What’s the big mystery in a pile of pellets, powder, or granules? Apparently, companies such as ExxonMobil, Dow, DuPont, Cargill, Procter & Gamble, and Archer Daniels Midland think there’s a lot more to know about how bulk solids behave in conveying, storage, and blending. That’s why they have committed to engage research projects with Kansas State University at its new Bulk Solids Innovation Center (BSIC).
July 10 saw the official groundbreaking in Salina, Kan., for the 13,000-ft2 building, which is expected to open next April. It will include office space for researchers and five flexible bulk-solids laboratories for collaborative and proprietary research by the building’s tenants and industry sponsors. Anchor tenants include Coperion K-Tron, Sewell, N.J., and Vortex Valves, Salina.
The largest space in the building is a 30-ft-tall open bay for testing of bulk-solids behavior in full-scale systems for vacuum and pressure dilute-phase and dense-phase conveying, batch weighing, air filtration, feeding, mixing, and silo storage and blending. There will also be a training/education center with conference and lecture rooms for continuing education and university-level courses on bulk solids, as well as a material properties test lab.
The BSIC will be the fourth such university-led research center in the world, and the first in North America. According to Todd Smith, general manager of Coperion K-Tron, “Industry technical directors have been excited to hear about the BSIC because they all have issues with their bulk-solids plants. They would use this facility since there is no independent research being done in North America.”