Viscoprop Impellers by EKATO

Posted in: , on 31. Jan. 2011 - 17:00

Agitator upgrade enables process engineers to save 20 minutes from nine hour batch time and use 60 percent less energy consumption than the previous legacy system

Process engineers at AkzoNobel’s Birmingham coatings facility have chosen the EKATO agitators to reduce energy consumption, while at the same time increasing the overall throughput and production capacity. With a goal to reduce maintenance costs and meet the needs of increasing volumes the new agitators have delivered a reduction in energy consumption of over 60 percent and batch time by 20 minutes. The payback on the investment is under three years with this level of improvement.

The site manufactures water-based coatings used to protect the food and beverage contents from the metal can, as well as the metal can from the contents. Growing demand meant the firm needed cost effective improvements to lower batch times and reduce the number of breakdowns to reach a threefold increase in volume. “The existing five tonne vessel used 75 kW per mixing vessel,” says AkzoNobel’s Engineering Manager, Scott Love. “We also had a higher level of maintenance, due to a build up of material around the agitator shaft and heating coils, reducing heat transfer capability which ultimately increases the process times and requires cleaning every three months.” A range of solutions such as adding additional baffles and retro fit impellers was tried, yet none offered the improvements needed.

AkzoNobel approached EKATO, a leading provider of agitator and mixing technology for over 70 years in this and other manufacturing sectors, to see what technologies were available. The existing reactor was upgraded with EKATO’s new Viscoprop Impeller and electric motor technology to take advantage of the improved efficiency by using a smaller 15 kW motor. “This smaller motor still achieves better mixing performance than the previous 75kW unit that AkzoNobel were using, with a lower capital investment.” says EKATO UK’s technical sales engineer William Pocock.

From an extensive range of agitators and impellers, EKATO can optimize the design for any application. “We are able to tune the impellers based on the viscosity of the liquid,” adds EKATO UK’s managing director John Smith. “By selecting the optimal impeller, we can minimise power and torque input which can reduce the agitator shaft size, which results in significant cost savings.”

The introduction of the EKATO impellers on the Birmingham facility reduced the nine hour batch time by 20 minutes. One of the reasons for this reduction has been the improved heat transfer, which accelerates the chemical reaction, improves product circulation and reduces solids build-up on the internal heating coils which reduces the need for a chiller, resulting in further energy savings. The EKATO impellers blend the base elements evenly through the batch, achieving a more consistent product quality and reducing process excursions. Internal cleaning of the reactor has now become an annual procedure as opposed to quarterly or between manufactured batches, resulting in less down time on the plant and waste generated from the cleaning procedure.

“This investment will significantly help our organization make strides with process reliability, energy consumption and environmental matters,” concluded Greg Methven, AkzoNobel Site Manager of Birmingham. “This is a step toward achieving our sustainability ambitions for 2015, and beyond; which we are well on the way with.”

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