Fluid Energy Mills

Boyd, H.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 5
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1985
Fluid energy grinding, or jet pulverization, refers to the process of entraining solid particles in high velocity gaseous or vaporous streams and reducing their size by impact and attrition against other particles or some sort of target. Since all desired size reduction is not achieved in one pass through the zone where energy is applied, some form of classification is necessary to return oversize particles to the grinding zone for further size reduction. Applications Fluid energy mills have normally been used to produce products where the particle size is basically finer than 325 mesh. Products having particle size distributions with a maximum size of 4 or 5 µm, and with a high percentage finer than I µm, can be produced using fluid energy mills. More recently, some fluid energy grinding units have been applied economically to produce ground products with 1 or 2% coarser than 200 mesh. It is also possible to consider usage of a jet-pulverizing zone, without the usual integrated air classi¬fier, operated either in open circuit or in conjunction with a screen. Feed sizes to be delivered to the fluid energy mill depend on the material involved, the type of jet pulverizer used, the finished product size requirement, and the upstream process. In some units feed sizes up to l in. or larger can be accepted, but practical economics usually require the starting material to be -4 mesh or smaller and some pulverizers are typically fed at 20 mesh top size. It is not unusual to find feed materials at essentially -325 mesh when extremely fine products are needed, since capacities are improved with finer feeds. Conventionally the fluid energy grinding process has been used for relatively soft and nonabrasive materials. This includes very low¬melting-point and temperature-sensitive materials or coatings, since there is no measurable temperature rise during fluid energy milling. More recently, however, jet pulverizers are being used on highly abra¬sive materials such as silica, feldspar, glass, zircon, calcined alumina, coke, boron carbide, and similar materials. Since the primary energy application is by impact of particles against themselves, there is a low rate of wear resulting in a small amount of product contamination and in low maintenance costs. Usually the fluid energy pulverizer produces a more narrow particle size distribution than other mills provide, and this is useful where such a requirement exists. It is possible, within limits, to adjust classifi¬cation and other functions of the overall fluid energy system to vary the particle size distribution curve and thereby approach the broader distribution obtained from other grinding methods. By controlling the temperature, composition, and humidity of the fluid used, it is possible to incorporate other functions with the size-reduction process. These include drying or adding moisture, coating, mixing and blend¬ing, and even oxidation or reduction and other chemical reactions or their inhibition. The finished product is discharged in the fluid stream and is conveyed pneumatically to the desired point, where a suitable dust collector must be provided. Operation and Mechanical Features One of the earliest fluid energy mills is the Micronizer now manu¬factured by the Sturtevant Mill Co. Similar units are also manufac¬tured by Jet Pulverizer Co. and others. As shown in Fig. 81, the micronizer consists of a shallow circular grinding chamber with noz¬zles arranged at the outer periphery to discharge tangentially inward. Fluid (usually compressed air or superheated steam) is provided to the nozzles from a manifold at pressures normally in the range of 100-150 psig and at temperatures up to 800°F or higher, depending on the raw material, required results, and economic factors. The com¬pressible fluid expands to high velocity through the nozzles and gener¬ates a spiral flow pattern in the grinding chamber, and discharges
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