To reduce corrosion and maintenance while enhancing efficiency, pumps manufacturer Mather+Platt is applying polymer-based elastomeric material to its internal pump components as well as the external housing of the pump units.
The company notes that the advanced polymer material is unique to the market, as it has yet to be made commercially available, thereby ensuring that Mather+Platt has a distinct advantage over its competitors.
Marketing and business development manager Dave Johnson explains that the advanced polymer – a liquid substance that hardens to provide an abrasion-, corrosion- and chemically-resistant rock-hard glossy finish – was developed by a German-born South African industrial chemist based in Johannesburg.
Johnson notes that the environment-friendly coating has been tested by the Research Institute of America for 62 different chemical environments. It has been tested by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in hot, freezing, corrosive, chemical, metallic, bacterial, parasitic, radioactive and electrical environments, and awarded classification in potable water treatment.
Tests conducted by the CSIR’s Centre for Polymer Technology, in Pretoria, show that the polymer product, which comes with a ten-year guarantee, does not combust or propagate flames and is self-extinguishing, and can be used for steel corrosion protection on any kind of rusted steelwork structures, pipelines, tanks and vessels, with no sand blasting required. It is also environment friendly.
He says the material’s unmatched resistance to even the most acidic and corrosive compounds, such as hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide and sulphuric acid, make it invaluable when protecting pump components. “The chemical properties of fluids being pumped will affect a pump’s longevity and efficiency over time. The poorer the pump performs, the greater the load on the motor, and the more expensive it becomes to operate – if one considers that repairs, electricity costs and reduced productivity lead to reduced profitability.”
Johnson says, when calculating the overall efficiency of a pump and its motor, one needs to multiply the individual efficiency percentages. For example, if the output efficiency of a motor is 92% and the efficiency of the pump is 86%, overall efficiency is 79% (0.92 ℓ × 0.86 = 0.79).
Thus, despite the pump’s and/or motor’s individual capabilities, a pumping unit will always work at below-average efficiency. “It’s always an uphill battle,” he states.
Further, with pumps accounting for 20% of the world’s electricity consumption, improving pumping efficiencies is a strategic imperative, says Mather+Platt project expediting manager Richard Harper.
He adds that the company’s commitment to clients’ persistent success has ensured that it continues to improve its product designs to offer benefits that offer the company’s clientele a competitive financial saving.
Harper notes that the product applied is immensely versatile and can be used for several other applications, including mining applications such as a replacement for shotcrete. “Projects completed using a 3 mm lining of polymer product resulted in faster application and were stronger than projects using 50 mm fibre-reinforced shotcrete.” However, he reiterates that, from a pumping perspective, the coating offers increased longevity, reduced maintenance and improved efficiency, along with achieving financial benefits for the client.
Further, Mather+Platthas partnered with a cold galvanised product distributor supplying advanced cold galvanising technology called Rockguard, an anticorrosion coat, which, when used with the polymer product, improves the longevity of components by up to 20 years.
Harper comments that the US and the UK military have used the cold galvanising supplier for 12 years and, in addition, its products are marine approved. “Cold galvanising offers three-in-one protection,” says Harper. “Namely, it acts as a cathodic protection, rust inhibitor, and resin binder, providing supplementary surface protection, delaying zinc oxidation and extending longevity.” He adds that gold galvanising can refurbish worn out components that were previously hot dip galvanised.
Mather+Platt dewatering pumps treated with Rockguard are on trial at the mines of diversified miners Anglo American and African Rainbow Minerals, in Mpumalanga.
Mather+Platt also introduced redesigned mine dewatering, multistage centrifugal pumps toward the end of last year. Although the PL and PJ ranges were initially manufactured for mine dewatering, their capabilities are such that they are competitive in the African mining market, Johnson highlights.
“The pumps have a head of up to 1 600 m straight up and a flow rate of 800 m3/h at
1 200 m,” he comments, noting that the ranges are specifically suited to high-lift mine drainage duties and main line water supply applications, because of their high heads and proven reliability.
The pumps have several segments, held together by the main body bolts. Each middle segment has feet so that the pumps can be assembled in a horizontal position, “saving space, especially underground, where space is limited,” Johnson says.
The bearing brackets and bushes are designed with a horizontal split along the centre line, ensuring that the bearing assembly can be spilt without disturbing the alignment of the element or having to remove the pump, half coupling or driving unit. The bearing brackets are supported at the top and bottom, avoiding the distortion of the shaft alignment when the pump is under pressure.
While the standard pump components consist mostly of cast steel and phosphor bronze, alternative materials are available to suit customer specifications.
Johnson notes that Mather+Platt’s products are “so well-known” that the company has been able to secure work from mining companies, despite the depressed mining market over the past two years.
While the South African mining industry remains an important market for the company, Mather+Platt has continued to expand beyond the country’s borders, securing work with copper mines in Zambia and water authorities in Malawi, he concludes.