Zinc Oxide Filter Cake Metering Bin
This is an example of a zinc oxide filter cake metering bin that is suffering from chronic bridging.
The Existing Hopper and Why it is Suffering from Chronic Plugging and Inconsistent Discharge
The existing storage and feed arrangement consists of pyramid hoppers that converge to square openings. Under the pyramid hoppers is a variable pitch twin-screw feeder. Filter cake falls through breaker bars into the hoppers, from where it is metered by the screw feeder.
In summary, the pyramid hoppers are suffering from chronic plugging because the pyramid hoppers, with four sloping sides converging to a small opening combined with the uneven withdrawal by the screw feeder is inducing a funnel flow discharge pattern. Funnel flow (which is a first-in, last-out discharge pattern) can be made to work with a large discharge outlet. However, when the discharge outlet is small, gravity is insufficient to overcome the strength of the bulk solid at the discharge outlet, and hence chronic bridging and rat-holing is expected.
Further, the shearing action of the screw feeder below the pyramid hoppers is driving the filter cake against the discharge end of each hopper wall, compacting material at the discharge outlet. This compaction is problematic because it builds strength in the material. The more strength a bulk solid has, the wider the opening it can bridge over. As a result, the shearing and compacting action of the screw feeder is contributing to poor discharge from the existing hoppers. In addition, the compaction by the screw feeder is resulting in high loads being transferred to the screw feeder, which may result in high wear and motor tripping.
The solution to fixing this problem bin has two parts. The first half of the solution is to replace the existing six pyramid hoppers with a single plane flow hopper with steep sloping walls and a wide discharge opening. Doing so fixes the geometry of the hopper such that if the Feeder were removed, the entire bin would self-empty with gravity in a mass flow or first-in, first-out discharge pattern. The second half of the solution is to pair the new long hopper with a Kamengo Feeder. The reason for doing so is that the Kamengo Feeder withdraws material evenly from its entire opening, which by definition is necessary to actually achieve a mass flow discharge pattern in the hopper. If the Feeder instead withdrew material unevenly, a funnel flow discharge pattern would ensue (regardless of the bin geometry), and rat-holing and bridging would occur.
To learn more about the physics of storage bin and feeder design as well as the root causes of bin plugging, please download our white paper entitled: The Design of Reliable Storage Bins and Feeders for the Mining Industry.