Tag Archives: grains

4B Braime: Bucket Elevator Inspection

Leeds, United Kingdom – Periodic inspections of bucket elevators should be an essential part of any maintenance program. Often it is helpful to conduct these with a trusted vendor who can provide insight into solutions that go beyond just part replacement. The following are examples of common issues found during bucket elevator inspection programs conducted by 4B Components USA. This paper will provide suggestions on what to look for and explain the consequences of each issue. Continue reading 4B Braime: Bucket Elevator Inspection

Bacterial heating of cereals and meals


Reading the article “Wood Pellet Combustible Dust Incidentsof John Astad, I remembered the following.


All biological products are subject to deterioration.

This deterioration is caused by micro organisms (bacteria and micro flora)

 To prevent bacterial deterioration, it is necessary to condition the circumstances in such a way that micro organisms cannot grow.


1)      By killing the micro organisms through sterilization, pasteurization or conservation. In transport also the gassing with methyl bromide is common but not without danger.

2)      Creating an environment that micro organisms cannot develop by f.i. adding acids, salt, sweet or drying and cooling.


In storing cereals, grains, seeds, and derivatives, drying is the mostly used method to prevent bacterial heating.

 To prevent bacterial deterioration those materials need to be DRY before storing.

  Continue reading Bacterial heating of cereals and meals

Hooked on junk statistics

Our parents told us not to put all our eggs in one basket. This lesson has passed the test of time ever since the Easter Bunny got to working with real eggs. The world’s mining industry has put its basket full of junk statistics and got egg on its façade. Junk statistics does not give unbiased confidence limits for grades and contents of mineral reserves and resources. Annual reports, unlike opinion polls, do not sport 95% confidence intervals and ranges as a measure for the risks mining investors encounter. Many years ago I put classical statistics in my own basket. I thought I couldn’t go wrong because Sir Ronald A Fisher was knighted in 1953. But was I wrong? Matheron, who is often called the creator of geostatistics, knew very little about variances, and even less about the properties of variances.

Matheron deserved some credit because he didn’t put all core samples of a single borehole in one baskett. He would have lost all his degrees of freedom but wouldn’t have missed them anyway. He did derive the length-weighted average grade of a set of grades determined in core samples of variable lengths. What he didn’t derive was the variance of this length-weighted average. Matheron wrote a Synopsis for Gy’s 1967 Minerals sampling. Gy, in turn, referred to Visman’s 1947 thesis on the sampling of coal, and to his 1962 Towards a common basis for the sampling of materials. Visman bridged the gap between sampling theory with its homogeneous populations and sampling practice with its heterogeneous sampling units and sample spaces. Matheron never knew there was a gap.

Should a set of primary increments be put in one basket? Or should it be partitioned into a pair of subsets? Gy proposed in his 1977 Sampling of Particulate Matter a set of primary increments be treated as a single primary sample. He claimed the variance of a primary sample mass derives from the average mass and number of primary increments in a set, the properties of the binomial distribution, and some kind of sampling constant. I explained in Sampling in Mineral Processing why Gy’s sampling theory and his sampling constant should be consumed with a few grains of salt.

When I met G G Gould for the first time at the Port of Rotterdam in the mid 1960s, he told me how Visman’s sampling theory impacted his work on ASTM D2234-Collection of a Gross Sample of Coal. Visman’s sampling experiment is described in this ASTM Standard Method. Visman’s 1947 thesis taught me that the sampling variance is the sum of the composition variance and the distribution variance. I got to know Jan Visman in person here in Canada. I treasure my copy of his thesis. I enjoyed his sense of humor when we were griping about those who try to play games with the rules of classical statistics.

On-stream data for slurries and solids taught me all I needed to grasp about spatial dependence in sampling units and sample spaces. Fisher’s F-test is applied to test for spatial dependence, to chart a sampling variogram, and to optimize a sampling protocol.

Selecting interleaved primary samples by partitioning the set of primary increments into odd- and even-numbered subsets is described in several ISO standards. A pair of A- and B-primary samples gives a single degree of freedom but putting all primary increments in one basket gives none. Shipments of bulk solids are often divided in sets of lots so that lower t-values than t0.05; 1=12.706 apply. Monthly production data give ample degrees of freedom for reliable precision estimates. Those who do not respect degrees of freedom as much as statisticians do may cling to the notion that the cost for preparing and testing a second test sample is too high a price for some invisible degree of freedom. They just don’t grasp why confidence limits and degrees of freedom belong together as much as do ducks and eggs.

The interleaved sampling protocol gives a reliable estimate for the total variance at the lowest possible cost. It takes into account var2(x), the second variance term of the ordered set. It makes sense to take interleaved bulk samples in mineral exploration because they give realistic estimates for intrinsic variances in sample spaces. Both Visman and Volk, the author of Applied Statistics for Engineers, were conversant with classical statistics. Geostatistically gifted gurus made up some new rules, fumbled a few others, got hooked on a basket of junk statistics, and are doomed to end up with egg on their faces. What a waste of human and capital resources!

Bulk Powder Density

The first two things to consider about bulk density are the nature of the bulk material and establish the purpose for which the measurement is to be made. This is because the bulk density of a powder is strongly dependent upon both the nature of the particles and the manner is which the sample is prepared and measured. This is considerably more important for some powders compared to others. The density of fine powders is very sensitive to the amount of gas that is trapped in the voids and to the stresses acting on the bed of material. On the other hand, the density attained by firm, coarse particles depends much more on the conditions of formation of the bulk and to the geometry of the measuring container. This is because air can escape from the coarse bulk easily, the contact structure of large grains can sustain relatively large forces before yielding and a wall contact surface constrains the way in which the large particles can nest together.

The dimensions of the contact structure in a bed of fine particles is heavily dependent on the amount of air in the voids, because it is more difficult for the gas to escape through the tortuous paths of the narrow void gaps. As a consequence, forces acting on the bed due to the overpressure of the weight of particles are partly supported by the gas pressure and the bed is compressed. In extreme conditions of dilatation the residual forces between particles is ineffective in resisting their relative movement and the mass behaves as a fluid. At the other end of the scale, when the bulk has settled to a dense condition and the void pressure is ambient, the contact between fine particles in close proximity incurs molecular attractive forces that assume high prominence. Shear is also opposed by the resistance to expansion of the bed in these compacted conditions, because the increasing void volume creates a partial vacuum as the low permeability of the bed prevents ambient gas from easily meeting the demand.
To understand these influencing factors in more detail it is necessary first to consider the mechanics of particulate structures. An excellent review of the packing characteristics of particulate solids is described in a Chapman & Hall book by W.A.Gray on The packing of solid particles. The next step is to consider the effect of the void gas on flow behaviour. This is usually air, as there is rarely interest in the density of a bulk material in vacuum conditions, although this special state does remove many complications. An informative paper by Bruff and Jenike, – A silo for ground anthracite in Powder Technology 1, 1967/68, pp 252 – 256, illustrates well the significance of void air content and the effect that this can have on flow.

The importance of the reason for interest in bulk density is that, even under static conditions, this value may be stable or transient depending upon the state of the bulk material. The best way to consider this is to consider the effect of a powder settling from a condition of quiescent fluidisation. Air will permeate from the voids according to many factors, such as the viscosity of the gas, the permeability of the pore structure and the geometry of the powder bed. Ultimately, the pressure in the voids will come to equilibrium with the ambient surrounds and then the density will reflect the loads acting on the assembly of particles. A bed of fine particles will compact with loading as the packing order of the particles is disturbed. Coarse particles are more easily re-shuffled by vibration than direct loading as the relatively small number of particle to particle contact points can readily form a load path but are vulnerable to dislocation by erratic disturbances.

The main point is that density measurements should reflect the conditions of interest for the application. e.g dilated settlement for filling and small scale storage, compacted state for large scale storage, pressings and tableting. Agitated dilatation correlates with active conveying methods such as screw, scraper conveying and chute transfer. Fluidised bulk measurement is needed to relate to dilute phase pneumatic conveying. It is interesting to note that there are about twenty British Standards for density measurement, ranging from the density of feathers and down for filling pillows to various specialised mineral commodities.

For cheap, general purpose use, a one litre measuring cylinder from any large chemist or home brewing supply shop will suffice. This should be filled with about 750 cc, of material and shaken vigorously, then set down to rest. When the contents have settled to a stable condition, the volume and weight will determine what may be called the loose settled state of density.

Raising and dropping the cylinder 20 times from a height of about 25mm onto a hard surface will normally give a consistent value of tapped density. This will align with the lightest condition of material that is transported by road, rail or in-plant movement.

Heavier compaction may be measured in a small, shallow, circular cell that is subjected to increasing step loads and the volume reduction measured by a dial gauge. A plot of the load/compaction curve is a powerful characterisation method and allows the density at significant stress levels to be quantified. Janssen’s formula may be used to determine the pressures acting in a silo

At the dilute end of the scale, a fluidising cylinder may be used to determine the expanded state and the settling rate of fine powders. A deep bed will illustrate the effect of diminishing porosity. For this test the ambient temperature should be similar to the conditions of use and be noted because the viscosity of a gas increases with temperature. This feature tends to explain why products from kilns and driers are more prone to behave in a fluid manner than when in a cold condition.

A large container is required to measure the density of very coarse particles. This is to avoid bias caused by the effect of a confining surface on the nesting structure of particles that extends up to 5 or 6 particle diameters from each wall.

Generally no expensive equipment is needed to measure bulk density but a thorough appreciation of bulk material behaviour is necessary to avoid drawing false assumptions or conclusions. This is particularly true when assessing the effect of bulk density on flow behaviour or bulk strength, where a powerful correlation can be developed from a proper understanding of the fundamentals of powder technology. The shear strength of a powder is dependent upon both the stresses acting on the bulk and the ‘state’ of the material. This later condition is a feature of the stress history of the bulk, but may be generally characterised by its bulk density. The isotropy of the material and stresses must also be taken into account for a thorough understanding, but this aspect warrants later detailed explanation.

For more information about powder testing, see the web site http://www.ajax.co.uk.