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How Long Should a Centrifuge Last?


Allied millwright Alex takes his first look at the wear on a Tomoe decanter centrifuge that arrived at the Allied Centrifuge Technologies Service Facility

How long should a centrifuge last? Well, there really is no expiry date or life expectancy for separation equipment. Industrial centrifuges are used in a multitude of industries and applications, and a lot of the machines in operation today have been in service for decades. Performing preventative maintenance paired with high quality rebuild services can greatly extend the life expectancy of your rotating equipment. One of Allied’s clients has been running decanter centrifuges in their bitumen processing for over 50 years and they are still running strong. There are however a few factors that should be considered when estimating a life expectancy of your decanter centrifuge.


Environments & processes

A common variable that can result in a change of equipment is process or capacity changes. As capacities increase in any operation, the volume and output expected will increase. Every centrifuge will have a maximum design capacity where the best separation efficiency is achieved, the only way to increase that is by adding more machines or upgrading to larger equipment. It has been common to see an increase in premature wear or loss of separation efficiency in machines due to operators overloading the machine past designed capabilities. Finding the correct running process is ideal for every machine and will not just improve the efficiency of the process but also improve the safety of the operations.


New Technology

New technology may be able to run more efficiently, have lower cost in-terms of energy consumption or reduce maintenance costs and down time. This might be a consideration for operations that are looking to invest in equipment that will reduce future costs. The replacement of existing centrifuges with better designed centrifuges or even the addition of a new process or technology to lessen the work load or improve efficiency of the equipment.


The Fight against corrosion and erosion

One factor that can affects the lifespan of a centrifuge is corrosion. This is the biggest concern for any organization when trying to determine the longevity or servicing of separation equipment. Also under consideration is the industry and the application that the centrifuge is being used for. The corrosiveness of the slurry that is being processed will determine the materials required in the manufacturing of the centrifuge.

In industries such as oil and gas and mining, where the slurries being processed are much more abrasive but not necessarily corrosive, high wear resistant alloys need to be deployed in certain areas to combat abrasion but the overall base metal of the unit can be made from lower grade material such as carbon steel or 300 series stainless steels. In other industries such as chemical processing or wastewater where the slurries being processed may be high in chlorides a higher quality build material like Duplex or Hastelloy would be required. Excessive corrosion and erosion can be protected with the use of specialty wear products such as ceramic, tungsten and silicon carbides, hard surface welding, HVOF or wear polymers. These components can typically be changed out at any time to help increase the operating interval between rebuilds. In spite of these precautions in certain applications there is still always corrosion that will happen to main components resulting in the need for repair or replacement.


Maintenance

Preventative maintenance is #1 key to making sure that you get the most out of your separation equipment. A scheduled preventative maintenance program can be the difference in thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in rebuild costs and downtime. Monitoring the wear of critical areas, Analysis of bearings and regular lubrication intervals will prevent catastrophic failures. The safe operation of rotating equipment is critical and should be a priority for any operation. Following these simple guidelines can ensure reliability and longevity of any rotating equipment.

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Allied CentrifugeTechnologies 

7575-51 ST STREET S.E.

CALGARY, ALBERTA T2C 4A6

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