Sieve Bead Removal for the Ethanol Industry

Hydro-Klean recently established a new niche in ethanol plant maintenance. At two facilities, one in Minnesota and the other in Illinois, HK removed very tiny beads, called sieve beads, from tower-like vessels located near the plants' distillation areas.

Sieve beads play an important role in ethanol manufacturing. When heated to approximately 350º, they help remove water from the alcohol, taking it from 160 to 190 proof. As a result, the alcohol available for the end product is purer. The service life of these beads ranges from five to seven years. With beads now at this stage, many of HK's ethanol customers are requesting our removal service.

Two Processes Equal Success
HK used its new Guzzler NX industrial, wet/dry vacuum truckat both plants. We handled each project a little differently but got the same successful outcome at both locations. At the Minnesota facility, HK vacuumed the sieve beads into the Guzzler’s eighteen-yard debris tank and disposed of the beads in roll-off containers. In Illinois, HK vacuumed the beads directly into thirty-two-yard vacuum bodies, eliminating contact with our truck body altogether.

Emphasizing Safety
Whether using the equipment or managing exposure hazards, safety was an important part of both projects. Due to the beads' high temperature, we needed to take precautions to prevent overheating the vacuum truck’s blower system. In addition, we were concerned about potentially unsafe vapors coming from the vessels themselves. HK crews continually checked LEL vapor levels for safe exposure readings and made sure that all the equipment was grounded for the prevention of dust explosions.

100% Success Rate
We completed both jobs in about twelve hours, and each one resulted in 100% recovery of all bead material. Once the HK team had completely removed all the old beads, each plant took responsibility for installing new sieve beads themselves.

Hydro-Klean is proud to add this important service to the many that we already provide to the ethanol industry, from its front to its back door.

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Beads find their way to the vacuum boxes. HK prepares the vessels.