What to Look For When Selecting Your First Air Cannon for Your Plant

An air cannon may be attached to the side of a bin, silo, or railcar in order to keep solid materials flowing easily. Materials may get stuck to each other so that they form a bridge across the length of a bin or silo, or may otherwise slow down the flow of the product. An air cannon can blast these materials with a shot of pressurized air so they separate and begin flowing again. If you've never selected an air cannon for your plant or facility, note a few features to consider before buying.

1. Valve assembly

The valve of an air cannon may need regular cleaning and maintenance as dust and dirt may tend to settle in this area. If you need to disassemble a lot of small pieces in order to clean the valve, this can increase the risk of not being able to put it back together again. Choose a valve that is just one piece or just a few large pieces that are easy to disassemble, easy to clean, and easy to put back together. This will keep you from having to actually replace the valve once it becomes dirty or having to call a specialist just to clean it.

2. Volume of air blasted

The heavier the material in your bin or railcar, the larger the volume of air you want from your air cannon. Very heavy items like raw coal, stone chips, pebbles, and the like will usually require about 300 pounds per square inch or PSI, or even higher. However, this can be too much air and too much pressure for grain, cereals, and the like. For lighter items like this, you would choose something in the range of 100 PSI, and it can be good to have an air cannon with an adjustable PSI so you can determine the amount of air needed for different types of blockage.

3. Dispersal of air

While certain materials may tend to get blocked in one particular way, for example, heavier materials may tend to clog the dispenser while other materials may tend to stick to walls, many materials will get blocked in a variety of ways. Bridges might be formed at the top of the flow and a dispenser might get clogged, or a "rat hole" might also form down the middle of the flow. For this reason it's good to get an air cannon with an adjustable dispersal of air. This means you can narrow the nozzle for a direct blast and then open it up for a wider spray, just as you would with a garden hose. This makes it more versatile for various types of blockage.

For more information, contact companies like ESS Engineering.