two more placed in essential spots in the chute. All of the tanks were accompanied by a 4in (101mm) pipe assembly ending in fan jet nozzles. Designed with safety and low maintenance in mind, the cannons feature a centrally located outward-facing valve assembly that can be replaced within minutes, without the need to remove the tank from the vessel. To prevent the risk of unintentional firing due to drops in pressure, the innovative valve design requires a positive signal from the solenoid in the form of an air pulse to trigger release.

INSTALLATION AND TESTING Beginning with five cannons, one unit was placed at the area where material discharged into the hopper, two others were positioned at the hopper slope where the most accumulation was observed and two more were placed along the drop chute. Tese used straight pipe nozzles to shoot air across the vessel to dislodge adhered material and promote flow. “Te initial installation reduced the amount of downtime, but testing showed it did not cover enough area to fully

evacuate adhered material,” says Haynes. “More accumulation built up in transition sections of the hopper and discharge slope than initially thought. So we installed one more cannon at the top of the hopper and one at the bottom of the chute where it discharged. We also added fan jet nozzles to the pipe assemblies to cover more area, and that did the trick.”

RESULTS Operating on a regular firing schedule of every one-10 minutes – readjusted for production volume, time of year and moisture level – the seven-cannon configuration reduced clogging issues and downtime. Tis significantly lowered the risk to operators and reduced the cost of operation. “When I did the cost assessment, I was surprised to discover that there was a 1,000% savings in using the air cannons over the air lances,” Lakomowski says. “It’s a significantly lower effect on our system than initially predicted, and managers are very happy about that.” Te project also improved safety, as

workers spent less time diverted from other assignments to use air lances or create vibration by beating on the vessel walls. “Just from a safety aspect, this solution has paid for itself,” Lakomowski concludes.

Strategically positioned at a 30º angle, the cannons keep material flowing

Mike Moody is with Martin Engineering.


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