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Arkomon XP 1820 Emulsifier Case Study

The Bottom Line

Working side-by-side with the customer, Clariant develops a specific Arkomon formulation to give one major explosives manufacturer a competitive edge and…

  • Reduce emulsifier cost by 10%
  • Leverage Clariant’s established Indonesia supply chain for a shorter emulsifier lead time
  • Optimize time to viscosity to meet explosives production targets
  • Meet specific key emulsifier performance parameters

Objectives

In a highly competitive Indonesian market, one major explosives producer searched for ways to lower emulsifier costs and improve the supply chain, while maintaining product performance. The previous emulsifier was imported in drums from the United States, which resulted in a long lead time for shipments and required a significant inventory.

The new emulsifier had to meet the customer’s strict adherence to key performance characteristics of water resistance, viscosity and stability of viscosity, with no crystal development. In order to maintain production levels, the emulsifier was required to meet the customer’s time-to-viscosity target.

Developed for bulk explosives, the producer needed the emulsifier to meet strict requirements for gassing rate of the emulsion. The company also desired an in-hole sleep time of 30 days in wet conditions.

Background

As the second largest coal exporting country in the world, the Republic of Indonesia explosives market is also one of the most competitive. Multiple explosives producers vie for customers from this strong mining segment, with no producer gaining a dominant market share.

One major explosives producer in the region imported drums of the emulsifier it used from a supplier in the United States, increasing costs and making this a weakness in the company’s product supply chain. With a strong emulsifier supply infrastructure already established in Indonesia, Clariant developed a relationship with the producer and is working with the company to supply an emulsifier in bulk shipments.

Initially working with limited direction from the producer, Clariant application technicians tested several different Arkomon formulations to supply a product that could replace the producer’s existing emulsifier. Clariant’s in-lab experiments showed several different formulations would meet anticipated performance standards. Using different measuring standards, however, the producer’s lab results did not concur with Clariant’s.

Clariant engineers then took the next step. They went to the producer’s laboratory to learn its testing procedures to determine the type of emulsifier the plant required to produce its explosive emulsion products.

The equipment in the plant was found to use relatively low shear mixing to produce the emulsion. This meant that an emulsifier capable of achieving the required time to viscosity under low shear conditions needed to be specifically developed. This cannot be achieved by only modifying emulsifier chemistry, as the choice of oil diluent also becomes a critical factor. Once successful test results were confirmed in the producer’s laboratory, larger quantity pilot plant trials were needed before going to full scale supply.

Actions

Working side-by-side with the customer, Clariant technicians uncovered the producer’s needs and learned how to custom-design an emulsifier to meet the company’s testing standards and production goals. While the emulsifier was an important component, the type of oil used as a diluent in the emulsifier was equally important to optimize emulsifier performance in this producer’s products.

With this knowledge, Clariant developed trials for variants of its Arkomon emulsifier, which were evaluated jointly in the customer’s application laboratory. Successful results hinged on several key performance characteristics outlined by the customer, including water resistance, viscosity, stability of viscosity, lack of crystal development and time to viscosity.

After analyzing trial data, Clariant technicians determined that Arkomon XP 1820 performed best in bulk formulation to meet the customer’s performance needs. From there, large samples of Arkomon XP 1820 were sent to the customer’s pilot plant for large-scale trials. Emulsifier performance results obtained in the company’s pilot plant confirmed the previously obtained laboratory data, and the producer switched to the Arkomon product.

Clariant continued to work with the explosives producer to optimize the process. While maintaining target emulsion production level, the producer achieved a reduction in emulsifier costs, allowing the company to be more competitive.

Results

Working closely and developing a long-term partnership with the explosives emulsion producer enables Clariant to optimize the emulsion production process, so the customer works more efficiently and saves money.

The tailor-made Arkomon XP 1820 emulsifier allows this Indonesian explosives producer to be more competitive by…

  • More efficiently meeting the customer’s key performance
  • Reducing emulsifier costs while maintaining production levels
  • Offering a locally-sourced emulsifier
  • Shortening emulsifier shipment lead time and lowering required inventory levels \
  • Providing optimum gas blend stability
  • Meeting time-to-viscosity needs for the production process
  • Maintaining desired water resistance and in-hole sleep time in wet applications

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