Screw conveyors were used as low height lift pump to irrigate the lands. It comprises of an inclined rotating casing with an internal helical screw thread, called flight. When such a casing is rotated with its lower end submerged in water, the water entrained in the pockets, formed by the pitches, is raised. The performance of such screws is limited by the angle of inclination of the casing. A modified version of such screws have been tried with a rotating shaft having helical screw thread moving inside a stationery casing for lifting fluids like sewage sludge. But due to various limitations the process achieved limited success in the field of transportation of liquid. However when a rotating screw shaft in a stationery casing is used to convey solids, it has commendable success.
Floor mill industry was probably the first to employ horizontal screw conveyor to convey corn and flour. These screws were made by fitted wood blades to a central shaft rotating inside a cylindrical casing. Even now such screw conveyors enjoy popularity in agro based industries, handling grains and flours, because of low friction, negligible cohesive strength of the material.
A screw conveyor consists essentially of a shaft mounted screw rotating in a trough and a drive unit for running the shaft. The material is moved forward along the axis of the trough by the thrust of screw thread or flight. The trough is usually of the U-shape.
A helical blade is attached to a drive shaft which is coupled to a drive unit. The shaft is supported by two end bearings and intermediate bearings. The U-shaped trough has a cover plate with an opening for loading the conveyor. A discharge opening is provided at the bottom of the trough. The loading and discharging points can be located anywhere along the trough. More than one feed hopper and discharge hopper may be fitted according to the necessity.
The principle of material movement along the trough is similar to the sliding motion of a nut along a rotating screw when the nut is not allowed to rotate. The weight of the material and the friction of the material against the wall prevent the load from rotating with the screw.