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Decanter Centrifuges: A Bavarian Success Story

Decanter Specialist Flottweg Celebrates its 75th Anniversary With a Look to the Past and the Future

07.03.2008 | Editor: Doris Neukirchen

Flottweg’s current product range consists of decanters, belt presses and separators (automatic disc stack centrifuges) and handles many different applications and capacities from pilot plant to large-scale continuously operating production facilities.
Flottweg’s current product range consists of decanters, belt presses and separators (automatic disc stack centrifuges) and handles many different applications and capacities from pilot plant to large-scale continuously operating production facilities.

This year decanter specialist Flottweg celebrates its 75th anniversary. The decanters are used for continuous separation of suspended solids from liquids, clarification of liquids, and classification of fine particles. But, it all began with a motor...

In 1911 Gustav Otto, the son of the inventor of the engine factory “Otto-Motore”, founded an aircraft factory called the Gustav Otto Flugmaschinen-Werke. In 1916 this Munich company became the Bavarian engine company Bayerische Motorenwerke, known by many today as BMW. In 1918 Otto started a new company in Munich and developed a bicycle with an auxiliary engine under the name Flottweg. In 1932 Dr. Georg Bruckmayer acquired the rights to the Flottweg name and founded the Flottweg-Motoren-Werke factory, making motorcycles and aircraft engines. In 1943 the company relocated to the small town of Vilsbiburg in Lower Bavaria, 60 miles north-east of Munich.

After World War II the production of aircraft was no longer allowed. Flottweg survived by making equipment for the printing industry, but the trend to offset printing soon reduced this market. Looking for new business, Flottweg started to manufacture decanter centrifuges (solid bowl centrifuges) in the mid-1950s.

Today Flottweg is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of decanters, and has extensive technical knowledge in all areas of mechanical solid-liquid separation. The company has more than 500 employees all over the world, and a turnover of €125 million in 2007. Long experience in liquid–solid separation, intensive research and modern manufacturing technologies have resulted in a highly developed range of products—decanters, belt presses, and disc stack centrifuges—for many different applications.

Flottweg has sold thousands of decanter centrifuges and belt presses worldwide to the mining, petrochemical, chemical, pharmaceutical, food, beverage and waste treatment industries.

A range of separations technologies

Flottweg decanters are used for continuous separation of suspended solids from liquids, clarification of liquids, and classification of fine particles. They are available in capacities from pilot-scale up to 250 m3/h. Typical applications are dewatering and thickening of sludge from water and wastewater treatment; production of plastics such as PVC and HDPE; recovery and processing of animal and vegetable oils, fats, starch, and proteins; wine, beer, fruit and vegetable juices; dewatering of slurries in the mining industry; and biofuels.

Separating very fine-grained solids from liquids is difficult in a decanter because the resulting soft sediment is difficult to discharge. In this case Flottweg Sedicanters are the preferred alternative. They are available in capacities of up to 50 m3/h, for applications including separation of biomass from fermentation broths, recovery of vegetable proteins such as soy, and beer recovery from spent yeast.

Flottweg Tricanters provide simultaneous separation of two immiscible liquids with different densities and one solid phase. Tricanters are available in capacities of up to 80 m3/h. Applications include processing oily sludges; recovery of oils and fats; and separating wheat starch and gluten. Flottweg Sorticanters are specialized horizontal decanter centrifuges for separating two solid phases with different densities. The process uses a carrier liquid with a density between those of the two solid streams. A typical application is plastics recycling.

Disk stack centrifuges with self-cleaning bowls are used for clarification and three-phase liquid-solid separation. Flottweg recently developed the AC series of disk stack centrifuges featuring the SoftShot discharge system, accurate partial discharge and smooth operation.

Capacities range from below 1 m3/h to 85 m3/h. Typical applications are in food and beverages, chemistry, pharmacy, biotechnology, animal and vegetable fats and oils, and mineral oils.

Flottweg belt presses are made entirely from stainless steel for hygiene and durability. They feature easy access for operation and cleaning, and pneumatic belt control for reliable operation with minimum labor. Capacities range from 1 t/h up to 40 t/h. Typical applications are fruit juice extraction, dewatering of brewer’s grains, algae and herb extracts, coffee grounds, industrial and biological sludges, magnesium sulfate, and manganese sulfate.

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