Plastic Pipes in Mineral Processing: +30 Years Case Study in Potash Processing

 In Mineral Processing, Potash

Potash processing is a demanding processes, the combination of Wear+Heat+Brine is a challenge from a material selection, as these conditions are classified as sever services.

Pexgol Pipes story, now used in a variety of Mining and Mineral Processing sites, starts back in the early 1980’s. at the time the Potash Industry at the Dead Sea was experiencing too many, too often failures with their variety of Process Pipes. Pexgol manufacturer -Golan Plastics, was making domestic pipes at the time, with capability to make pipes up to 3″-4″.

So, when approached by the Potash Industry, asking if they can make a pipe to withstand 114°C (237°F) sized 12″ – As expected the reply by sales was immediately “Yes!”. Engineering where more hesitant. Not only that this size has never been attempted before with PE-Xa material, anywhere in the world, the working conditions where beyond any recommended parameters.

Fast Forward 2 years of testing and tooling equipment, the first line was installed in 1985, on a hot Sylvinite crystallization circuit.

What is remarkable is that these same pipes are still in operations today, and documented maintenance records show that the line has been off line 3 days a year on average for plant maintenance shut down.

Having established a strong relationship with a customer allowed continued developments of fittings like elbows, and continue exploration into what the Pexgol Pipe material can do, such is the case of wear.

One of the problems at the dead Sea, is the constant formation of NaCl deposits in the evaporation ponds, the problem is the presence of Hotels along that pond, which where about to be flooded by the rising water level. to do this it was necessary to “Harvest” these deposits and remove them from the pond.

Those familiar with the wear characteristics of NaCl deposits, will not be surprised by how quickly the project was running through the HDPE pipes. Based on very little known experience with abrasion properties, the Pexgol was installed and surprisingly not only it outlasted the whole Project, it was then stored for future projects.

Today Pexgol Pipes are available in 28″ sizes, and have a well defined and documented , operational envelope. This could not have been done without a few visionary engineers and sales people on the Client and the Manufacturer teams.

Lessons Learnt:

  1. Trials: if you have a new product, trials are key, it might be expensive exercise, but don’t expect any facility to be your guinea pig if you are not willing to put skin in the game – Don’t forget to establish a clear success criteria.
  2. Expect to be asked to put trial in worst conditions, you should ask to have several trial locations, to map out best fit in the plant.
  3. Your best “Beta Site” is your client, establish a relationship where you work together to grow from discovery to discover.
  4. Same Industry, similar process, similar problems: spend time to learn the process, and where you fit, this is key to expanding to other facilities.
  5. Dare.
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