Six twin-shaft batch mixers of type DKX 6.0 delivered by BHS-Sonthofen are producing the concrete needed to build the main embankment of the Dagu hydro dam undergoing construction near the Tibetan city of Zangmu. The construction site is located 12,000 feet above sea level, making this the most elevated site ever for employing mixers from BHS. BHS-Sonthofen specially modified the mixers to meet the challenges they are facing at this extreme altitude.

The first two mixers of type DKX 6.0 started producing the first batches of concrete on July 12. 2017. Two months later, Sinohydro No. 9 Engineering Company commissioned four more units. The mixers will produce about 3 million tons of roller-compacted concrete (RCC) over the course of the dam’s construction, which is scheduled for completion in 2019. The complete facility, which comprises six mixers, is dimensioned to produce 209,000 cubic yards of hardened concrete per month.

The mixers are equipped with a coarse-grain mixing unit for processing grain sizes up to 6 1/4 inches, as is typical in hydro dam construction. This mixer type has proven its worth in numerous installations across the globe.

About 8 yards of hardened concrete are discharged per batch at a rate of up to 48 cycles per hour, resulting in a total yield of up to 377 cubic yards of hardened concrete in one hour. The cycle times are short due to the intensive mixing of the concrete and the extra-large rotary valves at the underside of the mixing trough, which significantly speed up the discharge process.

Given the vast amount of concrete that needs to be processed, BHS-Sonthofen reinforced the mixing troughs with a tougher version of its 1.1-inch ‘Optilong’ wear tiles. The service life of these tiles is nearly twice as long as the diamond-shaped tiles commonly used in construction projects. The variable hardness of the individual tile rows ensures uniform abrasion across all wear zones.

BHS-Sonthofen even accounted for the remote location of the construction site: In order to prepare the machines for a potentially unstable grid, the company used special motor couplings. The hydrodynamic turbo couplings reduce mechanical as well as electrical load peaks. Thanks to this property, they have proven ideal for use in locations with critical grid fluctuations. Also, since high-altitude air does not extract as much heat from the electric motors, BHS-Sonthofen equipped the mixers with special motors that feature type ‘H’ insulation.

The sheer remoteness of the construction site posed yet another challenge. The construction site in Tibet is almost 2,500 miles from Tianjin near Beijing, which is where BHS-Sonthofen’s Chinese subsidiary is situated. It took 20 days to transport the mixers across this distance.

Once completed, the Dagu dam will be 413 feet tall with a dam crest measuring 1,263 feet. The power plant will generate 640 MW of hydro energy.

The dam is part of a major project undertaken by the Chinese government to provide the eastern parts of the Tibetan Autonomous Region with electricity, all the way to remote villages. Multiple hydro dams are damming up the Yarlung Tsangpo, the Earth’s highest river. It crosses Tibet from west to east and continues through India, where it is called Brahmaputra.

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