Coal Age Dewatering Solutions

Dewatering Solutions: Streamlined Model Specification, Analysis

Streamlined Model Specification, Analysis

Applied Flow Technology released AFT Fathom 12, the latest iteration of its flagship fluid dynamic modeling software solution, in Q4 2021. The updated version has new features and tools to streamline the workflow for model specification and analysis, an engineer at AFT said.

“With the new version, we build upon our foundational strengths to refine the features and processes our users are accustomed to, allowing users to easily compile their model information into libraries and visualize the results of their system with multi-scenario graphing,” said Nick Vastine, business applications engineer, AFT.

AFT Fathom 12 features improvements to the modeling process, improved organization of warnings, and easier use of the library and database.

The software solution is designed for use by engineers to, among other things, calculate pressure drop and pipe flow distribution in liquid and low-velocity gas piping and
ducting systems.

“Engineers can build a representation of their system’s pipes, pumps, components, and branches to ensure their equipment is properly sized and will operate as expected,” Vastine said. “This model can then be tuned and experimented on to reveal efficiency improvements or consider a range of potential operating conditions.”

For example, the solution uses a tool called Scenario Manager that allows users “to explore unique scenarios like changes in operating conditions, evaluate resizing equipment, or follow their curiosity to discover better designs,” he said.

“All of these scenarios are built within a single file, making quick iterative engineering or correcting mis-input as painless as possible,” Vastine said. “This flexibility and other features that speed up comparative analysis are only a few of the ways AFT Fathom has remained competitive for nearly 30 years.”

AFT Fathom 12 features new tools to help engineers quickly build a representation of a system of pipes, pumps, components, and branches to ensure everything is properly sized and will operate as expected. (Image: Applied Flow Technology)

AFT Fathom can help an engineer design, virtually test, and troubleshoot a system for dewatering at a mine site.

“It is almost a constant battle to keep water out of a surface mine, either from the natural water table, rivers, streams, or storm events,” he said.

“AFT Fathom enables engineers to find the most efficient way to transport this water, avoiding safety hazards or other disruptions to mine production,” Vastine said. “Engineers could use our software to size equipment, configure existing components like skid-mounted pumps, and consider changes in the supply condition and its impact to system performance.”

The solution helps an engineer design a hydraulic system that can constantly fluctuate supply or demand. It helps ensure “that a single system can handle each of the extremes of operation, avoiding flood risk and it’s devastating effects,” Vastine said. “AFT Fathom can confirm the sizing of pumps and piping for these extremes, but also considers their operating point to maximize efficiency and reliability in each case.”

For surface coal dewatering applications, models generated in AFT Fathom “can ensure the constantly changing operating conditions don’t cause downtime from undersized or poorly designed systems, at the same time ensuring the operation of your pumps is as efficient as possible,” he said. “By creating a model of your system, it also enables an engineer to experiment with set-ups or operating cases within a computer rather than experiment in the field, ideally settling on an optimized solution before changing anything that could disrupt production.”

Historically, hydraulic engineers have used the software to troubleshoot hypothetical challenges and test preemptive measures. For example, an engineering contractor in Australia used it to model and trial a system involving four skid-mounted parallel pump sets to pump 7,600 gpm over more than 2.7 miles up a 1,300 ft elevation.

“Due to the narrow piping and significant elevation gain, NPSH and cavitation were major concerns during design,” Vastine said. “Mounted to skids, the contractor had the flexibility to rearrange the pumps and adjust their speed to meet suction and discharge pressure requirements.”

As the mine further developed, the engineering contractor used AFT Fathom to study the benefits and effects of adding more skids to overcome the increased mine depth.

The contractor “credited the ease to evaluate what-if scenarios for optimizing the solution for cost, and thought the graphics generated in the applications clearly communicated the design’s compliance to requirements,” Vastine said.

AFT Fathom was initially released in 1994 as the first drag-and-drop interface in a hydraulic design tool. “Since then, AFT Fathom has accumulated users in over 80 countries via our sales network of 42 regional channel partners,” he said. “Nearly 30 years later, AFT Fathom 12 was released in November 2021, further building upon the foundations established decades before.”

Ultimately, the software and module are purpose-designed for engineers. New or prospective users “should have a foundation in the basics of fluid flow analysis before building models of their systems,” he said.

AFT Fathom advances the company’s mission “to empower engineers to intelligently design fluid transfer systems with innovative tools, education, and service,” he said. “Our tools, like AFT Fathom, ensure engineers can design their system to be safe, reliable, and efficient.”


This article is published in the Septmebr 2022 issue of Coal Age Magazine. Read the full article.
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