Part 3: Dry Particle Concentration

Arnold, Barbara J. ; Hervol, James D. ; Leonard, Josepph W. III
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 11
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1991
INTRODUCTION Dry concentration or pneumatic cleaning uses air currents as the separating medium. Pneumatic cleaning in the United States today is limited to three or four operations. In fact, the quantity of bituminous coal cleaned pneumatically has declined from its peak in 1965 of about 25.4 million tons (23.1 Mt) to its current level (1988) of less than 4 million tons (3.64 Mt) annually, as shown in Fig. 7-9 1. In 1940, pneumatic methods accounted for 15% of the bituminous coal and lignite cleaned in the United States as given in Table 7-32. Currently, pneumatic methods account for less than 2%. The largest air plant was built in Pennsylvania about 1968 with 14 units processing 1400 tph (1280 t/h) of 3/, in. X 0 (19 mm X 0) raw feed and two additional units retreating middlings. This same plant is one of only three or four plants still operating air-cleaning devices in the US. A wet plant was added in 1985 to increase the efficiency of cleaning the fines. The air plant is still used as a scalping operation for the coarse material. Five additional operations are either no longer in production or have discontinued the use of air tables within the last year. Wet cleaning methods are now being employed at the facilities that have discontinued air table operation. he advantage of dry cleaning techniques is the low moisture content of the clean coal product. However, to decrease respirable dust, mining operations must use water sprays on modem mining equipment. This water adds to the moisture content of the run-of-mine coal and decreases the effectiveness of dry cleaning processes that rely on low surface moistures in the feed to allow for good separations. Wet cleaning methods are preferred, especially since they also allow for much sharper separations. The advantage of dry cleaning techniques is the low moisture content of the clean coal product. However, to decrease respirable dust, mining operations must use water sprays on modem mining equipment. This water adds to the moisture content of the run-of-mine coal and decreases the effectiveness of dry cleaning processes that rely on low surface moistures in the feed to allow for good separations. Wet cleaning methods are preferred, especially since they also allow for much sharper separations. Despite dry concentration's drawbacks, research has continued into dry concentrating methods, including both electrostatic and magnetic separation techniques. The real application for future dry cleaning processes is probably at the power plant between the pulverizer and the boiler feed where particles are already dry and ground to fine sizes (- 200 mesh [ -0.075 mm]), increasing the effectiveness of the separation and also, possibly, increasing the liberation of clean coal from finely disseminated impurities. From a utility's viewpoint, pneumatic cleaning offers the best delivered Btu cost, based on the premise that a percent of moisture is just as detrimental as a percent of ash. Additionally, several other advantages are inherent in dry concentration techniques. The main advantage is that dry concentration re-
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