Knowledge of fuel qualities is of ultimate importance for the efficiency of chemical plants or power stations. Although most blending yards are equipped with automatic samplers and the derived samples are processed in the laboratory, the quality variation of the blended product may still be strong. This is caused by several reasons. First of all the process of sampling, crushing, dividing and analysis is time consuming. Results are available only with a delay of two to 24 hours. During this time blending is operated without knowledge of the main parameters. Conveyors with high throughput require expensive sampling systems capable of handling samples which are representative. The frequency of sampling needs also to be high in order to be representative. This results in high maintenance costs and also downtime of the sampling system.
Online analysis of bulk materials has matured over time and today it can supplement but not replace laboratory analysis. As an example, J&C Bachmann has realised a coal quality monitoring system on the coal supply of a South African coal processing plant. The plant consumes ~42 Mt of coal per annum. The blending yard consists of two sets of three heaps where coal of six different mines is blended according to the factory’s requirement. From there, the blended coal is fed to the factory on two different belts.
In 2010 the plant installed a TEXAS X-ray fluorescence analyser as a trial. It was tested under different conditions on several belts before the customer decided to install six TEXAS analysers on the feed belts to the stackers and two more analysers on the reclaimer belts. All analysers are installed directly on the belt and not on a substream.
During the test period blending strategies were developed in close cooperation between the customer and J&C Bachmann. The use of the analysers in conjunction with the blending model has proven that the variation of the reclaimed coal quality was decreased significantly, which results in increased process performance and significant cost savings.
Bachmann, C C, Bachmann, J F, Cipold, M P and Ha, J, 2017.
Online quality control of a coal blending yard, in Proceedings Eighth World
Conference on Sampling and Blending , pp 125–128 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).