Martin Engineering aircansA world leader in bulk material handling technology has announced a dual solution to material flow problems, combining acoustic cleaning technology with industry-proven air cannon designs. Martin Engineering is using the technologies to help maintain system efficiency and profitability in cement producing operations, power generation plants, pulp and paper manufacturing, and other industries that employ boilers. The company is believed to be the only supplier capable of delivering the combined solution of sonic horns and air cannons to dislodge build-ups and enhance material flow.

"We’ve chosen to supply both of these cleaning technologies, because of the wide range of conditions and processes in which they might be used," explained global business development manager Jeff Shelton. "Sonic horns can clean a larger area than air cannons when we’re dealing with accumulations of dry material, but high sulfur and chloride content often lead to a sticky build-up that resists acoustic cleaning. In those areas, air cannons deliver the kind of burst cleaning that can dislodge blockages and send the accumulated material back into the process stream."

In the past, some operations have adopted expensive blowers as a cleaning option, with qualified success. Steam blowers have been effective in some applications, but the process tends to be destructive. It can damage boiler tubes and typically carries high costs for operation and maintenance.

"The combined solution provides a wide range of options to match specific process conditions and operating environments," said Shelton. "Sonic horns are well suited to selective catalytic reduction (SCR) units and process vessels, and in applications in which the bulk material is fairly dry. But in a situation where cleaning is needed in tight spaces or with moist materials, air cannons can be the better choice.

"In some processes, both technologies are used in strategic locations to prevent blockages and maintain the process flow. We’re using the dual technologies in SCRs, with potential applications in silos, boilers and ductwork."

He also explained that sonic horns require gas flow or gravity to move loosened material, while air cannons will physically blast the material away. "In many ductwork applications, poor flow is a contributor to the blockage problems, and in those cases, the combined technologies offer an effective solution."

Martin Engineering has been an innovator of air cannon technology since the 1970s, and today offers a full line of field-proven traditional designs, as well as breakthrough engineering in valve design, hybrid models, multiple-port and multiple-valve technologies. The company offers both positive- and negative-pressure firing valve designs to accommodate a broad range of applications and materials.

The cannons deliver a powerful blast to dislodge accumulated material and prevent blockages, and the only component that needs to be inside the vessel is the nozzle. Air cannons also offer a variety of nozzle shapes and styles to suit specific conditions.

Martin® sonic horns work by producing a low-frequency, high-pressure sound wave, which is created when compressed air flexes a titanium diaphragm in the sound generator. This sound wave is then magnified as it is emitted through the bell. The sound pressure causes dry particulate deposits to resonate and become fluidized, allowing them to be removed by constant gas flow or gravity. Especially effective around pipes and behind obstacles, sonic energy de-bonds particulates with a 360° sweep, cleaning inaccessible components. Sonic horns have a long history of performance in boilers, heat exchangers, economizers, bag houses, SCRs, ID fans, electrostatic precipitators (ESP), silos, hoppers, cyclones and air pre-heaters.

Both technologies contribute to lower operating costs and improved safety, helping facilities avoid the need for personnel to access the process and manually clean out accumulation. Reducing the need for high-pressure washing or air lancing also helps avoid unnecessary wear and tear on refractory walls and process vessels. By preventing material build-up, the systems helps reduce downtime, equipment wear and maintenance time. Backed by the company’s exclusive three-year guarantee, air cannons and sonic horns are available in all regions in which Martin Engineering does business, and can be custom-engineered to suit specific operating conditions.