by Ken Rohr, Applied Industrial Technologies
Published January 2006, Rock Products magazine
For operators producing year-round, winter can have chilling effects on the bottom line. Ice buildup on outdoor conveying equipment and work areas can halt or slow production. And keeping things running smoothly is a constant effort until spring. However, operations can protect against ice forming on conveying systems and related parts.
Glycol-based liquid deicers are designed for all outdoor conveying equipment including belts, rollers, pulleys, idlers, chutes and hoppers. They also can be used for treating sidewalks, catwalks, roofs, track switches and gates. When applied to an ice-free surface, a deicer works from the bottom up and prevents that surface from refreezing. Applied proactively, the deicer will prevent ice buildup altogether. Glycol-based deicers typically will not damage belts, metal, rubber, wood, concrete or asphalt.
Specially blended deicers contain chemical penetrants for low-temperature applications. The residual activity of a glycol-based deicer forms a barrier that prevents ice from reforming for up to 24 hours. Some antifreeze products last only a few hours. And the deicer remains effective and applicable in temperatures as low as -50® F; some antifreeze products begin to gel and fail at single-digit temperatures.
Applying the product at the end of the workday can speed startup the following morning. The deicer only needs to be applied once a day to help prevent damage from ice that can form overnight.
For long conveying lines that stretch several miles, an auto-sprayer system can be installed for a few thousand dollars. This type of system can be activated by timer or temperature and disperses the deicer along the length of the system. Automation controls the amount of product being used, and manual labor is held to a minimum.
Deicers also work as a side release agent. When ice builds up on the beds or sides of trucks, chutes or rail cars, transported material can become trapped. And trapped material is wasted product. Apply deicer to the sidewalls and beds prior to loading the material. This will create an ice-free surface that transports material without waste.
Glycol-based deicers typically will not damage quarry machinery such as belts, metal and rubber. However, before specifying any deicer, it is important to do some homework. Make sure your belt manufacturer states that the belts it provides are not affected by the use of a deicer. In addition, because a portion of the deicer will end up on the ground, check to make sure it is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Used properly, deicers can hold at bay one of winter's menacing side-effects.