AIMM Technologies, an industry service company with a solid track record, partnered with Spiroflow to tackle a unique challenge: recovering sulfur in Alaska. This blog explores their success story, demonstrating the importance of innovative bulk bags of sulfur solutions in the world of sulfur recovery.
The Sulfur Recovery Challenge
Sulfur, a valuable by-product of diesel fuel, had remained underutilized due to low market value for years. The turning point came when the price surged in 2007, making recovery economically viable. AIMM Technologies stepped in to make this happen.
Brooks Bradford, President of AIMM Technologies, highlighted the immense logistical challenges of recycling hazardous sulfur in Alaska. To address this, they needed a fast, efficient solution to bag, store, transport, and load the sulfur onto ships for market delivery. They decided that using bulk bags was the way to go, with a key requirement being that the bagging facility should be easily transferable to another site once the current operation was done.
After thorough research, AIMM Technologies selected Spiroflow Systems Inc., mainly for its ability to meet a tight four-week delivery schedule, including installation and startup within an additional two weeks. The project began in mid-February 2007, intending to have the facility operational by the end of March, an ambitious timeline that Spiroflow was the only supplier able to meet. Most other suppliers they contacted required 12 weeks or more for delivery.
Choosing One of the Top-Notch Belt Conveyor Manufacturers – Spiroflow Systems
AIMM Technologies needed a reliable partner to fill bulk bags efficiently. After thorough research, they selected one of the most reliable conveyor systems manufacturers – Spiroflow. This was mainly due to the company’s ability to meet tight deadlines and its equipment’s exceptional features.
The Bulk Bag Fillers
We supplied two of our “Spirofil” Model C1-2 Weigh Fillers, which are specially designed for pallet-loaded bulk bags – Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers (FIBCs). The Model C1-2 is ideal for FIBCs of 2,000 to 4,000 lbs capacity that are removed from the filler on a pallet when full.
Model C1-2 Fillers incorporate an NTEP-approved weight platform, and those supplied to AIMM were complete with integral powered rollers for fast and easy removal of filled bags. The FIBCs at Kenai each held 3,300 lbs of material, were 3.0 feet in diameter and were custom-made of conductive polyester for the safe handling of sulfur with a flexible screw conveyor. Once filled, the FIBCs were powered off of the fillers onto gravity roller “accumulating” conveyor technologies, where they awaited removal by forklift truck.
The two bulk bag fillers underwent customization at our facility in Monroe, North Carolina, before being shipped. Notably, the power supply required adjustments to meet the specifications of US Class 1, Division 2 standards, as sulfur is highly combustible, and any electrical spark had to be prevented.
Following the manufacturing and customization process, the two bulk bag fillers were securely affixed to a skid for transportation to the Kenai, Alaska, site. The journey by truck to Alaska spanned a total of five days. To ensure a seamless installation and operation, we also dispatched a Commissioning Engineer, who spent two weeks overseeing the setup, commissioning the fillers, and providing training to the personnel on-site. Brooks Bradford, President of AIMM Technologies, expressed gratitude for the invaluable training support, given their prior unfamiliarity with bulk bag fillers.
Bulk Bag Filling System
The sulfur recovery facility at the Kenai petroleum refinery was equipped with a substantial 28-foot high framework designed to support key components, including a feed hopper, two Spiroflow Model “C1-2” Bulk Bag Fillers, and a pair of roller “accumulating” conveyor belt systems. The 3,300 lb (approximately 1.5 metric tonnes) bags, once filled, were smoothly transported from the fillers to the gravity roller conveyor belt solutions.
Forklift trucks were employed to efficiently handle these bags. They either transported the bags to the storage yard or loaded them directly onto trucks for subsequent delivery to the dockside in the nearby port of Homer, which was approximately a three-hour drive from the refinery.
AIMM Technologies designed the 28-foot high support frame and the hopper into which the sulfur from the sulfur stockyard was loaded, whilst we were responsible for customizing two of their “Spiroflow” Bulk Bag Fillers and designing a square “trouser leg” chute system that attached to the bottom of the feed hopper. Control of the sulfur from the feed hopper down either of the trouser-leg chutes and into the bulk bag fillers was by way of a series of diverter valves and slide gate valves.
Efficient Sulfur Loading and Filling Process
Sulfur was loaded into the bulk bag fillers’ feed hopper by a bucket loader from the storage pile on the refinery site. The sulfur was dumped on a conveyor belt system by a bucket loader and moved up a 30-foot incline to the top of the hopper. Since the sulfur has extraordinary binding properties and weighed 125 lbs/cu ft, it had to be funneled, not poured, into the hopper to ensure easy discharge into the trouser leg chute.
From the hopper, the material was directed through the diverters to the bulk bag fillers. The remote-mounted controllers, supplied by us, opened and closed the gate valves according to the weight of the bags. When the bags were close to their target weight, the controller shut down the flow rate through the gate valves, allowing only a trickle flow into the bag until it reached its 3,300 lb capacity.
The custom-designed FIBC had straps that attached to the fillers’ bag support hooks, one at each corner. These automatic, quick-release latching hooks released the straps when signaled to do so by the controller, thus allowing the pallet-mounted bags to be driven off the fillers by the powered rollers onto the queuing conveyor belts.
Explore the Sulfur Processing Success
The Vice President of AIMM Technologies’ Alaska Division, Jeff Deese, said the facility operated for 14 weeks, processing an impressive 27,000 bulk bags of sulfur. Averaging 300 bags per shift, the project successfully recovered 36,000 tons of sulfur, with support from Spiroflow Systems making it all possible.
Bags were transported from the storage facility using one of the four dedicated trucks that continuously conveyed them to the Port of Homer, situated approximately three hours away from Kenai, Alaska. Subsequently, the sulfur was sold in Homer to a third-party entity, which then facilitated its shipment to an inland river port in China, where its primary application is as a fertilizer.
The bulk bag-filling facility was recently disassembled and is currently undergoing reconstruction at another sulfur recovery site in Canada. This new location has been modified to accommodate 4,000 lb bags instead of the 3,300 lb bags handled at the Kenai facility, marking a significant capacity increase of 21%.
Future Endeavors With AIMM Technologies
The facility has now been dismantled for reassembly at a new sulfur recovery site in Canada, showcasing an increased capacity of 4,000 lb bags. AIMM Technologies, a specialist in solving challenges for the petroleum and chemical industries, provided turnkey services for this project in Alaska and beyond.
AIMM Technologies Is a Global Partner for Industry Solutions
AIMM Technologies is a specialty company that provides solutions to problems and performs services for refineries, petrochemical plants, and utility plants. The company has 14 offices in 11 countries. In Alaska and Puerto Rico, the company has a service company offering turnkey services for petroleum and chemical facilities. For information on sulfur recovery or AIMM Technologies services, call AIMM Technologies, Inc. at 001 409-945-5144 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. AIMM Technologies can be found on the web at www.aimmtechnologies.com.
Enhancing Sulfur Recovery With Spiroflow Conveyor Solutions and AIMM Technologies
In the challenging landscape of sulfur recovery in Alaska, AIMM Technologies found an invaluable partner in Spiroflow. Its innovative industrial conveyor systems not only met the tight delivery timelines but also provided the efficiency and reliability needed for handling hazardous materials.
The success of this project is a testament to the power of collaboration and cutting-edge solutions in overcoming complex logistical challenges. To explore how Spiroflow’s tubular and belt conveyor system can elevate your industrial processes, contact us today. Let Spiroflow empower your operations for a more efficient and safer future.