Sulphur can be an especially challenging material to convey. Sulphur dust suspended in the air can ignite and explode, and the material is also corrosive and abrasive. In addition, some forms of sulphur are non-free flowing and may pack or cake when being moved. All of these issues combine to make safe and effective handling and conveying sulphur no small matter!
Sulphur in its natural state is a bright yellow non-metallic element. In its pure form, sulphur is odourless. Sulphur is one of the most widely used elements in the world: it is used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, synthetic textiles and yarns, fertilizers, explosives, and many other products.
Considerations for Safely and Effectively Conveying Sulphur
When thinking about choosing a conveyor for sulphur applications, the following should be kept in mind:
- Material bulk density. Powdered sulphur has a bulk density of 721 kg/cubic meter (45 lbs/cu ft), while in its prilled or granular form the bulk density may range from about 1,040 to 1,121 kg/cu meter (64 lbs/cu ft) respectively. Since material bulk densities are a determinant of conveyor capacities and throughput rates, the bulk density of the sulphur being conveyed should be ascertained.
- Material flowability. Some grades of powdered sulphur can be non-free flowing and the material may tend to cake or pack. This characteristic can affect feeding of the conveyor, as wells as the discharge of the material from the conveyor. Because of this characteristic, it is important to select infeed transitions with the correct geometry as well as the provision of flow-aids, such as vibrators or agitators, to ensure trouble-free feeding of the conveyor.
- Abrasiveness. Since sulphur can be somewhat abrasive, it is important to select a conveyor which can withstand prolonged exposure to the material. TipTrak bucket conveyors can be supplied with wear-resistant options which provide protection against abrasion.
- Corrosion. Wet sulphur and sulphur compounds can cause corrosion in carbon steel. For this reason, conveyors constructed of stainless steel are preferred for sulphur handling. TipTrakTM bucket conveyors, Powderflight aeromechanicals, and UniFlex flexible screw conveyors are available in stainless steel constructions.
- Dusting and explosion control. As noted above, sulphur dust suspended in air ignites easily and may burn with explosive force. For this reason, it is important to choose conveyors which reduce the risk of product dusting and fugitive emission of dust into the surrounding environment. TipTrakTMMonocoque bucket conveyors offer the ultimate in protection, as these units are fully enclosed and sealed. For more on TipTrakTM Monocoque bucket conveyors for explosive applications, including conveying sulphur, please see our blog Explosion-proof bucket conveyor: Monocoque TipTrakTM.
If you have an application which requires conveying sulphur, consultation with a UniTrak application specialist will help clarify the equipment choices available to you. Our application specialists will review your particular application in detail and recommend the optimal equipment solution which fully addresses your needs. Our product line of bucket conveyors, aeromechanical conveyors, flexible screw conveyors, and bulk bag dischargers have proven acceptance in sulphur applications in facilities the world over. To find out more about our product line for sulphur applications, please contact our sales department directly.