FRP Products in Coal Mining Applications
Despite a gradual global pivot away from conventional fossil fuels towards more sustainable alternatives, coal remains one of the most widely-consumed natural resources on earth. An estimated 1.1 trillion tons of recoverable coal reserves are dispersed worldwide – though these are largely concentrated in North America, Russia, China, and India. Extracting and producing the mineral requires extremely intensive mechanics and robust power generation facilities, which need significant ongoing maintenance to continuously meet high demands.
In this blog post, Strongwell will explore how fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) products can be used to support coal mining applications.
FRP: Essential Components in Coal Mining
The USA is one of the world’s largest producers, exporters, and consumers of coal. In 2017 alone, the US consumed as much as 717.2 million short tons (MMst) of the mineral. This is expected to drop in the coming years, but the domestic demand for reliable energy will continue to put a strain on electric power plants and mining facilities.
One of the primary pieces of infrastructure in a coal-powered electricity generation plant is the boiler feed. Typically, a conveyor continuously feeds extracted coal into boilers which generate steam to drive mechanical turbines thus generating electricity. This fairly simple mechanism is comprised of numerous moving parts that are subject to abrasion and corrosion, which can significantly impact throughput and uptime. Stainless steels and hard-wearing carbon steels are primarily used to construct these conveyor systems, but FRP is rapidly proving itself a suitable alternative.
FRP materials have been successfully used to replace the existing metal drip pans in boiler feeds, which are components designed to collect the small particles of coal dust that fall off the conveyor. The gradual build-up of this material can cause structural fatigue and, in extreme cases, spontaneous combustion. To prevent this, personnel must shovel the collected material free of the drip pan and clean it with a high-pressure wash. This causes additional abrasion and corrosion which can be problematic for conventional steel products.
Strongwell developed U-shaped drip pans for the American Electric Power (AEP) of Columbus, Ohio, replacing 1,700 lineal feet of stainless steel and coated carbon steel plates. This new system was engineered from EXTREN® structural shapes which are comprised of reinforced, fire-retardant FRP. These plates were inherently resistant to the acidic conditions of the conveyor and provided superior resistance to friction from shovelling and high-pressure washing. These properties are superior to the resistances of structural steels, with additional benefits with regards to pricing and weight savings.
FRP Products from Strongwell
Strongwell is one of the world’s leading suppliers of FRP products for industrial applications, with numerous success stories of providing unique material solutions for coal-mining facilities. We have provided FRP operating platforms, drip pans, walkways, and more for coal mines and energy generation plants.World Coal & EIA]