A large order of 24 ceramic impellers destined for pumping equipment in a copper mine in the DRC signals the value this technology brings through longer wear life and less plant downtime.
Designed and manufactured in South Africa by Multotec Wear Linings, part of the Multotec Group, the ceramic impellers can be a viable alternative to conventional pump impellers and in the right application are expected to last up to five times longer.
“The impellers will be used in slurry pumping applications where particle sizes are less than 6 mm in size,” says Mark Jarrett, Business Development Manager at Multotec Wear Linings. “The ceramic solution is particularly effective in resisting abrasion, and also deals well with high levels of either acidity or alkalinity.”
The ceramic design, in which alumina ceramic components are bonded mechanically and chemically onto a stainless steel impeller skeleton, is growing in popularity. Multotec Wear Linings has been supplying ceramic impellers into the market place for many years and some 300 ceramic impellers have already been exported by Multotec Wear Linings into the African market during the past four years.
“The key advantage of our ceramic technology is to lengthen the replacement intervals for these wear parts,” says Jarrett. “This, in turn, reduces downtime on the plant and raises productivity, invariably delivering positive impacts to the bottom line.”
To further enhance the ceramic value-add, Multotec also offers ceramic components on certain other strategic pump components.
“Our ceramic shaft sleeve, for instance, also contributes to longer life, and can be replaced easily without the risk of damaging the shaft,” he says. “We can also provide other components – such as the throat bush and the frame plate liner – with ceramic protection for better wear resistance and longer service life.”
Ceramic impellers are available in various standard sizes, but there is scope for the development of custom solutions to suit the customers’ needs. They have been successfully applied in mainly gold and copper operations, primarily in the tailings and leaching circuits, as well as other aggressive environments.
Jarrett emphasises that all applications of ceramic solutions must first be thoroughly investigated before the best option is finalised.
“Our experienced Multotec technical professionals will conduct a detailed and methodical assessment of the customer’s plant conditions before recommending the appropriate solution,” he says. “We consider the key characteristics of the plant process to confirm if the ceramic solution is the optimal one. This includes understanding the total wear conditions of the plant system.”