Keeping pipes free from blockage or slushy fluids is key in any industry. What is the best way for miners to prevent that from happening in their trade?
Don’t Let the Freeze Take Over
Nearly every industry has to deal with the potential danger of pipes freezing. In mining, it’s critical that slurry and other liquids are moved from point A in the pipeline to point B in the pipeline with no restrictions to flow. If freezing pipes or other restrictions happen, it is very costly and can shut the entire mining process down. Without proper preventative measures put in place, freezing pipes can and will happen.
Oil and gas industries also face issues with thickening fluids as a result of cold pipes. Low outdoor temperatures suck heat away from pipes that lack insulation or other heating protection, increasing fluid viscosity and slowing flows.
Volute and Ice Buildup
Vulnerable areas of piping include volute centrifugal pumps, which can be stopped by ice buildup. The volute area must be kept free of ice and snow. It should also be somewhat heated as to maintain a consistent temperature, one that will have little to no impact of the fluids flowing inside of it.
The problem with ice building in the volute area of the pump is that it transfers to the piping. This restricts the flow and eventually shuts the line down. This results in dreaded down time, which is very expensive for mining companies. Other problems can arise, such as pressure buildup that can lead to cracking or even a breakage of pipe, leaking fluids and causing an environmental catastrophe.
Pipe Freeze Protection
When cold weather strikes, preventing your pipes from freezing quickly becomes your number one priority. There are several methods of heating to turn to that can have some level of effect on thawing and maintaining heat on your pipe system, especially areas that are particularly vulnerable to ice buildup.
Heat tape, also known as heat trace, is a quick fix solution to frozen or freezing pipes. It consists of wrapped electrical wire or heat elements that provide warmth along the pipeline. Sometimes referred to as the “Band-Aid” of heating solutions, heat tape works best when you need a temporary solution. For long-term pipe heating fixes, you’re going to want to look into other options.
Similar to heat tape, self-regulating heating cables are lines of wire or heating elements coated in a protective layer of insulation. Often used for residential freeze prevention solutions as well as industrial, heating cables can be wrapped around pipes and provide direct contact heat. However, problems arise when exposed areas of the pipe don’t receive heat as well as those parts that are in contact with the heating cable.
A preventative measure to freezing is covering piping with insulation, putting layers of fiberglass or other insulating material between the pipes and the coldness of winter. Insulation alone is less effective due to its lack of ability to provide heat. Unless the fluids flowing through the pipes are heated, you’ll need a heat source to work with the insulation to properly protect piping.
Heating blankets are the most viable option for pipe freeze protection. Combining layers of insulation with heating elements embedded within the blanket, this method of pipe heating is preferred in nearly every industry worldwide. Heating blankets can be individually sized to fit irregularly sized parts of the pipe system, such as volute areas. Most heating blankets are economical too, being able to be reused cold season after cold season.
Powerblanket Pipe Heaters
Powerblanket heating blankets are made specifically designed to solve the problem of freezing pipes and eliminate costly down time. With Powerblanket custom applications, the volute area can be heated to prevent freezing. This keeps the pump and pipeline free of ice and working properly.
Advantages of Powerblanket pipe and pump heaters:
- Easily installed and removed
- Customizable for many sizes and shapes
- No need for costly contractors for installation
- Eliminates the hassle of putting on and taking off heat trace
- Energy efficient
Powerblanket has effective heating solutions for most pump and pipe heating needs. Stay ahead of the cold weather and eliminate freezing pumps and pipes with an effective and energy efficient heating source.
Powerblanket's equipment boxes keep your valves and manifolds from freezing in even the harshest outdoor environments.