Agglomeration Equipment Basics

This article was co-authored by:

Carrie Carlson
Technical Writer

Chris Kozicki
Agglomeration Expert

There are many choices on the market when it comes to agglomeration equipment. Additionally, new uses are being developed all the time, making current equipment options increasingly flexible. Below, we’ve provided a quick overview of some of the most common types of agglomeration equipment.

Click on the image below to view our infographic on agglomeration equipment.

Agglomeration Equipment Infographic

Disc Pelletizers

Disc pelletizers (also known as pan granulators) are a type of agitation (tumble growth) agglomeration equipment. In the world of agglomeration equipment, the pelletizer is often chosen for its ability to fine-tune the product size, the process of which is a combination of both science and art. The pelletizer offers several variables, all of which can be adjusted, and work together to create the desired pellet.

How Disc Pelletizers Work

Material is fed onto the pan, where it is taken up by the rotation of the pan. Both material feedstock and a binder are continuously fed onto the disc pelletizer, making this a continuous process. The binder causes the fines to be tacky, allowing them to pick up more fines as they tumble on the disc. This results in an effect similar to rolling a snowball, referred to as coalescence.

Agglomerators & Granulation Drums (Rotary Drums)

Agglomerators, also known as agglomeration drums, fall under the tumble growth agglomeration category. Agglomerators are valued for their high throughput, and while they are used throughout a variety of industries, they are perhaps most common in the mining industry, due to their ability to accept variance in feedstock, and their heavy-duty construction, ideal for the demanding process needs of the mining industry. Here, they aid in the heap leaching process by promoting optimal ore extraction through more uniform particle shape and size. In addition, agglomerators can be used for specialty applications such as coating.

How Agglomerators & Granulation Drums Work

Similar to disc pelletizers, agglomerators tumble material fines in the presence of a binder to promote agglomeration. Agglomerators can also be valuable when a chemical reaction is required during agglomeration, such as in the fertilizer industry. Here, agglomerators, referred to as granulation drums (or granulators), are fitted with a cross-pipe reactor, where liquid ingredients are combined and reacted, and then sparged into the rotating drum as a hot melt, where they then tumble and agglomerate as they simultaneously cool.

Pin Mixers

Pin mixers are industrial mixers used for a variety of purposes, including: micro-pelletizing, conditioning, agglomerating, and mixing. These versatile mixers are particularly adept at dealing with fine materials, such as powders, and are optimal machines for mixing these fines with a binder. Pin mixers can act as a standalone agglomeration unit, or as the precursor to a disc pelletizer or agglomeration drum setup.

How Pin Mixers Work

Pin mixers use a high-speed spinning action to both mix and agglomerate materials in the presence of a binder. A single shaft affixed with rods (pins) rotates at a constant speed, creating a densified product through the use of motion.

Pugmill Mixers

Like pin mixers, pugmill mixers, sometimes also called paddle mixers or pug mills, are industrial mixers capable of conditioning, mixing, and agglomerating. Pugmill mixers are also ideal solutions for processing material in the presence of a binder, though unlike pin mixers, pugmill mixers are more suited to heavy-duty material processing, such as can be found in the mining industry.

How Pugmill Mixers Work

Pugmill mixers use dual-shafts with pitched paddles to create a kneading and folding over motion inside the mixer. This results in a thorough mixture of ingredients. Here again, pugmill mixers can be used as a stand-alone agglomeration device, or as part of a larger processing configuration.

Comparing Agglomeration Equipment

The chart below provides a comparison summary of the agglomeration equipment discussed here.

Equipment Name Other names Pressure or Non-Pressure? Binder normally Required? Uses Common Materials
Disc Pelletizers
Disc Granulators
Pan Pelletizers
Pan Granulators
Non-Pressure Yes Pelletizing
Chemical Powders
Fly Ash
Rotary Drums
Agglomeration Drums
Balling Drums
Ore Drums
Granulation Drums
Non-Pressure Yes
Granulating with a Chemical Reaction
Minerals & Ores
Pin Mixers Pin Agglomerators Non-Pressure Yes
Coal Dust
Fly Ash
Pugmill Mixers Pug MillsPaddle Mixers Non-Pressure Yes
FGD Scrubber Sludge
Ag Chemicals
Carbon Powders
Chemical Consumer Products
Minerals & Ores

Which Agglomeration Equipment is Right for You?

While the variety of options in agglomeration equipment may seem overwhelming, often the material characteristics and desired end product characteristics will help to narrow down the decision. FEECO also offers a unique agglomeration testing center, where we can not only determine if your material will agglomerate, but also what equipment configuration will be necessary to produce the desired end product results.

FEECO has been a pioneer in the agglomeration industry since 1951. We offer custom agglomeration equipment and process solutions. For more information on our agglomeration solutions, contact us today!

About the Authors . . .

Carrie Carlson is a technical writer and visual designer.

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Chris Kozicki is a Process Sales Engineer and agglomeration expert.

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More About Chris