Keeping coal clean

 Clean coal has been touted as the energy source of the future.

Its use in power generation and as a fuel source with low emissions has garnered a lot of attention.

Ultra clean coal (UCC) technology has been developed by the UCC Research Centre which converts raw coal into ash free coal that can be used as a diesel substitute. 

Part of this technology development saw a number of Watson-Marlow Bredel pumps used in the up-scaling of the procedures at the Centre’s working pilot plant in Cessnock, NSW.

Pilot plant superintendent Richard Jackson explained that “we needed accurate and reliable pumps to handle the low flows, and centrifugal pumps just couldn’t cope.

“The pumps also needed to be flexible to handle a variety of flowrates.”

The UCC Research Centre looked to Watson-Marlow Bredel’s peristaltic pumps as the solution to their processing issues as one of the main advantages of the pumps is that they are self-priming and dry running, making them much easier to run.

Additionally peristaltic pumps have only one wearing part and there are inherently no intrusions in the flow path, which diminishes the risk of blockages in it and ancillary equipment. 

Maintenance is also easy, Jackson saying “they’re pretty good to maintain…the boys can do a sock change very quickly and easily, the hoses last a good distance too considering some of them are in operation most of the time”.

The UCC pilot plant used a group of SPX50, SP40, and SPSPx32 Bredel pumps as “they are well suited to our duty cycles, can be easily controlled via the central control system and the pushing action makes them ideal for the slurries we process,” Jackson stated.

The pumps are used through the pilot plant’s interconnecting modules to move an assortment of
different coal based slurries and process fluids. 

After the coal is crushed, then finely ground, it is mixed with caustic soda and then pumped by SPX40s as a slurry into the reaction vessel pumps.

Following digestion the product is conveyed to filtration by another SPX40.

This filtered coal is then mixed with sulphuric acid and moved through the remaining washing and filtration circuits using a combination of SPX50s and SPX40s.

In addition to this main process, all recoverable minerals and chemicals are reused or formed into byproducts such as gypsum. 

Filtrate from the system is pumped to the process solution regeneration process using a number of SPX40s and SPX32s as required.

At various stages, the pumps were also used to recirculate slurries during the reaction process.

According to the UCC Research Centre, the Watson-Marlow Bredel pumps played a significant role in the up-scaling of the pilot plant and will be considered by the designers for pumping when the technology gets to a production size scale. 


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