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Process engineers at Akzonobel’s coatings facility in Birmingham have chosen agitators from Ekato to reduce energy consumption while increasing the overall throughput and production capacity.

With a goal to cut maintenance costs and meet the needs of increasing volumes, the new agitators have delivered a reduction in energy consumption of more than 60 per cent and batch time by 20 minutes.

The payback on the investment is less than three years with this level of improvement.

The site manufactures water-based coatings used to protect food and beverage contents from the metal can, as well as the metal can from the contents.

The company needed to make cost-effective improvements to lower batch times and reduce the number of breakdowns to reach a threefold increase in volume.

Scott Love, Akzonobel’s engineering manager, said: ‘The existing five-tonne vessel used 75kw per mixing vessel.

‘We also had a higher level of maintenance, due to a build-up of material around the agitator shaft and heating coils, reducing heat-transfer capability, which ultimately increases the process times and requires cleaning every three months,’ he added.

Various solutions, such as adding additional baffles and retrofit impellers, were tried, yet none offered the improvements needed.

Akzonobel approached Ekato, a provider of agitator and mixing technology, to see what technologies were available.

The existing reactor was upgraded with Ekato’s new Viscoprop Impeller and electric motor technology to take advantage of the improved efficiency by using a smaller 15kW motor.

‘This smaller motor still achieves better mixing performance than the previous 75kW unit that Akzonobel was using, with a lower capital investment,’ said William Pocock, Ekato UK’s technical sales engineer.

The introduction of the Ekato impellers on the Birmingham facility reduced the nine-hour batch time by 20 minutes.

One of the reasons for this reduction has been the improved heat transfer, which accelerates the chemical reaction, improves product circulation and reduces solids build-up on the internal heating coils, which minimises the need for a chiller, resulting in further energy savings.

The impellers blend the base elements evenly through the batch, achieving a more consistent product quality and reducing process excursions.

Internal cleaning of the reactor has now become an annual procedure, as opposed to a quarterly or between-batches one, resulting in less downtime on the plant and less waste generated from the cleaning procedure.

Ekato Process Technology

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