Have you ever heard the term, ‘bulk material handling’? If you’re in the industry, no doubt it’s a well-worn phrase. But for those of you out there wondering what it is, and how it relates to coal-fired power plants, allow us to broaden those horizons for you.
Let us start with the basics. What is bulk material handling? Well, no prizes for guessing that it pertains to the handling of bulk materials – specifically, it relates to the engineering of certain types of equipment that are integral to handling dry materials. Those large-scale conveyor belts you may have seen when driving past a power plant? That’s an example of bulk material handling equipment. Or the feeders often seen loading ships with goods? Those are shiploaders, and, yes, same again. If the equipment relates to the general transportation of bulk materials, it’s part of the bulk material handling world.
“So what about coal-fired power plants? What sort of equipment is required to keep those running and delivering coal?”
As you might expect, conveyor belts are a key component for such locations. They provide an easy way to move coal from one location to another with relative ease. But it’s by no means the only method available for transportation. Wagon tipplers, sometimes known as railcar dumpers, are also a common sight. These particular vehicles can be rotated, car and rail, so that the entire contents of the wagon can be literally dumped.
Crushers are another piece of equipment that those working on sites will be familiar with. No prizes for guessing where these come in to the manufacturing process – they’re designed to crush hard materials, allowing for easier transportation and use. This is typically after the bulk materials have been piled up by none other than a stacker. This machine does exactly what it says on the tin, allowing those operating it to collect the bulk material in a single location, making it much easier to then transport it to where it needs to go.
Oh yes, the actual use – in coal-fired power plants, this doesn’t just happen by magic (unless you wish it really, really hard). At this stage, what’s required is a sophisticated feeder control system. A feeder system allows a fixed amount of coal into the boiler, depending on how much is required at any given time. There are some major benefits to using a feeder in a coal-fired power plant, including both efficiency and savings in fuel usage.
Bulk material handling is a crucial part of the manufacturing industry, especially in coal-fired power plants. In fact, without engineers working on such vital equipment, it would literally grind to a total halt. Now that’s worth remembering the next time you pass a conveyor belt busily chuntering along on a coal site.