Gypsum (Calcium Sulphate Dihydrate [CaSO4·2H2O]), is a soft sulphate mineral. Gypsum is both mined and produced synthetically, and is commercially available in crystalline, powdered or pellet form. In this blog, we look at the issues surrounding conveying gypsum with a continuous bucket elevator – something that will be of interest to facilities that use gypsum as an input material to their production processes.
The word “gypsum” is derived from the Greek word for plaster. The uses for gypsum are many and varied and include the following:
- Gypsum board, including wallboard and plasterboard, which is widely used in construction and as a finish for walls and ceilings.
- A retarding agent to slow the setting of Portland cement.
- Fertilizers and soil conditioners. Gypsum pellets can be applied to fields and lawns to provide a source of calcium and sulphur, stimulating root growth and increasing crop yields.
- Binding agents.
- Mortar and plaster, including medical-grade plasters.
- Foodstuff ingredients, including as a dough conditioner in baking, for making mead, and adding hardness to water for brewing.
Conveying gypsum with a continuous bucket elevator: challenges
Continuous bucket elevators are used in facilities to move gypsum both vertically and horizontally. Specific challenges associated with conveying gypsum relate to the following:
- Mined gypsum is somewhat abrasive. As a result, wear-resistant bucket elevators should be used when conveying this material.
- When granulated properly, gypsum in pellet form is easier to handle and convey than its powdered counterpart. Dry pellets tend to be free-flowing, but can create clumping and dusting issues.
- Powdered gypsum can be sticky and cohesive. Bucket elevators which handle powdered gypsum may require flow aids to ensure a consistent material flow and problem-free discharge from the elevator.
Because of these challenges, continuous bucket elevators for applications involving gypsum will require customization to address the following:
- How gypsum will be fed into and discharged from the bucket elevator. Flow aids may be required to overcome the non-free flowing nature of powdered gypsum. In addition, discharge assists and easy-release buckets will be required to ensure that buckets containing powdered gypsum are fully discharged.
- How the bucket elevator will be cleaned. Due to its sticky nature, gypsum can adhere to and accumulate on conveyor parts and surfaces. It will therefore be important to select equipment that prevents spillage of the material during transport, thus reducing the amount of material that can build up on the conveyor’s surfaces. In addition, using bucket elevators whose design offers easy access for cleaning will be an important consideration.
- If handling mined gypsum, consider how the bucket elevator will be protected from accelerated wear and tear resulting from abrasion. This will require the elevator to be constructed from wear-resistant materials and parts.
- Controlling dusting will be an important consideration when conveying pelletized gypsum. For these applications, fully enclosed or dust-tight elevators should be used.
- Facilities that use gypsum as an input material to their processes often require equipment that is capable of moving significant volumes of material. Choosing a bucket elevator that has the required capacity will be an important buying decision in many cases.
Conveying gypsum with a continuous bucket elevator: TipTrak™ equipment from UniTrak
UniTrak manufactures the TipTrak™ line of continuous bucket elevators. TipTrak™ elevators can be customized for applications involving gypsum. Features of TipTrak™ elevators that make them suitable for conveying gypsum include the following:
- Spillage-free operation. TipTrak™ conveyors use fully interlocking (as opposed to overlapping) buckets. This effectively seals the spaces between adjacent buckets, meaning no product can spill.
- Discharge aids and easy-release buckets. TipTrak™ elevators can be customized with discharge aids and buckets that ensure the complete discharge of bucket contents. This feature is particularly important when handling a cohesive material like gypsum powder.
- High capacities. TipTrak™ units are capable of handling material volumes up to 2552 cubic feet per hour (72 cubic meters per hour).
- Dust control. TipTrak™ PEC (fully enclosed) and Monocoque (dust-tight) units can control the dusting issues that can arise when conveying pelletized gypsum.
- Easy access for cleaning. TipTrak™ PEC and Monocoque units can be supplied with quick access panels and cleanout drawers which make cleaning fast and easy.
If you have an application which requires gypsum to be conveyed vertically or horizontally, UniTrak will be pleased to review your needs and propose an appropriate equipment solution. To find out more about how UniTrak can help with conveying gypsum with a continuous bucket elevator, please contact our sales team for further assistance.