In-line Agglomeration – Saving time and manpower in operation

TEC Square developed an In-line Agglomeration process, which combines the operation of Spray Drying and Agglomeration into a single step. Each step is important to obtain the final product characteristics.

Spray Dryer and Agglomeration Layout
  • Spray Drying is one of the most economical methods to create a powder from a liquid. Spray Drying is common in all areas of industry and is normally sufficient as a stand-alone process, depending on the quality of the product.
  • Agglomeration may be necessary as the “finishing” step for the product. Factors such as colour, appearance, solubility, etc. may require such as step. In summary, this process involves a fine, spray-dried powder being fed into the top of a hot chamber (the agglomeration tower), which brings it in contact with steam. Due to the presence of steam, the fine powder particles stick together (the agglomeration process), whereafter the product needs to dry again in a hot environment. This is necessary in order for the product to acquire a specified final moisture.

As a result of the complexity of these processes, Spray Drying and Agglomeration are often set up as completely separate production units. However, the In-line Agglomeration process combines both processes, which evidently eliminates the need for intermediate storage.

In summary, this process reduces operational costs significantly, mainly due to the following facts:

  • There is less product in work, as there is no intermediate storage for tote-bins required
  • As there is no intermediate storage, there is less need for material handling.
  • The simultaneous operation obtains the final product in one single step, adding only one time energy.
  • The process requires significantly less building space.

Furthermore, the particular design of the equipment set-up enables the production of a variety of products with limited time wasted due to change-over. Within a very short period of time the change-over thus is made from a fine powder (by-passing the agglomeration process) to an agglomerated product.

Overall, the entire control system is a TEC Square design, where systems of Spray Drying and Agglomeration are designed by third parties.

The advantages of the In-line Agglomeration

In-line Agglomeration
Stand-alone Solutions

In-line process, which includes the advantage of one control function.
Two separate processes.

Production of either a fine powder or an agglomerate.
Fully flexible, as two separate products can be manufactured simultaneously.

Lower investment, as some equipment is common to both processes, which consequently avoids the acquisition of duplicate equipment.
The acquisition of two separate units increases investment.

The process involves a lower footprint, because the two towers are installed in the same building.
Two separate processes normally have their own respective, separate footprints.

Lower operational costs, as a result of the vast reduction of costs due to personnel, storage equipment, powder handling, energy, etc.
High operational costs due to two separate processes.

Control principle
Either fully automatic or completely manual, which is customer dependent. TEC Square writes all their PLC code from an operational point of view, because all our key engineers have extended professional experience in operational capacity.
Either fully automatic or completely manual, which is customer dependant. PLC code is normally written from a engineering point of view.

Product quality
The fine powder quality depends on the choice of the spray nozzle. As a result of using steam to agglomerate particles, the process delivers a hard product. Also, the production of larger sized agglomerates (average 2-3mm) is possible.
The fine powder quality depends on the choice of the spray nozzle. Most available systems do not use steam to agglomerate particles, which delivers lower quality agglomerates. Overall, fluid-bed spray dryers deliver a very small agglomerate (<1 mm).

Standard Control System Package

TEC Square developed a proven control and automation system for the in-line agglomeration process. Together with the usage of Allen Bradley or Siemens PLC programming software, our In-line Agglomeration system allows for safe, easy and efficient operation. Moreover, the SCADA system features extensive monitoring features and control functions of all process parameters.  This system either functions as a stand alone unit or can be integrated into the existing control system.