The engineered polymer Vesconite, which is traditionally used for bearings, can reduce fire risks for solvent extraction (SX) plant, notes polymer developer Vesconite, adding that it has been installed on base plates for centrifugal pumps at pumps manufacturer SAM Engineering.
The motors are flameproof and atmosphères explosibles (ATEX) certified – a European safety standard for electrical equipment in hazardous environments. As such, Vesconite is therefore not required to isolate against stray current from the motor, which is fitted with earth studs. “Instead, the Vesconite pads isolate the pumps against stray current that travels in the copper solution or other equipment in SX plants,” says SAM Engineering technical sales department representative Rowen Govender.
Like many polymers, Vesconite is a good insulator. What differentiates it from other polymers is that it is dimensionally stable and does not absorb water. Importantly, it handles high static load without deformation, which is critical for SX pumps as they are heavy, explains Govender.
He adds that, the 400 kW motor coupled to the SAM pump supplied to SX plants typically weighs3 500 kg, and pumps 2 000 m3/h to 2 500 m3/h to a head of 40 m to 45 m.
Each pump is mounted on to three Vesconite isolation pads that are located, in turn, on a stainless-steel base.
SX plants are the heart of the copper processing operation. Fire protection is important to prevent loss of life, and to reduce the likelihood of a plant fire, which could result in significant equipment replacement costs and considerable costs if a plant is not operational for lengthy periods.
Govender highlights that SAM Engineering has had considerable success in harsh mining and processing environments. It prides itself in custom pumps made for operation-critical applications.