Harvesting potash from the Dead Sea

FLSmidth and Arab Potash Company (APC) recently launched the site's twelfth RAHCO® harvester on-time and on-budget. This latest successful project points to a continuation of a prosperous and successful relationship between the companies.

APC’s operation is located at the southern end of the Dead Sea in the country of Jordan. The RAHCO® floating tracked harvesters (FTH) are placed in a series of pads that make up an interwoven set of water systems whose initial flow is pumped from the Dead Sea to the processing plant located on the southern shores.

The Dead Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world; its salinity is nearly 9.6 times greater than that of the ocean. This makes for a harsh environment in which animals cannot flourish, hence the name of the "Dead" Sea. The high saline levels of the Dead Sea are not good for animals, but provide a rich abundance of potash resources as the compound makeup of potash consists of salts that contain potassium in a water-soluble form.

Floating tracked harvester technology
The harvesters are flat-bottom vessels with four tracks (one at each corner) that are hydraulically raised and lowered to make light contact with the pad's floor. The tracks are used to steer and propel the vessel through the potash pads, which are approximately 2 m deep. Each FTH has a large auger mounted on the front of the vessel, which turns slowly to collect the brine (a combination of water, salt, magnesium chloride and potash). The brine is a byproduct of the highly concentrated minerals-based soil and salt water of the Dead Sea. As the auger screw collects and pushes the material to the center of the auger head, a large vacuum pump system pulls the material into the vessel, sorts and filters the material, and discharges the brine solution via a floating pipeline that tails the FTH. The floating pipeline conveys the material from each vessel to a diverse system of land-based pipelines that convey this material to the processing plant.

The design of the FTH has remained essentially unchanged since the 1980s, giving credit to the initial design and functionality of the vessels. FLSmidth's improvements to the initial designs include upgrades to various components. For example, the hydraulic power units (HPUs) have been upgraded with newer pumps and filters as newer designs have improved over the past 30+ years. In addition to the upgraded HPUs, adjustments have been made to the routing of electrical and hydraulic fluid conduit and piping. The e-house has also been upgraded to a newer layout and HMI to aid in the process of data tracking and improved predictable proactive maintenance needs. The auger design has been intensified with a toothed design, which is used to break up harder carnallite deposits.

FLSmidth acquired the RAHCO brand of mobile conveying and stacking technology in April 2007. Along with the purchase of the mobile conveying technology, FLSmidth also gained the RAHCO floating tracked harvester technology, which has been supplied to the potash industry for more than 30 years. The Arab Potash Company has been FLSmidth's main customer for this technology. This relationship has continued to strengthen over the years into a recently established five-year alliance agreement between FLSmidth and APC.

CONTACT: Tim Tebbe

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