Design of Scalloped- Bottom Thickener Tanks

Buzek, John R. ; Epstein, Howard I.
Organization: The American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1979
Thickeners are simply large tanks, usually circular in shape, which are designed to allow settling of solids and to operate with continuous overflow of clear water and underflow of thick pulp. The dimensions of the thickener are usually such that dewatering of very fine pulps may be accomplished while still overflowing clear water. Some thickeners such as the Center, Hardinge and Hydrotator types combine thickening with filtering2 while others such as the Dorr type are pure thickeners. l .2 , 3 A schematic diagram of the traction type Dorr thickener is shown in [Fig 1]. This type is appropriate for tanks over 15 m (50 ft) in diameter. This tank employs a rotating raking mechanism which moves the settled material toward the central discharge. For this and other thickeners, it is common to have a shallow conical tank bottom in order to conform to the geometry of the raking mechanism, and it is often desirable to elevate the tank for ease of access to the product. When the tank does not rest on the ground, the forces resisted by the cone are large, and thick plates must be employed. The fabrication of these tanks requires temporary supports in order to erect the cone. A flat-bottomed tank could also be used because the settled material would soon form a hardened conical surface. However, because of the presence of large bending forces, even larger plate thicknesses are required than for the conical bottom. Significant cost savings often can be realized by the use of a scalloped-bottomed tank such as the one partially shown in [Fig. 2]. The particular scalloped bottom discussed in this paper employs radial beams forming the outline of the cone-shaped bottom. These beams are supported directly by columns. Cone segments are hung between adjacent beams. The exact geometry of these segments depends upon the cone angle and radius, the number of radial beams, and their inclination. The geometry is chosen to satisfy certain clearance restraints and to utilize the material as efficiently as possible. The resulting thickness of these segments is significantly less than that of the equivalent plate for the tank with a conical bottom. This result, along with the simpler fabrication procedures required, accounts for the cost savings associated with this design. The raking mechanism employed may be the same as for the conventional conical bottom since the settled material soon forms a conical surface. Determination of the internal force mechanism for the scalloped bottom leads to designs that utilized material efficiently and thus maximize the cost savings. The complicated geometry of these bottoms along with the difficulty in analyzing the structure are factors which may have limited the use of scalloped-bottomed tanks to date. When such tanks have been built, the uncertainties associated with the internal forces have led to designs that are somewhat inefficient. In this paper, equations relating the geometric parameters are presented along with simplified closed-form solutions for the internal forces in the cone segments, from which the loads applied to the beams and the loads carried to the cylindrical tank shell can be deduced. An example is presented to show the magnitude of the savings which may be realized with this configuration.
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