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Centrifuges vs. Belt Presses: Weighing the Options

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Belt filter presses are industrial machines, used for solid/liquid separation processes, particularly the dewatering of sludge's in the chemical, mining, and water treatment industries.

A costly burden on many companies, belt filter presses require continuous staffing and excessive maintenance costs that often surpass the expenses needed to replace and upgrade the current equipment.

Until recently, belt filter presses have been the default bio-solid dewatering method. However, an improved alternative method such as the decanter centrifuge is currently available.

Decanter centrifuges separates solids and liquids, and has become an essential component of water waste facilities and the chemical, oil, and food processing industries.

When To Consider a Centrifuge over a Belt Press?

Comparing belt presses and centrifuges really comes down to the needs of the facility. In order to develop a true cost analysis, operation size and ancillary odor abatement concerns all are factors in the equation.

Centrifuges are proven to meet needs and exceed expectations in the refinery industry.

A few questions come to mind for many companies when considering the switch from a belt press to a centrifuge:

1. Why hasn’t this been done before?

Well until 5-10 years ago, there weren’t too many decanter centrifuges large enough to compete with belt presses as far as throughput goes. A 2-meter belt press (common size used) can process bio sludge in the range of 150-200 gpm. With a 21" centrifuge, you can produce this same throughput if not greater.

2. What is the economic impact of going with a centrifuge as opposed to a belt press?

The economic impact can be large. Using a centrifuge, it is possible to get the solids content up significantly. This is accomplished by reducing the water content of the solids by reducing the weight of the product to be disposed.

Switching from a belt press to a centrifuge also dramatically reduces the man-hours needed for solids handling. Many case studies show that switching out belt filter presses for centrifuges can reduce the hours worked per week without sacrificing production.

The main economic impact is the disposal of less solids. With a centrifuge producing dryer solids, the weight by volume is less which in turn reduces the disposal cost.

3. What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Centrifuge Advantages:

  • Gets the same, if not better, throughput than a belt press
  • Captures more solids than a belt press with better efficiency and dryer solids
  • Easier to operate than a belt press with more efficient technology
  • Greater range of mobility
  • Could see up to a 40% reduction in operations costs

Belt Press Disadvantages

  • Facilities often receive products with high oil content, causing the belts to clog and decreasing operating efficiency. Belt change out costs can be expensive.
  • Belt presses are notoriously difficult to operate, requiring extensive training for the operators and decreasing workforce efficiency.
  • Belt presses require a significant amount of water to operate (due to the cleaning mechanism used to attempt to clean the belts) this water is a resource for other parts of the operation but is now turned into a waste which will have to be treated.
  • A belt presses solid capture efficiency is less than a centrifuge, which allow more solids to get through the process.

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