Expert System for Control of a Ferro-Nickel Kiln

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1996
Cerro Matoso (CMSA) in Colombia produces ferro-nickel from lateritic ore containing approximately three per cent nickel, using a Rotary Kiln - Electric Furnace (RKEF) process, in which the calcining of the mineral within the kiln is second in importance only to the smelting of the mineral in the Electrical Furnace. This article discusses the installation and operation of an expert system to control the kiln of CMSA. In the CMSA process, the run-of-mine ore is crushed, homogenised, dried and mixed with a small percentage of coal, before being heated up to 900¦C in a rotary kiln in the presence of natural gas mixed with air in a controlled proportion (air/gas constant ratio). The final objectives of the process are the following: ò To reduce to a minimum the iron and nickel oxides in order to convert these into metallic ions; this is a reduction process to facilitate largely the smelting in the electric furnace. Since the reduction is made with natural gas, it is much more economical than the subsequent complete reduction in the electric furnace, since electrical energy is much more expensive by unit of processed mineral. ò To heat the mineral as much as possible to facilitate the subsequent smelting. ò To eliminate totally the moisture content of the ore. An expert system with fuzzy logic was commissioned in 1994 for the control of the kiln and it has operated with good results ever since.
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