Heating aggregates for use in a concrete batch plant during cold and winter months is a significant struggle for many northern US and Canadian concrete plants. Both Ready Mix and Products concrete plants that choose to operate during the cold winter months are forced to deal with this problem. For readers that are wondering how or why a concrete plant would even operate in the winter months, that is an long topic of its own I may someday address, but for the purposes of this article, I will be focusing on the most common methods for heating aggregates for use in a concrete batch plant.
When looking for your aggregate heating solution, you need to first clearly identify your problem and then determine what you want from your heated material. For example, your problem may be that your stock pile freezes solid or clumps together in big blocks. Maybe your material is holding more moisture in the form of ice than you want in your mix. Most every concrete plant operator has its own unique problem, so be sure to clearly identify what is happening and the problem you are dealing with and be able to communicate that.
The second major decision that needs to be made to properly handle your aggregate heating needs is to determine what you want the heated material to be like. Some operators just want to break the major clumps apart and will heat the mix with hot water. Other more complex mix designs may require materials fall within a specific temperature range and/or hydration level.
The final factor that must be considered for your aggregate heating needs is how much material will you be using, and how long will those materials have to heat. Often times, the concrete plants primary aggregate bins are equipped with an aggregate heating system. This enables operators to fill their aggregate bins at the end of the day and have overnight for the materials to heat. High production facilities are turning more to hybrid systems that heat aggregates enough to flow in the plant, then the specific materials are heated by the batch. Other plants just use a large feed hopper to heat the material enough to flow it into the plant, then let hot water and admix do the rest. Ultimately, your production needs and specificity required in mix design will play a large part in determining your aggregate heating system’s needs.
While it is desirable to incorporate an aggregate heating system with your concrete plant when they are purchase new, it is common for existing concrete plants of various styles, sizes and ages to be equipped with aggregate heating systems. There are a variety of aggregate heating systems available for plants, bins and even stock piles, but these applications are customized to the concrete plant it is being installed on. Consequently, these systems are rarely found in the used marketplace.
If you have specific questions on aggregate heating for concrete plants or other materials, or would like to discuss the specifics of your concrete plant our sales persons are happy to assist. You can also find more information on aggregate heating system at our website.