Pneumatic Capsule Pipelines

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What is a Pneumatic Capsule Pipeline?


It is a Dry Freight Pipeline.

A capsule carrying a product is propelled through a pipeline using low pressure air. These pipelines can transport large quantities for long distances both horizontally and vertically at a very low operating cost and competitive capital cost.

Covered wheeled trucks or capsules are automatically loaded with ore, concentrate, coal, aggregate, then propelled through a pipeline to be automatically unloaded at the receiving end.

Capsules are coupled together in trains, multiple trains run within the pipeline simultaneously so that the transport system is continuous.

Multiple products can be transported in the same and opposite directions simultaneously without mixing, for the same very low operating cost.

Where Can Pneutrans Apply This Technology?

These Pneumatic Capsule Pipelines are used to transport large quantities of product for long distances.

Typical applications would include transporting:

  1. Ore, coal, aggregate from a mine to its mill. Returning tailings to the mine for backfill is practical, and low cost.
  2. Concentrates from the mill to a rail or ship load out or directly to the customer/user.Two or more products can be transported simultaneously without mixing.
  3. Ore or coal can be transported from the working face in a mine, to the shaft, up the shaft to the surface and on to the mill without the product being transferred out of the capsule. There is a significant reduction in material handling and its cost. There is a reduction in the need for skip hoist costs. This system helps ventilate the mine by removing stale, humid, warm air when the system is hoisting.
  4. Use where environmental issues prevent all other considerations, for example, use where the terrain or climate makes other transportation considerations difficult, impractical or expensive.

What Are The Parameters/Capabilities of a Pneumatic Capsule Pipeline?

Pneumatic Capsule Pipelines must be designed by Pneutrans Systems Limited in order to determine their parameters and economics. User chosen parameters are usually not practical or economical.

1. Horizontal Distances

  • This includes inclines and declines.
  • These systems are most practical from 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) in length to 10's of kilometers/miles in length.
    Theoretically, there is no limit to the length of these pipelines.

2. Vertical Distances

  • This includes steep inclines.
  • Very practical, can be made to travel at the speed of a skip hoist or faster. Distances are not a problem.

3. Annual System Throughput

  • Can range from 100,000 tonnes /tons per year to 12,000,000 tonnes/tons per year. The most practical range is 500,000 tonnes/tons to 5,000,000 tonnes/tons.

4. Capsule Speed

  • 8 to 12 meters (25 to 40 feet per second). Can be made faster when the need arises.

5. Capsule Payload

  • Tonnes/tons depending on pipeline diameter. Capsules can be connected in series to form trains. Many trains are in transit simultaneously.

6. Pipeline Diameter

  • Anywhere from 406 mm (16 inches) to 1524 mm (60 inches). This is determined by the annual throughput, time available to transport and the geographical conditions.

7. Pipeline Bend Radius

  • Usually 50 times diameter minimum. It is important to keep the pipeline as straight as possible.

8. There are two basic type of systems:

  • Twin Line Systems: The loaded line runs from 'A' to 'B' with a separate return line running from 'B' to 'A'. These are used for extremely heavy-duty applications. Although they may be practical for some applications, they are almost twice the capital and operating cost of Single Line Reversing System.
  • Single Line Reversing System: One pipe connects 'A' to 'B'. Capsules are shuttled back and forth by a reversing airflow. These are used for most applications. Their capital and operating cost is slightly more then half a Twin Line system.

9. Point-to-point pipelines

  • Typically, systems are installed as point-to-point pipelines. Switching for multiple entrances and exits is possible, practical and economical.

10. Loading and unloading of trains

  • This is accomplished by known mining technology.

11. Easily adapted to Mine Rescue Requirements (Pipeline Inside Diameter Permitting)

  • Increased Ventilation Air in and out of the mine.
  • Transporting of Rescue Crews, Trapped Personnel and Equipment in and out of the mine.

12. Safety - Everything takes place in a pipe

  • People are not exposed to the dangers of transportation equipment/systems.

13. Environmentally friendly

  • All air entering and exiting the system is filtered to remove all dust. Also, no flow off or loss of product due to windage (normally 1 to 10 percent).

13. Quiet

  • Capsules run on pneumatic tires.  Very little noise or vibration will be noticed from the pipeline itself.