A hungry world needs sustainable options
12 May 2021
The world’s insatiable appetite means that we all have to think more sustainably if we are to secure a future for a growing population and its need for energy, food and infrastructure. It is not enough to simply maintain our current position. We need to apply radical thinking and new technologies to meet the tide of future demands; not just because the increases will be significant, but they have to be met within a framework of urgent environmental protection.
Industries are at the forefront of change and possess incredible power to implement positive shifts. For us, we recognize that we work in environmentally intensive sectors, making environmental protection even more pertinent.
Closing sustainability gaps
The need for sustainable, high-capacity, enclosed dry bulk material handling is vital. Future terminals will have to meet higher annual volumes because of increased populations, and the utilization rates of ports will have to improve.
In the simplest terms, dry bulk handing equipment needs to be dust-free, efficient, minimize vessel unloading times and maximize the operational profits of the terminal, whilst also ensuring no material is wasted through spillage, negatively impacting the environment and profitability.
We believe that it is time for historic, wasteful practices to be set to one side, and make way for better ones, capable of meeting modern demands in a way that protects the environment. However, change can be difficult; tradition often trumps innovation, but as dry bulk handling equipment lasts for decades, operators can potentially be stuck with sub-optimum performance and a sustainability gap for years.
Understanding equipment limitations
Not every piece of equipment can unload every material, but some are far less suitable than others. For example, powdery materials, such as cement and sulfur, often rule out the use of grab cranes; bucket chain unloaders are not used for grain handling, mainly due to their very high weight, which has a negative impact on cost. The unloader itself is also not completely enclosed in the transfer between the vertical and horizontal conveyor, and because of that dust can escape.
Chain unloaders are enclosed; however, they have some fundamental drawbacks for some materials. Similar to pneumatic unloaders, they lack the capability of withstanding any digging forces, making them unsuitable for any compacted bulk. This is the main reason why chain unloaders are not used for materials such as salt or coal, and neither pneumatics nor chain unloaders are used for fertilizers and soya meal, where digging forces are needed for efficient unloading. Where pneumatics are used, they require extremely extensive assistance from payloaders and excavators because of their limited hold reach.
What makes our systems sustainable?
Bruks Siwertell offers the most environment-friendly dry bulk handling products on the market. Our Siwertell unloading systems are fully enclosed, eliminating dust and spillage, and are extremely efficient, with excellent reach into the vessel’s holds, ensuring market-leading through-ship capacities and the fastest possible vessel turnarounds.
Throughout the world, Siwertell unloader installations handle more than 45 different bulk materials including biomass pellets, salt, cement, coal, all different kinds of grain and soya beans and soymeal as well as various types of fertilizers. They can switch between materials and be optimized to handle specific bulks.
For example, our salt handling unloaders have components that are specially designed to withstand salt’s corrosive effects and offer high digging forces to overcome its extreme compaction in the hold. Siwertell screw-type unloaders are also the only enclosed systems on the market that have the capability of handling highly volatile commodities such as sulfur; these systems are fitted with the specially designed Siwertell Sulfur Safety System (4S), which detects and extinguishes fires and mitigates the effects of sulfur explosions.
Siwertell screw-type unloaders are capable of unloading at very high capacities, regardless of bulk material type. High-capacity mega-terminals served by Siwertell screw-type ship unloaders include an installation in Liverpool, in the UK, which has a rated capacity of 1,800t/h for handling grain, and achieves an average capacity of 70 percent when unloading 75,000 dwt vessels, and transfer terminals on the Amazon River in Brazil unloading soya beans from barges at 1,500t/h at an average efficiency of 75 percent.
For other materials, a Siwertell cement unloader in Texas, in the US, has a rated capacity of 1,500t/h, and two unloaders at the Ha Tinh steel plant in Vietnam, each have a capacity of 2,400t/h when handling thermal and metallurgical coal. Both of these were ground-breaking for their time; the former set the highest cement-handling rates on the market in 2006 and the latter is the first installation of dedicated Siwertell coal unloaders for the steel industry.
Making a sustainable switch
An increasing human population also requires more energy. The global shift towards biomass to mitigate some of the effects of burning fossil fuels is seeing a huge spike in demand. Our wood-processing technology is used across this industry and our ship loading and unloading systems are at the forefront of meeting demands in port.
Biomass pellets are very dusty and sensitive to degradation, making them unsuitable for handling with grabs. Pneumatic unloaders are restricted in capacity. Again, our systems can offer the upper hand; Siwertell unloaders deliver a continuous rated biomass handling capacity up to 2,000t/h with minimal material degradation, making them ideal for meeting large-scale imports.
In fact, five UK-based Siwertell unloaders handle 70 percent of the total annual wood pellet imports in the country; at 1,200t/h they also set the industry standard rate for unloading pellets in the UK. We are already discussing the use of higher capacity biomass unloaders with operators.
Siwertell unloaders have a capacity range from 150t/h to 3,000t/h, all with market-leading efficiencies, regardless of the material handled. We believe that they offer the most sustainable dry bulk handling on the market in terms of efficiency, profitability and environmental protection, but we are not standing still.
With sustainability on the global agenda, we are advancing in efficiency and integrating new digital technologies if they hold the promise of adding value both for the operator and the environment.