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Non Clog Solid Handling Pumps For Animal Rendering Plant Cuts Downtime

11 September 2023

All industries create by-products that need to be reused, reprocessed or disposed of. Animal production and slaughter is no different, and this process can present particular challenges.

We were recently contacted by a client who required a high-capacity solid transfer pump who operated a facility which rendered animal products. They wanted a rugged, reliable unit which would pump a 50/50 mixture of water and dry solids made up of dry meat, bone and tissue solids at around 350L/min at 2 bar. 

Solid transfer can involve a wide variety of pump technologies depending on the result required. Models are available which can convey solids gently and without breakage, or units which can assist the next stage of processing which break any solids handled into smaller pieces. 

In this application high capacity solid transfer pumps were being used to help convert animal by-products into usable materials. The process separates the fat from the bone and protein, and produces three main products: water, protein and fat. The water is treated and reused onsite, with protein and fat are used in a range of products including pet food, biodiesel, biogas fuel and fertilisers.

The mixture had a viscosity of around 50,000cPs which is similar to ketchup or mustard. In addition, the formulation of the liquid and its consistency meant that it flowed slowly so a pump with a built-in hopper was required. 

Having a hopper built into the solid transfer pump ensures that the mixture doesn’t clog and the mechanical seal is not damaged through either dry running, or having oversized solids clogging the inlet.

Pump hoppers can be customised for a variety of liquids and applications, acting as a first stage in the process, feeding the pump with more manageable pieces and making sure that mixtures which don’t flow are fed into the pumping mechanism evenly. They are typically mounted below tanks, processing equipment or conveyors and directly into pipework.

Pumps vs conveyors
Progressive cavity pumps are a viable alternative for the conveying of sludges or high volumes of solids due to their long service intervals (up to 20,000 hours), ability to handle up to 45% dry solids, and also lower energy usage - up to 4-5 kW per hour, which can lead to substantial savings in particular in 24/7 applications. 

Progressing cavity pumps also offer a way to fully containerize a fluid handling system which can suffer from odour issues in particular within warm climates and temperatures. One issue with conveyors is that during periods of high volume processing sludge can spill from conveyors causing secondary odour issues. Oversized hoppers can be manufactured to connect to pipework ensuring high processing capability which also reduces the likelihood of them running dry.

Screw Auger ensures pump is consistently fed with material
Screw Auger ensures pump is consistently fed with material

Hoppers are available in a variety of designs which are customised according to the fluid requiring handling:

Bridge breaker
These are used to slice large solids found into more manageable pieces which can be accommodated by the pump without processing such as large salmon morts, waste fruit or vegetables. Fluids which rat hole such as viscous sludge, and prevent the free flow of liquids or obstruct pipework often need breaking up and kept moving via the use of paddles.

Auger feed
An auger is a large slow moving flat spiral-shaped screw that runs from one end of the hopper to the other, controlling flow and mechanically forcing material into the pump inlet. It’s specifically designed for dry solids and sludge which don’t flow freely and need feeding into the pump. It’s an essential part for this particular rendering plant application. 

Motorised wheel
When materials such as liquid mortar, resins, mud, blocks of fat or butter are pumped they can plasticise meaning they change shape rather than break up. This means that clogs form and block the rendering pump inlet. These need to be removed manually, again, resulting in more downtime. Manufactured from metal, a motorised wheel rotates 360°within the hopper to stop solids building up and clumping together.

Preventing seal damage
We fitted the high capacity solid transfer pump with a seal quench which is a device that applies unpressurised oil to a mechanical seal's faces to keep them clean and free from contamination. This helps to maintain seal integrity. This was important as the hopper pump would be handling large solids up to 41mm wide at high concentrations. 

Rendering pump speed is another vitally important factor during the pumping of solids. So we designed the pump to have a reduced pumping speed of 130rpm using the gearbox. This meant that the unit would suffer less wear and tear, and give many years of problem-free pumping to the client. 

If you’re looking to pump a liquid which doesn’t flow, contains large amounts of solids and easily solidifies, a hopper-fed progressing cavity pump could be the best solution for you. To find out more, speak to North Ridge Pumps to see how we can help.

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