New robotically cleaning machine

As a part of the ongoing efforts to improve in particular the sustainable thermal energy processes, Ørsted has in collaboration with the Danish Technological Institute developed a new robotically cleaning machine.

The background is that frequent removal of dust coming from the biomasses in the areas under and along the wood pellet transport lines and in biomass handling areas lower the risk of explosion and fire spreading by reducing the amounts of deposited dust. For safety reasons, manual cleaning of these areas and conveyor belts is not allowed during operation of the transport system.

In addition, one daily manual cleaning of dust allows ~24 hours for new dust to settle on surfaces. Finally, commercially available robot dust cleaners are not suitable for cleaning under conveyor belts.
Hence the aim has been to develop a flexible, fit for purpose robot cleaning solution.

Ørsted Bioenergy and Thermal Power A/S has developed a robot cleaning machine for cleaning of dust and smaller particles (e.g., wood dust, straw dust, and wood pellets) at power plants. The Danish Technological Institute has headed the development of the robot as a consultant to Ørsted.
The robot is designed for cleaning of all surfaces but is particularly well suited for cleaning under conveyor belts, transporting wood pellets from the wood pellet storages to the combustion boilers.

The robot has an optimized flat design, making it possible to clean under low-height structures.
The cleaning concept is based on sweeping and vacuuming. The robot is equipped with rotating brushes, placed at the front edges of the robot. These brushes guide the material to a centrally placed roller brush that transports the material to the dust compartment. The cleaning is furthermore aided by a vacuuming system to remove the finer particles.

The robot operates as an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV), using ultrasonic distance sensors to maintain a straight course. Hence no wire pull or guide rail in the floor is necessary.

The main features are summarized below:

  • Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) design maintain straight course through encoder feedback and ultrasonic distance sensors
  • The robot fits under the existing conveyor belt constructions and is designed for inclined surfaces. This is achieved by installing side brushes of low height driven by a compact crown gearhead, to gain high energy efficiency and low maintenance cost
  • A solution using multiple motors has been chosen to avoid complex transmission and to reduce the number of wear parts
  • Side and main brush collects the dust without modification of the floor surface
  • An automatic dust disposal through vacuum system using either a combination of compressed air and vacuum cleaner, applied from external compressor and central vacuum system. Or a vacuum cleaner in combination with automatically inclined dust tray
  • Obstacle avoidance through bumper switches
  • Flexible design, can be modified to any belt width
  • Antistatic and electrically conductive brushes, wheels, and body
  • Motor and electronics are dust/waterproof and protected against overheating
  • Low brush rotation and traction speed to avoid dust getting airborne