February 2002

Engineering Case Histories

Case 7: Why is the agitator agitated?

Analytical modeling can help identify the root cause

Sofronas, A., Consulting Engineer

I enjoy analytical modeling, both the simple and the complex. It helps bring clarity to chaotic situations. Most of us have experienced such times during high-profile failures. The number of possible causes seems to model helps to quantify the true cause. Agitators are mixing devices used to blend products. Most pressured vessel designs require a mechanical shaft seal and the shaft must run true to prevent leakage. In this case history a high-speed agitator had a shaft that was bolted together in sections for easy installation. On startup external vibration of the agitator was excessive and vibration measurements indicated the amplitude to be at shaft rotating frequency, mean

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