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Graphene Nanotubes Extend Service Life of Grain Elevators and Reduce Losses

Published on 2020-06-03. Edited By : SpecialChem

TAGS:  Polymer Reinforcement    

Grain pipes lined nanotube based PU A new, effective solution to minimize cereal losses during transportation and storage at grain elevators is found with the help of nanotechnology. Grain pipes lined with graphene nanotube material is not only cheaper, but also safer, than comparable products, and it has already proven its ability to reduce grain losses and extend the service life of elevators.

PU Lining Enhanced with Graphene Nanotubes

Recent developments in the application of nanotechnology have opened the door for a new solution – an antistatic polyurethane lining enhanced with graphene nanotubes for grain pipes and other system elements for the cleaning, drying, storage and processing of grain. Polyurethane is an abrasion-resistant material that can significantly extend the life of pipes.

The nanotube-enhanced lining is applied as a layer 3–10 mm thick onto the inner surface of the pipe by hot casting, which provides strong adhesion and a stable level of resistivity of 10^5 Ω∙cm.

Due to the electrical conductivity of the material, there is no static electricity accumulation during grain transportation over the entire length of pipe, which prevents the grains from adhering to the pipe and reduces dust formation, eliminating the risk of spark generation and fire. Such lining protects grain from damage and as a result improves its quality.

Conventional Solution

Up till now, the solution has been lining the pipes with polyethylene attached to the metal with rivets. However, this significantly increases not only the cost of the pipe, but also its weight, which complicates installation and necessitates the use of specialized equipment and personnel. In addition, at the time of transportation, accumulation of static electricity occurs, which regularly causes blockages and can lead to ignition of grain dust.

OCSiAl’s TUBALL Graphene Nanotubes

The lining of pipes with wear-resistant polyurethane enhanced with TUBALL graphene nanotubes, produced by OCSiAl, significantly increases the service life of the grain pipeline: the coating loss by weight is 0.05% after 100,000 tons of grain passing, which allows these pipes to be used effectively for several seasons without replacement. Moreover, their cost is 20–30% lower than similar pipes with polyethylene lining.

This innovative solution was developed and implemented by Unikom Service, a manufacturer of polyurethane products. In June 2019, prototypes of lined pipe were installed at one of the elevators in grain transportation areas. During the season, 180,000 tons of grain passed through the pipes, including rapeseed, wheat, barley, and soy. Inspection of the prototype after six months showed good results: no tearing or abrasive damage were found.

The economic benefits of using graphene nanotubes to protect against the accumulation of static electricity is achieved due to the extremely low concentration in the final material – 0.04% of nanotubes in total weight of polyurethane compound. Thus, according to experts, graphene nanotube-enhanced polyurethane pipe lining has good prospects for application in any climatic conditions in different regions of the world.

Source: OCSiAl
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