Sand-washing technology fosters sustainability

By |  February 27, 2017

Our greatest resource is our water,” says Christopher Larson, president of Wissota Sand & Gravel, a Milwaukee-based aggregate supplier.

As its third-generation owner, Larson is keenly focused on sustainability initiatives, the latest being the installation of new sand-washing technology that allows cost-efficient fines recovery and the conservation of valuable water resources. The operation is utilizing an innovative new system that combines a fine-material washer and a dewatering screen in a single machine.

“Its advantages are far-reaching. We’re realizing these benefits at a fraction of the typical costs per ton in this application,” Larson says.

Water conservation

Photo courtesy of Superior Industries

Overhead view of the Aggredry dewatering washer. Photos courtesy of Superior Industries

When using its prior sand screws, Larson says the sand was coming out at about 25 percent moisture content.

“Per my calculations, we were losing about 400 gallons of water per minute – and the water was going to a part of the operation where it could not be recovered,” he says. “Replacing that water would require pumping it from a deep well or finding some surface water within the operation that could be recovered.”

It was the latter costly challenge, he stresses, that led to the acquisition of the Aggredry dewatering washer, which is designed and manufactured by Superior Industries. Larson describes the new system as “making a lot of sense in its unique combination of two tried-and-true technologies: sand screws and high-frequency screens.”

The Aggredry system at Wissota features twin 60-in., fine-material screws (600 tph) combined with twin high-frequency dewatering screens. “Our sand is coming off the two screens at 8 percent moisture content and requires no drying time. Plus, we’re saving about 350 gallons of water per minute,” Larson says.

The washed material is conveyed to finished product stockpiles and is immediately saleable. “With our prior sand screws, the 25 percent moisture content would cause material to stick to conveyor components or to slough off into the wheels of the radial stacker. With the new system, we have eliminated that problem. The dry material is easy to convey even when the stacker is elevated to its full height, allowing us to manage our stockpiling far more effectively,” Larson says.

Fines recovery

Photo courtesy of Superior Industries

The Aggredry system at Wissota Sand & Gravel features twin 60-in., fine-material screws combined with twin high-frequency dewatering screens.

For optimum fines management at the wash circuit, the Aggredry dewatering washer is engineered with a fines recovery system where minus-0.25 mm sand collects in an under flume and is reintroduced back into the sand screw via a water jet. This patented technology saves up to 3 percent of the material from a waste pond.

Larson says fines management is a major concern. “We were concerned whether the water jet on the system should run back into our pump or back into the sand screw,” he explains. “Superior Industries said that it would be easier to manage the fines with the water jet going back into the sand screw, and they were right.”

In the past, Larson says Wissota had to be very selective on what could be run through the wash plant. “If we hit a dirty spot in the pit, we weren’t able to get enough fines out of the sand. With our new system, we can process dirtier material and still manage the fines on the wash end of the plant. This gives us more throughput without having to be so particular about the material coming from the primary circuit. That’s a big advantage, as the face of the pit is always changing,” he says, adding his operation crushes 1.8 million tpy, with about 1.5 million tpy going through the wash plant.

Larson says his operation sees very little waste. The fines that are washed out of the Aggredry system go to a set of cyclones where material between minus-#200-mesh and #400-mesh is processed out, stockpiled and sold as bedding material for nearby livestock facilities. Any material that is minus-#400-mesh is treated within a clarifier/flocculant system, with the solids being pumped into a retaining area and used for reclamation.

Cost-per-ton savings

Photo courtesy of Superior Industries

The low moisture content of the final sand product at Wissota Sand & Gravel can be seen here.

Prior to the purchase of the new Aggredry system, Larson conducted considerable research into the various sand-washing solutions on the market. Compared to the use of cyclones and pumps, which can produce similar results in some applications, he especially liked the reduction of horsepower needed to operate the Aggredry dewatering washer.

John Bennington, product manager for the Superior Industries Washing & Classifying Division, is an industry veteran with hands-on experience in every sand-washing method. “The traditional sand screw does its job, but it requires the extra real estate for drying stockpiles,” Bennington says. “Material with up to 25 percent moisture content will need one to two weeks of drying time. Operations need a plan to handle the water runoff from the stockpiles. Plus, the wet sand causes excessive wear and tear to tires and components.”

With the use of the conventional dewatering screen, operations lose up to 15 percent of fines to a waste pond, which requires costly and frequent maintenance, Bennington says.

“The Aggredry fines recovery system saves at least 3 percent of that material for saleable product. At 100 tph, that’s three or more tons per hour, and more than 30 tons – or a truckload of saleable material – during each shift. Producers need to calculate that additional profit and the operating costs per ton into the overall picture as they examine various sand washing methods,” he says.

Like many producers, Wissota Sand & Gravel is facing an ever-increasing demand for washed aggregate. “But we must meet demand while always protecting our valuable water resources,” Larson says. “We dug a deep well back in the 1980s. There were seasons where that well would run continually. Throughout the 2015 season, we could cut well use to a total of only 400 hours. As of the latest season, we cut that water use in half. Ongoing sustainability is the mission.”

Information for this story courtesy of Superior Industries.

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