Working Principle of Bucket Elevators

A bucket elevator refers to a mechanism that is used to convey materials in bulk across a vertical or inclined path. A bucket elevator is found in most industries as it’s essential in the production industry.

They are similar in operation to the conveyor belts. However, the difference between the two lies in the fact that the bucket elevators use buckets attached to a rotating chain or belt to move the materials. During the transportation, the goods are picked up using the buckets and transferred to the point where the materials are to be discharged, it releases the materials, and then returns to the pickup point where it picks up another load, and the cycle continues.

Working Principle of Bucket Elevators

The bucket elevator is configured based on its application, the materials, the height of the elevator, and then horsepower required to run it. The options of its configurations include continuous bucket elevators and centrifugal bucket elevators. The chain and belt options are available for both elevator settings.

The centrifugal bucket elevator employs centrifugal force to hurl the materials out the buckets as they are travelling over the sprocket.  In this, the buckets are spaced out, and its operations are carried out at low speed. The continuous bucket elevator, which in contrast to centrifugal bucket elevator, has its buckets spaced out and its activities are carried out at high speed.

Just as there are variable configuration options, various bucket options are also available. However, the primary yardstick for bucket selection is the material and elevator design. Some other features of the bucket elevator are top covers that are removable, access doors to make for easy maintenance, and horizontally and vertically heavy-reinforced, jig welded head, boot, and intermediate sections.

The main components of a bucket elevator are:

  • The bucket: this contains the materials to be hauled.
  • A belt or chain to hoist the bucket.
  • The belt or chain drive.
  • Appendages, one to load the bucket with the materials, another to receive the discharged material to maintain the tension on the belt and to enclose and protect the elevator.

Application of a bucket elevator:

As a result of the versatility of the bucket elevators, they are used in quite a lot of industries. The commonly known applications of the bucket elevator include:

  • Lime Processing Facilities
  • Fertilizer Plan
  • Power Plants
  • Steel Production Plants
  • Pulp and Paper Mills

Also, the bucket elevator can convey a broad range of materials. The materials that can be carried using the bucket elevator include:

  • Aggregates
  • Calcined Coke
  • Fertilizer
  • Fly Ash
  • Frac Sand
  • Lime
  • Minerals
  • Potash
  • Woodchips
  • Coal
  • crushed limestone
  • Foundry sand
  • Coke
  • Sugar
  • Animal feed
  • Chemicals
  • Phosphate rock,
  • Cement mill clinker
  • Friable
  • Fragile materials
  • Candy
  • Snacks
  • Coffee
  • Rice
  • Seed
  • Soaps
  • Detergents
  • Plastic Granules

Limitations of the bucket elevator:

  • The material should not be wet or sticky, as the material type is likely to create issues in discharge.
  • The size of the lump should not be more than 100mm.
  • The material should be at room temperature or a little above.
  • The materials are not to be very abrasive or corrosive.

Various bucket elevator manufacturers have made this device to be reliable and as such can be used to lift bulk materials. Compared to other elevators, the bucket elevators have the advantage of having a simple design, requiring little space and a small investment.

A bucket elevator can raise a variety of bulk materials from light to heavy and from fine to large chunks. If there is a need for material to be transported vertically or inclined, the bucket elevator is likely the perfect device for the job.

Advantages of belt system over chain system in bucket elevators:

  • The traction element in a bucket elevator may either be an endless belt or an endless chain.
  • However, the belt system is a preferred option for many conditions.

Some of the reasons for which a belt system is a better choice for the bucket elevator is:

  • In the belt system, higher speeds are possible.
  • There is quieter operation in the belt system.
  • In the belt system, there is a better resistance to abrasive materials like sand, coke, etc.