V-2 low-flow pneumatic pump recovers tar at Aussie steel plant: 'performed exactly as we hoped'

In 2015, engineers at an Australian steel plant works discovered tar in an environmental-monitoring bore.

As part of the investigation and plan for remediation, the company put in a 2-foot diameter, 12-foot-deep well, topping it with a modified-extended version of Blackhawk’s versatile V-2 Pneumatic Piston Pump™ later in the year.

The engineers decided to link the discharge hose to a skip bin (dumpster), with an overflow hose for ground water return to the well. When filled, the bin is emptied using a vacuum truck. The tar is then taken to the company’s recycling plant.

10,000 liters

The pump was run off and on for the first couple months while the engineers assessed tar recovery and how to handle the resulting discharge, including environmental controls.

In February 2016, the pump began continuous 24/7 operations.

"It has performed exactly as we hoped," the onsite asset-reliability manager said four months later. "We have extracted close to 10,000 liters. The pump slowly does its job with little problem."

Lessons learned

A minor issue developed when a "couple of small pieces of debris" interfered with proper closing of the control valve, the engineer said. The debris was discovered and removed without damage to the valve, and the pump was restarted without incident.

Discharge hose is attached to a bin, and tar then vacuumed out.

The engineer said he believes damage to the Delrin cartridge seal was caused by onsite mechanical damage. The cylinder rod became crusted with dried tar residue, and the rod then was run through the seals without being cleaned first. "In hindsight, our lube has been lacking," he said.

A simple answer is an inexpensive, refillable auto-lubricator, attached to the seal plate, which dispenses tiny amounts of oil to the rod with each stroke. The amounts can be adjusted by an operator.

The engineer is happy with results thus far as the company continues to assess the size of the tar plume and further pumping needs. He added: "Thanks for such a good, purpose-built unit."