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Vivergo Fuels will use Ekato side agitators to aid fermentation at its 27-acre biorefinery plant.

The side-entry agitators will be used for the continuous suspension of solids and homogenisation of tank contents.

They are said to offer an efficient and reliable mixing solution, together with considerable savings compared with traditional top-entry agitator technology.

Installing multiple side-entry mixers is said to be more straightforward than installing top-entry agitators and does not require additional equipment such as internal baffles, thereby reducing the cost per vessel.

Side-entry agitators operate successfully by producing fluid flow and therefore tank-contents turnover.

Ekato’s impeller technology is designed for fluid displacement.

Ekato can use research and development methods to provide a full-scale projection of how its technology works.

The agitator can be placed in the exact position and orientation required to achieve suspension or gassing applications.

A side-entry agitator system reduces investment costs for bio refineries, as it can be easily installed without the need for heavy-duty mobile-lifting equipment.

As a design option, a shut-off device allows the mechanical seal to be serviced or removed while the vessel is full of product, reducing maintenance costs and servicing time.

In addition, side-entry agitators enhance process efficiency and allow the user greater control over the mixing process, avoiding deposits of solids in the tank.

For Vivergo’s fermenters, Ekato’s design engineers followed a research-and-development process, building a pilot model fermenter with scale agitators and vessel internals, including filling and drain points to confirm agitator design to achieve the required degree of particle suspension.

Following this, the team simulated flow velocities and solids concentration distribution of the pilot set-up, using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling as the validation method.

Using pilot-modelling and CFD techniques, Ekato defined the optimum agitator quantity, position and shaft angle to the vessel wall to suit the geometry of each vessel.

Finally, the mixing requirements for the full-scale plant were calculated, using the company’s research and development findings.

With a further CFD study of the plant scale, Ekato can accurately predict and guarantee the results for Vivergo Fuels’ fermenters.

John Smith, managing director of Ekato, said: ‘Each agitator is designed on the basis of the mixing task in hand: for blending, the viscosity ratio is the determining factor, together with the settling behaviour of the grains, which is influenced by fluid density, grain size, moisture content and settling velocity.’

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