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Case Study

Aggregate Diverter Handling Industrial Sand

Client: Industrial sand terminal
Size: 14 in | 355 mm
Application: Divert industrial sand from a bucket elevator into three storage tanks. The system is being used as part of a railcar unloading/truck loading station.


  • Body constructed from painted carbon steel.
  • Bucket & liners constructed from 400 Brinell Hardness Number (BHN) abrasion-resistant (AR) steel.
  • Material contact areas constructed from carbon steel.
  • Equipped with a Special Service Inlet (SSI) constructed from carbon steel. SSI features a dead pocket deflector which collects a small amount of materials at the inlet flange. This allows materials passing through the valve to abrade upon themselves, rather than wearing the inlet itself.
  • Bucket & outlet legs equipped with honeycomb/"rock box" liners constructed from 400 BHN AR steel. Materials collect in the honeycomb/"rock box" liners. Once filled, this allows materials passing through the valve to abrade upon themselves, rather than wearing the diverter body.
  • The diverter's removable access panel allows interior inspection and/or maintenance to be performed while the valve remains in-line.
  • Outlet legs offset 45° from vertical.
  • Double-acting air cylinder actuator is equipped with a magnetic piston, to be used with magnetic reed switches for gate position indication.
  • Round inlet/outlet transitions for bolt-through connection to match #125/150 ANSI flange pattern.
  • (Qty. 1) Straight leg design.

Challenge:  Source a diverter valve capable of withstanding the wear and abrasion associated with handling large volumes of abrasive materials.


Industrial sand is a washed and graded, high silica content quartz sand that is used with high-pressure fluids. The fluids are pumped into oil and gas wells to enlarge or scour out openings to create new fractures from which oil and gas can be recovered. An average fracture treatment for a single well uses 26,000 lb | 11,795 kg of industrial sand.

This terminal facility handles large volumes of industrial sand. Under their previous system, trucks were loaded via a belt conveyer – directly from the railcar. Loading was slow, inefficient and expensive.

After thorough review of the application, Vortex engineers identified Aggregate Diverters with modifications for added abrasion resistance as the best solution.

Installed in summer 2008, the Vortex Aggregate Diverters handle approximately 1,000 tons | 910 tonnes per day. With the new system, industrial sand is unloaded from railcars into storage bins at a rate of 200 tons | 180 tonnes per hour. Trucks are then pneumatically loaded at a rate of 25 tons | 20 tonnes in 2 ½ minutes. At this rate, trucks can be loaded two at a time, if necessary.

The terminal facility is open 12-14 hours a day, 6 days a week. The company estimates the new system will save them $500,000 annually. A cost savings of $20,000/month was immediately realized over previous railcar demurrage costs. By accelerating the truck loading process, drivers are able to turn an increasing number of loads each day. Because the terminal facility and the truck drivers are both paid by the load, loading a greater number of trucks creates potential sales/profit opportunities for both parties.

UPDATE: August 2012

This terminal facility continues to use two Vortex Aggregate Diverters in their original application. During the first four years of operation, an estimated 520,000 tons | 471,735 tonnes of industrial sand has been handled. The ductwork used to direct material flow from the diverters into the storage tanks has required periodic repair and has been replaced twice due to abrasion. No maintenance has been performed to either of the Vortex Aggregate Diverters.

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