What Is a Slurry System and Why Use One?
What is a slurry system and why use one? Well, first, let’s answer the question of “What is slurry?” A slurry mixture combines insoluble solids with a liquid (most often water). Consistency can differ according to the content, but slurry is generally made of both liquids and solids. It has solidity while enjoying the space-filling quality of a liquid as well as the ability to be pumped from one place to another. A good way to visualize slurry is to compare it to kitchen “experiments” you might’ve done as a kid. If you’ve ever stirred water and baking soda, baking powder, flour, or similar materials that don’t quite dissolve, you’ve made your own batch of slurry. Namely, slurry is a gluey, tacky, slithery, sludgy substance that can be pumped, piped, and poured elsewhere.
Keeping that in mind should help you better imagine slurry’s industrial applications. Slurry comes in many different forms and turns up in industries as different as mining, chemical production, construction, food, agriculture, as well as many others. While different slurries have different applications, generally, it’s made so it can be easily loaded and unloaded, transported, and distributed. Coal-water slurry fuel, a byproduct of coal mining, is made from water and fine coal particles; it’s useful for powering diesel engines and heating power stations and gas turbines. But how is slurry created, what devices are used to do it, and why does your business or facility need a slurry system in place?
Mixing It Up
What goes into a good batch of slurry? Obviously, different industries require different methods of creating slurry (especially where food is concerned.) However, for the purposes of this blog, we will address inedible industrial applications.
There are two forms of slurry: non-settling slurry and settling slurry. That’s easy enough to remember and to understand. Non-settling slurries are also referred to as homogenous slurries. As we’ve discussed in another post, the solids in these slurries are more highly concentrated and consist of very fine particles, which makes the substance look more like sludge. Settling slurries, on the other hand, have a much lower concentration and consist of larger particles. It’s referred to as settling because the particles tend to settle toward the bottom of the container or pipe transporting the slurry.
As for the mixture, both kinds require the original substance—whether it is coal, wood pulp, sand, gravel, glass, glue, or even manure. In simple terms, a conveyor belt or similar pneumatic material handling equipment takes the original ore (or whatever material is involved) and dumps it into an area where it’s separated and treated before being dumped into a holding tank. The material is mixed with deionized water in the slurry system and stirred using large-scale slurry pumps. Slurry pumps are stronger, more rigid, and more durable than other kinds of pumps that simply drain water or other fluids. They need to be stronger because the materials they deal with are usually heavy, abrasive, corrosive, and otherwise damaging to mechanical systems. Most slurry pumps work on centrifugal force, which keeps the mixture rotating. Other materials require positive displacement pumps, which move the slurry mechanically through the pipe. Often a set of rollers are in place at the bottom to separate the slurry from any unneeded waste products.
What Slurry Systems Have To Watch Out For
As tough as the pumps need to be, they can’t be so tough they damage the materials. Centrifugal pumps need to be built and adjusted to avoid demolishing the ore, gravel, or other substance inside them. Twin screw pumps and other setups can help to reduce spoilage. The pumps need to run slowly and carefully to keep wear and tear down. At the same time, they can’t go so slowly the piping and lines become clogged with solid residue. As the old saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. Pump discharges should be kept lower to stop wear without stopping production.
So, Why Use a Slurry System?
We have answered the question what is a slurry system and why use one? The next question is what can one of these systems do for you and your facility or business? Well, naturally, it all depends upon your business. Slurry can be a waste product, or it can be a perfectly useful and profitable material. Either way, you need a set up that allows you to employ or dispose of slurry. Mining and similar industrial concerns may be called on to transfer ore or other materials across long distances that vehicles cannot traverse easily. This can require a slurry pipeline. Slurry pipelines are employed to transport everything from coal products and byproducts, limestone, various metals, and many other materials. Slurry conversion makes this possible.
In construction, cement, soil, and cement slurries require a slurry system so they can get transported. In agriculture, animal feces and other organic waste are gathered and collected and processed by slurry systems for conversion into wet and dry fertilizer. Slurry systems and pumps are especially useful and necessary regarding processing sewage and recycling water used in industrial applications. Separating the wheat from the chaff—or in this case the water from the waste—via a slurry system can help prevent pollution from entering the environment through runoff. Overall, slurry systems can aid in keeping factories, mills, and other work facilities safer and cleaner. The systems prevent the slurry from pooling, emitting noxious gases or materials, or creating a drowning hazard. Overall, slurry systems aid in keeping costs down and profits up through transporting, recycling, reusing, and reappropriating your produce!
Contact us if you want to learn more about how we can help you install the slurry system that is right for you and your facility. We are available to answer any questions you may have.