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Conveyor case study: Flémalle, Belgium

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Dry Bulk,

A coal-fired power plant was once in operation in the Belgian town of Flémalle. The coal residues are landfilled on a fly ash stockpile. Now, the stockpile is to be emptied and the terrain transformed into a nature reserve.

A BEUMER Group Pipe Conveyor is being used to transport the fly ash to the Maas river for shipment. The system has not only been adapted to operate along the steep mountains, but its enclosed design prevents the volatile material from coming into contact with the environment. The fly ash’s transportation is carried out in strict compliance with safety standards, taking into consideration environmental protection and the effect noise pollution has on the local residents.

The neighbourhood around the Belgian town of Liège is calm and picturesque, with small villages along the Maas. The forests and landscapes are partly untouched and present a unique fauna and flora. Industrialisation started very early in the region of Wallonia, as coal was available in abundance. Even though the mines were closed years ago, there are still residues of slates and stones or bottom ash. For example, in Flémalle, less than 20 km away from Liège, for approximately 50 years there have been approximately 2 million m3 of the materials in a fly ash stockpile within proximity of the once largest coal-fired power plant. The stockpile is indeed surrounded by a wall, but according to a study, in the long-term, it will represent a major threat for the local residents as it is displaced every year by several mm. In addition, the fly ash is an important additive in the manufacture of cement and concrete. It must be prepared to remove foreign substances such as wood or metal and to limit the grain size to 70 mm for the cement industry. In a project that is the only one of its kind in Europe, the Belgian power supplier Elektrabel commissioned its subsidiary Tractebel Engineering (ENGIE) to dimension and install a processing plant.

Pipe conveyor

Until then, the bulk material has to be transported to the Maas that is approximately two km away. However, the terrain is mountainous. The use of trucks would imply driving on public roads for long distances. This would have caused detours, slowed down transport times and raised costs. In addition, the environment would be harmed by exhaust gases, dust and noise. The project lead opted for the company as economical alternative.

"To be able to support companies like Tractebel Engineering with turnkey solutions, we have bundled our comprehensive expertise worldwide spanning various industries and established different Centres of Competence", says Vincent Ferlay, Managing Director BEUMER Group France. "It includes also our Pipe Conveyor. This international team of BEUMER Group bundles the know-how and supports the Sales Department and the Project Management. With Tractebel ENGIE we have developed a solution adapted to the special routing and the ambient conditions", explained Ferlay.

Dust-free conveying

The system supplier provided a conveying system with a centre distance of 1800 m. "Due to the system design and the required system capacity, we have designed the pipe conveyor with a diameter of 260 mm," explained Ferlay. The conveyor transports 300 tph of fly ash at a speed of 2.3 mps. Most importantly however, the enclosed transport of this machine protects the environment from the dry and dusty material. This was an important requirement for the construction of this solution to be approved in the first place.

"The project planning absolutely had to guarantee a safe transportation of the material," reported Ferlay. "The fly ash had to be prevented from exiting or falling on the ground, even in the smallest quantities", since the route passes public motorways, railways and residential areas. The noise emission played an important role too. "We had to minimise the noise to an extremely low level," he described. The company developed sound-absorbing elements that were also used to enclose the pipe conveyor bridges. "Along certain line sections, the noise level had to be kept under 35 dB(A)," said Ferlay. This is also possible with special sound insulation, idlers and low-noise bearings.

The pipe conveyor transports fly ash across the open environment, navigates large inclines reliably and can be designed to accommodate tight curve radii. This is why only a few transfer towers are required, depending on the length of the conveyor, the terrain conditions and the curves. The company can customise the conveying system to match the individual routing, therefore protecting the environment and reducing the costs. The system supports are up to 10 m high. Durable conveyor belts guaranteeing tensile strength are used. The company makes use of own dimensioning programmes to determine the ideal belt design, thus enabling to analyse tractive forces but also forces which occur due to acceleration and deceleration – always taking into account the net weight of the belt and the transported material. This method also lets you calculate possible curve radii.

Efficient ship loading

The system supplier provided the turnkey system and all of the necessary components such as filters, strippers and dedusting units. The system provider also provided the engineering, automation and the steel structure, as well as loading systems: excavators load the material into hoppers and on vibrating feeders. From there it is transported to the feeding area of the pipe conveyor. The company installed a ship loader at the end of the conveyor line. It consists of a fixed boom with an extendable telescopic belt conveyor. This way the ships are loaded efficiently. The ship loader is also equipped with a dedusting unit which keeps the process emission-free. Every day, 2000 t of fly ash are loaded on a ship and from there transported to a cement plant.

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