Fertilizer in solid form can generally be broken into two types: granulated and blended. Granulated product is a homogenous mixture of fertilizer materials generally produced in ammoniation granulation plants by combining raw materials such as anhydrous ammonia, phosphoric acid, and potassium chloride. Blended product combines a mixture of dry fertilizer materials. Blended fertilizer ingredients can consist of “straight” materials (such as urea or potassium chloride), or granulated compound fertilizer materials mixed together, or a combination of the two. In this blog we look at some of challenges associated with conveying granulated or blended fertilizer product.
In the production of granulated and blended fertilizers, conveyors are often used to move input ingredients into the mixing process, and then to move finished product into storage silos or directly onto the packaging line.
An advantage of granulated fertilizer is the more uniform distribution of nutrients within the product. Consequently, there is no segregation of the nutrients when the product is handled or moved. A caveat to be noted is that the uniformity of nutrient distribution can only be assured if the product particles remain unbroken. Thus, conveying equipment used for moving granulated product should be capable of gentle handling to prevent breakage of the product particles. However, compared to blended product, granulated fertilizers generally have good handling properties, with a lower tendency to cake or dust.
With blended fertilizers, the individual particles within the fertilizer remain separate in the mixture. Because the particles remain separated, there is the potential for segregation of the individual nutrients making up the blend when the product is moved. For this reason, it is important to consider conveying solutions that reduce the risk of blend separation when moving blended fertilizer either into storage silos or onto the packaging line.
Producers of blended fertilizers often manufacture product where the blend particles are coated with nutrients. Should the particles break or abrade on each other when they are conveyed, the integrity and distribution of the coating throughout the blend may be compromised. This degradation of the coating can affect the quality and consistency of the final product.
Blended fertilizers also have a propensity to cake or dust when moved. Because fertilizer dust can be explosive if ignited, conveyors used should be capable of containing product dust and preventing sparks which could lead to a dust explosion.
Over the years, UniTrak has worked with fertilizer producers to solve their conveying challenges. Equipment solutions which have proven themselves in the conveying of fertilizer product include the following:
TipTrak™ bucket elevators. TipTrak™ continuous bucket elevators are the go-to reference for gentle handling, dust containment, explosion risk reduction, and reliability. With their fully interlocking bucket assemblies and rubber beltchain, TipTrak™ elevators can easily move fertilizer without blend separation or particle breakage/abrasion. TipTrak™ Monocoque units offer a fully-sealed explosion-resistant design which fully addresses the problems of product dusting, static discharge, and spark creation. Capable of moving up to 3,000 cubic feet of material per hour, TipTrak™ bucket elevators are a reliable and proven conveying solutions for handling granulated and blended fertilizer product.
Powderflight aeromechanical conveyors. Aeromechanical conveyors can be used to move powdered blended fertilizer inputs quickly, accurately and with minimal dust. Working on the principle of a fluidized airstream, Powderflight conveyors are a perfect complement to the high-speed blending processes that are becoming increasingly prevalent within blended fertilizer production facilities.
If your application requires the conveying of granulated or blended fertilizer, UniTrak will be pleased to review your needs and recommend an appropriate equipment solution. To find out more about UniTrak equipment for conveying granulated or blended fertilizer, please contact our sales team.