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Top Design Challenges in Pneumatic Conveying Systems

The Most Common Issues Encountered When Installing Pneumatic Systems

As you’re probably already aware, pneumatic conveying is the process of using compressed air or gas to transfer bulk materials such as powder, pellets, or other granular material from one point to the next. Essentially, pneumatic conveying is material handling that’s powered by air and conveyed through a tube or pipe. Some of the most common types of materials this process is used for include sugar, flour, sand, and pelletized plastics. Most dry bulk commodities can be pneumatically conveyed. Kice Industries supplies dilute phase conveying systems. It’s a go-to method for several industries that need to move products along because the airlocks, diverter valves, and air separators allow for customization and overall control of the pneumatic conveying system.

Additionally, with custom fabrication, this equipment can be built to work with your pre-existing equipment, thereby saving you time and money on the overall build-out. However, even with the ease of routing products and adaptability that pneumatic conveying affords, there still remain challenges to overcome when designing and building out these systems. Here are some of the most common ones.

Low Pick-up Velocity

The pressure gradient exists across the entire system; however, it’s not always consistent. The air velocity in one section may be much faster or slower compared to another section. If you don’t account for that, this may lead to issues such as plugging or the product not having enough pick-up velocity to become fluidized. That can result in your overall operation slowing down to a grinding halt. To avoid this, always make sure that all points of your pneumatic conveying system have enough pick-up velocity to keep your product moving along in a fluidized state. This is something Kice Industries allows for when calculating systems.

Miscalculating the Pressure Drop

There are lots of variables to consider throughout a pneumatic conveying system, all of which can influence the system’s pressure drop. The biggest contributors to system pressure drop are the diameter of the tube, conveying rate, and conveying distance. As you can imagine, all these variables can make accurately calculating the pressure drop a challenge.

Poor Tubing Design

A pneumatic conveying system with a poor piping design is doomed to fail. Common mistakes include elbows directly on in-feed points, conveying at a 45-degree angle, and back-to-back 90-degree elbows. Remember, the end goal is for the product to move within the system in a fluidized state.

Not Using Anti-Corrosive Materials

If you’re conveying materials that are corrosive or acidic, then that means it’s going to cause damage to anything that it comes into contact with. That is, of course, unless your system uses anti-corrosive stainless steel, which ensures materials it’s conveying will not corrode your system.

Incorrect Air Flow Diversion

It’s critical that airflow is being diverted correctly, especially within a system that has multiple destinations and/or pick-up points. Remember, airflow within a pneumatic conveying system is designed to pick up from one point and deliver to another point. To ensure that each path in multiple pick-up points or destination systems is appropriately isolated, the usage of airtight diverter valves is necessary.

Lack of Environmental Discharge Planning

Unless the pneumatic conveying system is designed on a closed-loop, there is a likely chance there is some form of environmental discharge at some point – perhaps multiple points – down the line. The best way to handle this is by having a facility environmental coordinator check the state and local compliance laws to ensure that your system adheres to the rules. It’s possible you may have to amend your current permit or apply for an entirely new one.

Contact Kice Industries for Your Pneumatic Conveying System Design and Construction

Many things can go wrong when designing a pneumatic conveying system. That’s why it’s critical to hire a company that has lots of experience designing conveying systems for several different types of products and applications. There is also the issue of industrial dust collection and dust control to consider.

Fortunately, Kice Industries has decades of experience working with several companies across the nation designing and building pneumatic conveying systems. We have encountered nearly every type of problem that can arise with a pneumatic conveying system, learned from it, and applied our knowledge to future designs.

To inquire about designing and constructing your pneumatic conveying system, reach out to Kice Industries by calling (316) 744-7151 or email us directly at

KICE, Industries