A screw conveyor or auger conveyor is a mechanism that uses a rotating helical screw blade, called a “flighting“, usually within a tube, to move liquid or granular materials. They are used in many bulk handling industries. Screw conveyors in modern industry are often used horizontally or at a slight incline as an efficient way to move semi-solid materials, including food waste, wood chips, aggregates, cereal grains, animal feed, boiler ash, meat and bone meal, municipal solid waste, and many others. The first type of screw conveyor was the Archimedes’ screw, used since ancient times to pump irrigation water.
They usually consist of a trough or tube containing either a spiral blade coiled around a shaft, driven at one end and held at the other, or a “shaftless spiral“, driven at one end and free at the other. The rate of volume transfer is proportional to the rotation rate of the shaft. In industrial control applications the device is often used as a variable rate feeder by varying the rotation rate of the shaft to deliver a measured rate or quantity of material into a process.
A flexible screw conveyor works by using the internal friction within a powder or bulk solid to transfer the forward motion of the powder in contact with the spiral to the whole tube contents. With an angled system, a dynamic equilibrium is set up with the spiral action moving some particles upwards.
Screw conveyors can be operated with the flow of material inclined upward. When space allows, this is a very economical method of elevating and conveying. As the angle of inclination increases, the capacity of a given unit rapidly decreases.
The rotating part of the conveyor is sometimes called simply an auger.