with cast-iron Smart Elbow models in both 4- and 5-inch diameter in 2011. Since then, not one single conveying line has experienced a plugging incident, nor has any of the Smart Elbow products required maintenance or repair of any kind.
Because the barite now flows so easily and efficiently through the conveying system, the Houston plant was able to reduce the pressure required to move material — resulting in an additional substantial energy savings.
You can read the full case study here.