Zebratube®, a South African manufacturer of geotextile dewatering bags, offer a flexible and cost-effective alternative to conventional dewatering methods. Earlier this month the company hosted a factory open day at their Carletonville facility, offering customers a glimpse into their manufacturing process.
Zebratube® was founded in 2015, when underground backfill bag manufacturer Stitchwise and geotextile producer Spilo recognised the opportunity for geotextile dewatering tubes to be utilised for surface dewatering applications. They subsequently joined forces to form Zebratube®.
“Since its founding, Zebratube® has served various industries in offering alternative dewatering solutions. From the dredging and desilting of ponds at wastewater treatment plants to continuous dewatering of liquid waste at food processing facilities” says Vincent Prior, managing director of Zebratube®. “In addition to supplying the South African market, we now also have distributors and agents in Zambia, Botswana, DRC and Australia, enabling us to export our proudly South African dewatering products”, he adds.
During the factory open day, Carien Spagnuolo, Zebratube® general manager, presents to attendees case studies of some key applications of their dewatering tubes. These include the recovery of valuable magnetite pumped from a sump at a coal processing plant, yielding only 10.7% moisture in the dewatered material after 1 week of standing time and allowing for re-use in the process. The dewatering tubes can also be used to dewater and contain tailings, an innovative alternative to wet tailings management. Dry tailings storage eliminates the risk of tailings dam failure and the stackability of Zebratube®’s geotextile dewatering tubes reduces the footprint of the storage facility. Geotextile dewatering tubes offer rapid dewatering of large slurry volumes within a short period and the ability to scale the dewatering process easily in line with production requirements.
Mike Ogden, managing director of Spilo and director at Zebratube®, provides an overview of the geotextile manufacturing process: “Polypropylene, additives and other chemicals needed for the polymer extrusion process are sourced from our local petrochemical industry. We extrude polypropylene tapes from this process and weave them into geotextiles with different strengths and dewatering characteristics at our facility in Paarl. The geotextiles are then sent up to the Carletonville factory in rolls, where they are stitched into bags”, he explains.
“This is our strength. We have control of the whole manufacturing process and each stage goes through an extensive range of tests to determine suitability for purpose: we test the tensile strength of strands from every batch of an extrusion before it is woven. We then retest every roll of woven fabric for strength and permeability after weaving”, Ogden adds.
Prior and Spagnuolo take the group of customers on a tour through their facility, highlighting the quality control and traceability throughout each step of the manufacturing process.
“Our complete control over the entire process allows for unparalleled design flexibility and speed of delivery”, says Prior.
In their on-site laboratory, Spagnuolo demonstrates the utilisation of a flocculant to agglomerate particles, allowing the retention of fines by the woven geotextile and increased dewatering efficiency.
“Through our ZebraFloc® brand we offer a wide range of powder, emulsion and liquid flocculants and coagulants to aid in filtration when using our geotextile dewatering bags, where required”, says Spagnuolo. She adds that they also offer testwork services to their customers, including particle size distribution analysis and flocculant screening in conjunction with their geotextiles in order to ensure optimum dewatering efficiency. “We also conduct on-site pilot trials where required, to determine the drainage rate, filtrate quality and moisture content of the dewatered solids under real-time site conditions”, says Spagnuolo.
This proudly South African business prides themselves on their ability to service their customers with rapid delivery, in-house engineering support, customised design and technical guidance throughout each project’s entire life-cycle.