New electrical isolation pads make SX plants safer

An engineered polymer traditionally used for bearings has reduced fire risks on solvent extraction (SX) plants. The polymer Vesconite has been installed by SAM Engineering on base plates upon which its centrifugal pumps are mounted. The motors are flame proof and they are ATEX certified – a European safety standard for electrical equipment in hazardous environments.

The polymer Vesconite has been installed by SAM Engineering on base plates upon which its centrifugal pumps are mounted
© Vesconite

The polymer Vesconite has been installed by SAM Engineering on base plates upon which its centrifugal pumps are mounted
© Vesconite
Vesconite is thus not required to isolate against stray current coming from the motor as all motors are fitted with earth studs. "Instead, the Vesconite pads isolate the pumps against stray current that travels in the copper solution or other equipment in SX plants,” says Rowen Govender of SAM Engineering’s Technical Sales Department.

Like many polymers, Vesconite is a good insulator. What makes it different to other polymers is that it is dimensionally stable and does not absorb water. Importantly, it handles high static load without deformation, and this is critical for SX pumps, which are heavy. Govender informs that "the 400 kW motor coupled to the SAM pump supplied to SX plants typically weighs 3500 kg, and pumps 2000 to 2500 m3/h to a head of 40 to 45 m." Each pump is mounted on to three Vesconite isolation pads that are located, in turn, on a stainless-steel base.

SX plants are the heart of the copper processing operation. Fire protection is important to prevent loss of life, and to reduce the likelihood of plant fire, which could result in significant equipment replacement costs and considerable costs if the plant is not operational for lengthy periods. SAM Engineering has already achieved considerable success in harsh mining and processing environments. The company manufactures custom pumps made for operation-critical applications.

www.vesconite.com

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