Often the simplest solutions are the best, and the extensive use of inertial spin filters across many industries is a good example. Using a vortex to remove 98% of all dust particles down to 15 microns and 93% of particulate matter above 10 microns, inertial spin filters are suitable for filtering air in MCC rooms, transformer rooms and control rooms. For particles above 5 microns, a spin filter will remove 80% of all airborne particles.


RTS Africa Managing Director Ian Fraser says that spin filters are invaluable for use in the mining industry, where at every stage of the process - blasting, loading, material handling and processing - dust is created. “The type of dust that one encounters in mines is usually from newly broken rock. Compared to dust that one might encounter in domestic or urban environments, if looked at under a microscope, mine dust particles are more jagged or irregular, and thus far more abrasive,” he says.

Spin filters in mines have been used as primary protection for compressors in compressor rooms. While compressors have their own on-board filters, in a mine environment with high levels of dust, these filters can become clogged fairly rapidly.

“Should dust permeate into a compressor's workings, it will combine with the oil to form a highly efficient grinding paste which will ruin the compressor fairly quickly. Should this happen, the cost of compressor downtime – which could bring a mine to a halt – would be prohibitive,” Fraser says.

With mines now employing high-end electronics to control equipment and systems on the surface as well as underground, air filtration has never been more important, he adds. Metalliferous dust is particularly harmful to sensitive IT-controlled systems and electronic controllers on large mining machinery. “While many of these systems might have their own secondary filtration units, the installation of an RTS Africa spin filter will prevent equipment filters from being rapidly clogged up by the coarser airborne particles present,” Fraser says.

A key application that has emerged for spin filters is in the protection of variable speed drives using back channel cooling. This is the application of the large spin filter recently installed by RTS Africa at a major platinum mine near Rustenburg. The spin filter feeds filtered air at 64,000 m³ an hour into the mine’s variable speed drive system. The mine's engineers specified that the intake air to the variable speed drives must be filtered down to 1 micron, which is a particularly high standard of purity.

“A further factor on this particular mine is that, in the immediate environment, there are significant amounts of SO2 gas present, which is highly corrosive. RTS spin filters are made of high density polypropylene which is not affected by SO2. However, to prevent the ingress of this gas into the variable speed drive rooms, we will be fitting SO2 absorbing modules to our spin filters. These modules are packed with material which absorbs SO2 very effectively,” Fraser explains.

Mines have also begun using spin filters to protect large open-cast mining equipment such as drag lines and blast-hole drill rigs. A spin filter installed on this equipment is able to create a positive pressure inside the operator cabs, keeping dust out of the electrical control equipment, thereby extending equipment life and preventing expensive downtime.

“The mining industry is increasingly turning to the use of spin filters as a cost-effective dust extraction solution. The mines like the fact that they are easy to install, their maintenance is minimal, they are highly efficient and provide consistent, lengthy and trouble-free service. With mines facing increased cost pressures, the scourge of load-shedding and national power grid inconsistencies – as well as contending with ever more stringent environmental legislation - spin filters present a highly viable option to contain expenditure and increase  profitability,” Fraser concludes.


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