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How to Design the Best Bin, Silo, Hopper, or Feeder

September 29, 2015

An improperly designed silo, bin, or hopper can be fixed but the repairs may be costly, laborious, or both and it may be easier to simply start from scratch. That’s why it is important to get the design right the first time, according to Joe Marinelli, president of Solids Handling Technologies.

“Often silo design or material flow properties are ignored until it’s too late,” Marinelli said.

Marinelli should know – he has spent more than 40 years working as a consultant testing powders and bins and silos for material flow. In that time, Marinelli has seen users experience a multitude of problems when trying to get their powder or bulk material to flow; a lot of times the problems come because the user is expecting the material to flow like a liquid.

“A big mistake that people make is that they think a solid will flow like a liquid – and that’s not the case,” Marinelli said.

Marinelli will discuss how to design the best kind of bin, silo, hopper, or feeder at Powder & Bulk Solids Texas, October 13-14, as one of two conference sessions he will present.

His first conference session, “Design Theory: Best Bets for Hoppers, Silos, and Feeders”, will focus on the fundamentals to ensure reliable material flow and will examine flow problems with bins, silos, hoppers, and feeders, and then look at solutions.

Marinelli’s second presentation, “Segregation of Particles & How to Control It”, follows immediately after his first presentation. In his second session, Marinelli will examine the mechanisms that cause segregation such as sifting, fluidization, air entrainment, and will look at case histories of particle segregation and how to solve the problem.

No-flow issues – particularly arching and ratholing – is the main issue most users will experience when using bins, silos, hoppers, Marinelli said. His presentation in the first session will examine solutions such as flow aids to get material moving again.

Find out more from Joe Marinelli about how to design hoppers, silos, and feeders and more at
Powder Show Texas October 13-14, 2015 at the NRG Center in Houston.

While particle segregation is not experienced as frequently as flow issues, the issue can be more difficult to solve, he said. The two conference sessions are partially related in that an improperly designed piece of equipment can cause particle segregation.

But Marinelli says one of the main causes for many of the problems that users experience in all of these issues is they don’t know the material which with they are working. When users know how their material flows it helps them both with the design of their silo and bin as well as helps to prevent material segregation problems. Some powdered materials flow better than others.

For instance, material such as plastic pellets or sand flow easily and is not typically susceptible to segregation. However, a more difficult material such as titanium dioxide is much more susceptible to flow problems as it can build up on the walls easily.

Joe Florkowski is the managing editor for Powder & Bulk Solids. He can be reached at joe.florkowski@ubm.com

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