A pioneer in the use of flash dryers for the drying of mineral concentrates, as well as fluidised bed agglomerators and cone dryers for food products, among other technologies, the company has been involved in most of the largest min- ing, chemical and fast-moving consumer goods drying projects in South Africa in the last ten years, says MD Thierry Johannes.
He says that the firm is at the forefront of the development of coal-fired fluidised bed combustion in South Africa and its Firesand technology is widely regarded as the most prominent in the field of hot-gas generation for drying applications and has established a solid reputation as a process-plant equipment supplier, providing innovative solutions to industry’s requirements.
According to Johannes, the company also specialises in the design of customised solutions in the field of drying, cooling and calcining, control systems for drying installations, in particular in conjunction with fluidised bed combustors. The company undertakes consulting assignments, conducting audits on existing installations with a view to resolving operational and control problems, as well as increasing plant capacity.
This year, it started three such assignments for one of the leading platinum producers.
One of the company’s current projects is the design and manu- facture of a pilot plant high-temperature calciner for a pilot process plant which could revolutionise the treatment of acidic run-of-mine water.
This installation will be erected on the site of one of the largest coal producers and should be completed in the first quarter of 2007.
Recognising the strategic importance of energy for the future, the firm is actively pursuing the processing and drying of biomass for either fluidised bed incineration or for the production of green fuels, with a view to reducing carbon- dioxide emissions.
Johannes believes this technology has become increasingly significant in countries which have ratified the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse-gas emissions.
The company is designing a large drying installation for the drying of biomass in order to produce wood pellets for the export market.
The completion of this turnkey project is scheduled for early next year.
The use of coal in various pro-cesses requiring heat, either directly or indirectly, remains one of their specialities, with the next-generation Firesand hot-gas generator on the drawing board.
The new improved design could see its first commercial application by the end of 2007.
As it is projected that many of the higher-quality coal seams in South Africa will have been depleted by the year 2020, the industry is increasingly turning its attention to the reclamation of coal fines.
Johannes believes that, for that to be a success, it would require the beneficiation of the fines and the drying in order to meet international calorific value requirements.
The thermal drying of coal fines has always been a challenge owing to its potential to cause fires. Drying at high temperature using air poses significant risks.
Anticipating this need, the company is building an innovative pilot plant dryer for this application.
For a period of six years, the com- pany licensed its technology to another local company and, according to Johannes, “following a period of unsatisfactory performance, rescinded the licence to resume direct activity in the marketplace”.
He comments that drying tech-nology is often considered a necessary evil, but that the change made in the industry by legislation and protocol to focus on environment-sound processing strategies means that industrial drying has become more important with regard to industry’s overall potential and is able to ensure efficient environment-sound solutions, designed for clients’ specific requirements.