MechChem Africa

MechChem Africa’s Glynnis Koch speaks to Ian Fraser, managing director of RTS Africa Engineering (RTS Africa) at the recent Electra Mining show held at Nasrec, Johannesburg. This year, the company showcased its inertial spin filter solution, designed for use in the challenging conditions of the mining sector throughout Africa.

RTS spin filter dust controlRTS Africa began marketing spin filters shortly after it was founded in 1989. The technology was not new as it had been around for several decades prior to this in the USA where applications tended to be confined to large air conditioning intake systems. Fraser tells MechChem Africa that it took a couple of years for RTS Africa to sell the first spin filter as applications had to be found for it that were relevant in the pan-African environment. The company developed the current design, which is particularly well engineered and offers an inertial spin filtration system with a low life-cycle cost and zero maintenance.

What is attractive about the spin filter is the simplicity of the concept. A spin filter consists of a cyclone-shaped tube, through which air is propelled or drawn. On entering the tube, the air is induced to spin using vanes. Particles in the tube move to the outside of the vortex, and the clean air in the vortex centre exits through a central orifice at the end of the tube. A secondary stream of air is used to evacuate the dust-laden air back to where it came from. On mines, where the dust might contain value in the form of mineral fines, the dust being purged from spin filters can be recovered for beneficiation.

Although the initial take-up was slow because the concepts of sustainability, energy saving and zero maintenance – unlike today – were not considered important in the early 1990s in South Africa. Once the news of the effectiveness of spin filters spread and their usefulness was not seen to be only that of putting clean air into spaces or compressor inlets, their popularity grew, with the result that RTS Africa has been installing increasing numbers of them, particularly in the past decade. They have been installed in the glass industry, mines, power stations, cement factories and steel mills.

It is a fact, Fraser says, that his company’s spin filter was, and still is, a flagship solution for RTS Africa as it is so well suited to mines and other dusty environments in Africa. From small to huge, installations have increased exponentially since the 1990s and the truth is that there is no ultimate size limit!

Spin filters require very minimal (almost zero) maintenance, as the fans that drive the air through the filter are essentially electric motors, giving years of trouble-free operation with no maintenance at all. Fraser explains: “We have cases in which spin filters give trouble-free service – with very little maintenance – for periods of up to 20 years or more.”

An important application of spin filters has been their use in filtering intake air into compressor rooms. While fitted with their own air filters, all too often, maintenance of compressor filters is neglected. This can lead to complete air compressor failure with wider consequences as the compressed air is often a critical component of a production process. By removing the larger dust particles from intake air, spin filters shield compressor air filters and prevent premature clogging. Read more…

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