Coal Age

APR 2019

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28 April 2019 sampling systems continued 252 "bombards the material flowing through the analyzer with neutrons," Iverson said. "As each individual atom absorbs a neutron, it gets excited, and then it releases a unique gamma ray." Sodium iodide detectors above the belt count the gamma rays at a rate of hundreds of thousands per second. "You can think of it as kind of like a fingerprint," Iverson said. "We can say we have this many counts for calcium, this many counts for iron, or whatever parameters you are looking at. It generates a spectrum every minute." LiNX refers to the electronics, which are built into the top of the unit, simplifying both infrastructure requirements and operational func- tionality, Iverson said. "Traditionally, these analyzers required an associated electronics cabinet with a bunch of analog cables called an umbilical cord," Iverson said. "You have this big messy cabinet full of electronics" In contrast, LiNX electronics are integrated into the analyzer, he said. "You just connect a power cord, a signal cable, either ethernet or fiber optic, and then it communicates over the plant network with a server that is in a control room or lab or anywhere else on site," Iverson said. "You don't need a separate operations panel right at the analyzer. You can just access our software and the analysis data from any web-enabled device that has ac- cess to the site network." To arrive at a measurement for ash, the analyzer measures the amount of the individual elements that make up the ash. "And then we add those together," Iverson said. "The typical output most of our customers have is the ash percent, a sulfur reading, a moisture reading, total moisture, and then also BTU or heating value." The technology is based on a solu- tion developed by the U.S. military in the 1980s. It was commercialized in 1982 for a coal application by a com- pany called Gamma-Metrics, which was later sold to Thermo Fisher, now known as Thermo Fisher Scientific. "The founder of Gamma-Metrics founded SABIA in 2000," Iverson said. "They released what was the first on- belt analyzer, where you didn't need this large support structure and you could just install this directly on the siderails," he said. "That was a huge innovation and it was also the first web-enabled analyzer where all of our software is web browser-based, so you don't need different licenses or different computers, you can just ac- cess it from a web browser." In 2014, the company released LiNX. From there, the company's fo- cus shifted to the software, Iverson said. "Before we were just integrating the other software," he said. "Now we have a full software suite for tracking silos and automatically tagging the layers as they go in different silos, dif- ferent control automation for blend- ing and controlling feeders." "We also came out with what we call carbon-based BTU analysis," he said. The user can now calibrate the system based on what the exact base- line specs were for each different type of coal transported by the conveyor. "That enabled us to calibrate over very wide ranges but still have accu- rate measurements," Iverson said. "That really is beneficial for our cus- tomers who are bringing in different types of coal and want to look at more than one type without having 20 dif- ferent calibrations." The primary benefit is accuracy. "It is about consistency, meeting targets, and forward-thinking analysis verses reactive analysis," Iverson said. "A lot of our customers are at the mine, at the loadouts, and prep plants. They'll try to blend to a specific target when they are loading a barge or a train so they hit their contract exactly." The system is also deployed to coal-fired power plants. "They can blend coal in their stockpiles and then send it to their bunkers and blend it in the bunkers, know the composi- tion of those bunkers, and get a really consistent and accurate feed to their boilers," Iverson said. Adopting the analyzer typically means entering a partnership. "We provide the customer service to make these things work for a specific pro- cess, and dial them in to specifically what they are going to see," Iverson said. "With our software, we put in dif- ferent blends and different mixes so you can just, at the click of a button, all of the sudden, have a different blend." For installation, SABIA deploys a field engineer to the site to oversee installation and calibration. "As far as neutron sources are concerned, we help customers all around the world get these licenses and permits in place so they can actually own these sources," Iverson said. "Part of our service also includes doing radiation surveys around the analyzer provid- ing all the documentation needed to give to the Nuclear Regulatory Com- mission. Additionally, we perform all the leak tests and other regulatory in- formation so the customer has every- thing up to date." The miner is required to provide a belt scale signal. "We can take that dig- itally, through their PLC, or just have a direct analog input," Iverson said. "They also need some type of sam- pling, the results of which are used for dynamic calibration. We are initially setting up the analyzer and the cus- tomer can also do periodic checks." The X1-LiNX is made in the USA, which, Iverson said, means a quality product at a reduced cost compared to imported solutions. For a state- side customer, "there are no duties or taxes," he said. "We can get it to their door a lot less expensively." Transcending Markets Switzerland's SpectraFlow Analytics Ltd. reported Barrick Gold's Gold- strike mine uses the company's online near-infrared (NIR) over-the-belt an- alyzer to scan pre-roasted ore for the

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