How Western Fertilizer and Vanton Pumps Saved the Sowing Season
The fertilizer manufacturing process uses pumps to mix abrasive urea powder into a mixture of sulfuric acid and water. The resulting angularly shaped powder particles remain extremely abrasive at 32° F until they reach 170° F and dissolve. Afterwards, the finished fertilizer decreases in temperature until ambient and stable.
Working with such an abrasive solution, it is no wonder that 316 stainless steel pumps were severely corroded in the process. With seven operations from Texas to Montana and customers who depended on them for urea acid fertilizer at very specific times in the early spring and fall, Western Fertilizer could not afford pump failures.
This obstacle was resolved by switching to pumps with wet end nonmetallic components. Vanton Chem-Gard® centrifugal pumps were selected to move 400 GPM of fertilizer mixture 12 feet upward in a 1600-gallon tank. Highly satisfactory results were achieved with the fluoropolymers PVDF and ECTFE, which had been purported to be the most remarkably inert engineered plastics for handling highly acidic or abrasive fluids at elevated temperatures.
These pumps are used 14 hours per day, seven days per week from late March to mid-May as well as throughout September and October. However, during the rest of the year the pace is much less frenetic, allowing time for general maintenance and seal inspection.