Polyplast breaks new ground in the mining sector
A leader in polyurethane parts manufacturing in Quebec, Polyplast’s mission is to constantly innovate in order to offer its clients new and better solutions. To further push the technological limits in the industrial sector, we are now working on the development of improved ball mill seals, or gaskets.
What is a ball mill?
Ball mills are used to crush ore, and as such they are a key tool in mineral extraction. Since the rotation of the ball mill causes a great deal of friction, gaskets often need to be replaced. The replacement process often interrupts extraction operations for six hours or more. Our new gasket will have a superior sealing power, making it more efficient than the versions currently available on the market. After several months of satisfactory testing, we’re optimistic about the possibility of a market launch in the near future. We believe that this innovation will help to optimize the use of extraction machinery and maximize production at drilling sites.
From the field to our labs
At Polyplast, listening to our clients is more than just a promise—it’s a reality. The idea of improving the current ball mill gasket recipe came from field experience. Mines generally face the same problem: seals inevitably start to leak after accumulated use of milling equipment. We decided to tackle the problem head-on. In the laboratory, we collected a number of polyurethane samples and mixed them with additives. Then we validated them on a reduced-scale test bench that reproduces the forces on a real mill. The goal was to estimate the life span of the samples under real friction conditions.
A new gasket: now what?
After successfully conducting a number of friction-reduction tests, the next challenge our designer, Fulbert-Boris Nganassi, faces is heat propagation. Heat caused by friction quickly accumulates at contact points inside the machine and must be dissipated. The team in charge of this mission already believes it is possible to evacuate the heat from the friction zone and eject it to ensure a constant cooling of the parts. An additional benefit is that this may reduce the amount of lubrication required during friction. Polyplast’s advancement in this research opens the door to a multitude of other projects in the near future.
We’re proud of our teams’ progress and look forward to testing our final product with our industry partners. We have already identified a potential partner to test our new seal on their own equipment. More tests will be conducted during the next few months, and our aim is to start commercializing our product in early 2023. Stay tuned for more news on this exciting subject!
Source: François Boisclair