Two-piece screens have been designed specifically for use in filtering a granular material to remove contaminant particles that are significantly wider or longer than are the desired granules. In the original application for which the two-piece screens were conceived, the granular material is ammonium perchlorate and the contaminant particles tend to be wires and other relatively long, rigid strands. The basic design of the two-piece screens can be adapted to other granular materials and contaminants by modifying critical dimensions to accommodate different grain and contaminant-particle sizes.

A two-piece screen of this type consists mainly of (1) a top flat plate perforated with circular holes arranged in a hexagonal pattern and (2) a bottom plate that is also perforated with circular holes (but not in a pure hexagonal pattern) and is folded into an accordion structure. Fabrication of the bottom plate begins with drilling circular holes into a flat plate in a hexagonal pattern that is interrupted, at regular intervals, by parallel gaps. The plate is then folded into the accordion structure along the gaps. Because the folds are along the gaps, there are no holes at the peaks and valleys of the accordion screen. The top flat plate and the bottom accordion plate are secured within a metal frame. The resulting two-piece screen is placed at the bottom opening of a feed hopper containing the granular material to be filtered.

Tests have shown that such long, rigid contaminant strands as wires readily can pass through a filter consisting of the flat screen alone and that the addition of the accordion screen below the flat screen greatly increases the effectiveness of removal of wires and other contaminant strands. Part of the reason for increased effectiveness is in the presentation of the contaminant to the filter surface. Testing has shown that wire type contamination will readily align itself parallel to the material direction flow. Since this direction of flow is nearly always perpendicular to the filter surface holes, the contamination is automatically aligned to pass through. The two-filter configuration reduces the likelihood that a given contaminant strand will be aligned with the flow of material by eliminating the perpendicular presentation angle. Thus, for wires of a certain diameter, a two-piece screen is 20 percent more effective than is the corresponding flat perforated plate alone, even if the holes in the flat plate are narrower.

An accordion screen alone is similarly effective in catching contaminants, but lumps of agglomerated granules of the desired material often collect in the valleys and clog the screen. The addition of a flat screen above the accordion screen prevents clogging of the accordion screen. Flat wire screens have often been used to remove contaminants from granular materials, and are about as effective as are the corresponding perforated flat plates used alone.

This work was done by Douglas Backes, Clay Poulter, Max Godfrey, Melinda Dutton, and Dennis Tolman of Alliant Techsystems Inc. for Marshall Space Flight Center. For more information, contact Sammy Nabors, MSFC Commercialization Assistance Lead, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refer to MFS-32496-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2009 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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