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Bucket Elevator Basics

This article was authored by:

Tim Matzke
Material Handling Expert

The versatility and configurability of bucket elevators make them a

common material handling system in a number of different industries.

If material needs to be moved vertically, chances are a bucket elevator is

the ideal solution for the job. In fact, the versatility and configurability of
this equipment make bucket elevators a common material handling
system in a number of different industries. Listed below are basic facts
that highlight why bucket elevators are commonly used, with key
elements to consider when choosing whether or not this equipment is the
right material handling solution for a particular application.

How Do Bucket Elevators Work

In simple terms, bucket elevators vertically convey bulk materials. They are considered similar to conveyor belts, with
the greatest difference being that bucket elevators move material using buckets attached to a rotating belt or chain.
The buckets work to pick up material, move it to the desired endpoint, discharge material, and finally return to the
starting point to pick up a new load.

Bucket elevator configurations are engineered based on the application, material, required horsepower, and elevator
height. Configuration options include centrifugal bucket elevators and continuous bucket elevators, with both models
including belt and chain options.

Centrifugal Bucket Elevators

A centrifugal bucket elevator employs centrifugal force to throw material out of the buckets as they travel over the
head pulley or sprocket. This type of bucket elevator operates at a higher speed and spaces buckets further apart
versus continuous bucket elevators. The result of the high speed and bucket spacing is optimized material fill and
reduced interference between buckets.

Centrifugal bucket elevators are available with a belt or single chain.

Continuous Bucket Elevators

Continuous bucket elevators operate at a low speed with closely spaced buckets compared to centrifugal bucket
elevators. This action permits material flow over the backside of the preceding bucket. Additionally, extended sides on
the buckets gently guide material into the discharge spout. These modifications create an ideal environment for
fragile, abrasive, and sluggish materials. Benefits include limited material aeration, minimized breakage of friable
material, and minimized product damage of fragile material.

Continuous bucket elevators are available with a belt, single chain, or double chain.

In addition to varying configuration options, there are also a number of bucket options available, with material and
elevator design being primary bucket selection criteria. Other bucket elevator features include removable top covers,
access doors for easy maintenance, and horizontally and vertically heavy-reinforced, jig welded head, boot, and
intermediate sections.

Bucket Elevator Applications

Due to their versatility, bucket elevators are commonly used in a number of industries. Examples of common bucket
elevator applications include:

Fertilizer Plants
Lime Processing Facilities
Power Plants
Pulp and Paper Mills
Steel Production Plants

Common Bucket Elevator Materials

Bucket elevators can handle a wide range of free flowing materials with varying characteristics. Light, fragile, heavy,
and abrasive materials can all be transferred using a bucket elevator. Examples of materials conveyed via bucket
elevator include:

Animal Feeds
Calcined Coke
Fly Ash
Frac Sand

Bucket elevators are not recommended for use with material that is wet, sticky, or has a sludge consistency. These
types of materials tend to create discharge issues, with build-up being a common problem.

After building custom bucket elevators for more than 60 years, FEECO’s bucket elevators are able to meet even the
toughest of challenges. Whether a customer is looking to transport a dry, dusty material or a heavier, more
challenging product, FEECO can custom engineer a bucket elevator solution to meet the needs of any material
handling application. For more information on bucket elevators or other material handling equipment, contact us

FEECO International, Inc. Toll Free: (800) 373.9347 Phone: (920) 468.1000 Email: sales@feeco.com


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