The Panama City Port Authority needed a dust suppression system that wouldn't oversaturate the wood pellet cargo while knocking down large quantities of airborne particles before they can migrate to residential areas or nearby businesses.
Officials report that the equipment has been very efficient, helping to protect ambient air quality and prevent negative effects on workers, as well as local residents and manufacturing operations.
“We maintain an 80,000 sq. foot warehouse used exclusively for storing wood pellets, which are a widely used biomass fuel in Europe,” said John Ramer, Director of Terminal Services. “The facility receives about 30,000 metric tons of pellets each month by rail car, creating stockpiles more than 100 feet wide at the base, with an enormous potential for dust,” he said.
To control the inevitable dust from three front loaders with 10-yard buckets feeding a 600-foot conveyor and then dumping such a huge volume of pellets into a ship’s hold, Ramer knew that he’d need dust suppression equipment designed specifically for that purpose.
"We placed the DustBoss downwind when we began loading a ship.
The cargo is very sensitive to moisture. If the pellets get wet, they tend to crumble, so we had to avoid spraying any water down into the hold.
Once we started working, we aimed the plume of water mist into the dust cloud, and it made an immediate difference."
Josh Mazander of DMS Contracting
FINDING THE RIGHT DUST CONTROL SOLUTIONS
While researching potential dust control solutions, he happened to visit a large grain handler on the Mississippi River and saw a brand new DustBoss® on-site. Although he had looked at dust suppression machines that appeared similar, this design seemed larger, more powerful and ruggedly built.
After some investigation on the Internet, Ramer learned that the dust control machine he’d seen at the grain handler had the kind of range he would need for his own ship loading application. He decided that the next time a vessel came into port, he would rent a DustBoss 60 (DB-60).
“We placed the DustBoss downwind when we began loading a ship,” Ramer said. “This cargo is very sensitive to moisture. If the pellets get wet, they tend to crumble, so we had to avoid spraying any water down into the hold. Once we started working, we aimed the plume of water mist into the dust cloud, and it made an immediate difference.” He estimated that dock workers can load about 1,000 metric tons of material per hour.
As it happened, shortly after taking delivery of the rental dust control machine, the port facility got a visit from the Department of Environmental Protection. The agency representative appeared to be impressed with the dust control methods at the site, and departed without issuing any notices or warnings about dust. Ramer’s crew has rented the equipment several times since, and the results have convinced the Port to purchase a unit.
In addition to its dust suppression efficiency, Port officials cite the versatility and mobility of the unit as added benefits, allowing workers to position the DustBoss wherever it’s needed most on a given day, depending on wind and weather conditions. The broad coverage of the oscillating design allows them to effectively control dust over an area nearly half a football field in size from a single location.
“Under these circumstances, there is no single solution that’s going to completely solve the dust problem,” Ramer said. “But wind screens and other physical barriers just weren’t enough. I think the DEP was pleased to see us making every reasonable effort and using the best of current technology to keep the dust contained.”
While the DustBoss typically pays for itself, Ramer said: “Saving money wasn’t our primary goal in this application. The benefit is less tangible than that. It’s really about protecting health and the environment, and preventing dust from becoming a nuisance for our neighbors. It’s just the right thing to do."
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