How Pneumatic Conveying Elbows Can Reduce Friability in Grain Materials

Friability is a term used to describe how easily solid objects break down into smaller pieces when placed under duress, especially as a result of impact or rubbing. However, due to the nature of how materials travel through a pneumatic conveying system, the risk of friability is always present. 

This friability poses a challenge to the grain industry that uses ‘clean side’ material, as damaged corn, wheat, rice, and others cannot be sold if they are damaged during the pneumatic conveying process. 

Thankfully, there are ways that you can reduce the friability of grains within such systems. Let’s take a look at some of them.


Longer Elbows

One of the biggest factors of how friable grain and other materials break down in your system is based on the type of elbows in use. Avoiding impact within the system is impossible, but it can be minimized with longer-radius elbows.

Compared to long-radius elbows, short-radius elbows have sharper angles that put more pressure on one part of the elbow, creating greater impact and causing the grain to break down faster. 

Long-radius elbows are recommended because their extended angles are smoother, allowing the grain to follow the path of least resistance and reducing the chance of material breakage.


Specialty Elbows

While longer elbows are a good start, there are also specialty elbows that go a step further. Flat-back elbows and PPI’s Ceram-Back® brand elbows are specifically designed and manufactured for highly abrasive applications and work well for friable materials like those found in the grain industry.

Both flat-back and Ceram-Back® elbows work by featuring a long pipe or tube for the inner core substrate that lessons the wear caused by the sudden outlet transition common to shorter elbows, making them both abrasion and impact resistant. The Ceram-Back® elbow also incorporates a 1/2-inch hard ceramic compound along its length to provide excellent protection against the sliding abrasion that causes the grain to break apart.

In addition to handling highly abrasive products like metals, chemicals, and composite products for heavy industry, both of these specialty elbows are extremely durable. They do not need to be changed frequently and are more than up for the challenges of bulk material handling within the grain industry.


Friability is an essential factor to consider when designing a pneumatic conveying system for the grain industry. Using longer, flat-back, and Ceram-Back® elbows in your system can reduce friability and increase the value of the material that makes it through the system.

Even with these handy tips, one size does not fit all within the pneumatic conveying industry. At Progressive Products, Inc., we believe in finding the right solution for each unique situation and have over 40 years of experience helping people like you get what they need. Contact us, and we’ll be happy to help you find the right solution.

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