Sampling bulk material is challenging, especially in terms of "inlet" or sample feeding. Here are some of the main problems and possible solutions:
- Variations in material flow: When sampling bulk material, the material flow can vary, which can lead to inaccurate samples. One solution could be automated sampling, which is able to adjust the sampling rate to the flow rate.
- Distribution of particle sizes: Bulk solids often have a wide distribution of particle sizes, which can make sampling difficult. Large particles can tend to clump or clog, while small particles tend to get lost in the airflow. One solution could be to use special sampling systems designed for a specific particle size distribution.
- Chemical and physical heterogeneity: Bulk materials can be chemically and physically heterogeneous, which means that a small sample may not be representative of the entire lot. One solution could be to take several samples over the entire inlet and mix them to obtain a representative sample.
- Contamination: There is always a risk of contamination, especially if the material is introduced into a container or other vessel. One solution could be to thoroughly clean the sampling system and container before taking a new sample.
- Safety: Bulk materials can be dangerous, either due to dust explosions or the presence of hazardous chemicals. It is important to take appropriate safety measures, including the use of sampling systems that minimize these risks.
A good practice in bulk sampling is to use a standardized method as specified in industry standards, as well as to carry out thorough quality assurance and control to ensure that sampling is carried out correctly.