Centrifugal Specific Gravity Separators

Miller, F. G. ; DeMull, T. J. Jr. ; Matoney, J. P.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 12
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1985
For some time a need had existed in the minerals processing field for a relatively efficient separator that would treat high tonnages of particles in the intermediate size range, i.e., those particles too large for froth flotation and too small for conventional gravity-type separa¬tors. Among those devices developed to meet this need are the centrifu¬gal specific gravity separators. These devices employ centrifugal acceleration to assist gravitational acceleration in separating light¬density minerals from heavy-density minerals. In the category of centrifugal specific gravity separators are the heavy-media centrifugal separator and the water-only cyclone. The two major centrifugal heavy-media separators, i.e., the heavy-media cyclone and the DynaWhirlpool, as well as the water-only cyclone, are discussed in terms of: design features, operating variables, operat¬ing data, and flowsheet design criteria. Examples of plant applications are given in the field of coal processing as well as the processing of other minerals such as iron ores, potash, and tin. Finally, the subject of the staging of centrifugal separators and their use in combination with other separators is discussed. PRINCIPLES For coarse sizes of minerals, efficient specific gravity separations have been possible for many years with open-bath vessels using the natural settling velocity or buoyancy of the particles. These bath ves¬sels process ore by utilizing micron-size solid particles suspended in the slurry fed to the separator. The inclusion of these particles in the slurry increases the effective density of the separating fluid to allow particle separations to be made at densities greater than that of water. However, if vessel size is to remain within economical limits, the particles processed in the bath vessel must have high settling rates in a IG gravitational field. Because of this requirement, heavy¬medium bath vessels are usually restricted to processing +V4-in. sizes. To extend efficient specific gravity separation to smaller sizes, the gravitational acceleration of particles is replaced by centrifugal acceleration. The settling of a small particle in a fluid in a centrifugal force field is similar to that found in a static bath except that the acceleration due to gravity, g, is replaced by a centrifugal acceleration where v, is the tangential velocity at radius r: V=kdm(P-P,), V'. (J) µ In more practical terms where the particles settle in a suspension of finer particles comprising the heavy media and with an effective suspension density p" V = kdm' (P P ) . v'. (2) U r To date the most effective use of this principle has been obtained with devices that rotate a liquid or suspension within a stationary enclosure in order to create centrifugal force. Cyclones are the most common devices used for this purpose, because they generate centrifu¬gal forces far greater than the force of gravity and therefore not only have high capacities but can treat finer sizes than bath-type vessels can. The two main types of cyclones used by industry are the heavy-media cyclone and the water-only cyclone. Also quite widely used is the DynaWhirlpool, which, though based on the same princi¬ple, differs in design from the conventional cyclone. HEAVY-MEDIA CENTRIFUGAL SEPARATORS Like the bath vessels, the heavy-media centrifugal separators em¬ploy media composed of micron-size particles suspended in water. However, the centrifugal force generated in these separators accentu¬ates the difference in settling rate between particles of different density and thus makes possible separations of finer size particles than can be treated in bath vessels. The two most common heavy-media centri¬fugal separators are the heavy-media cyclone and the DynaWhirlpool. Heavy-Media Cyclone Although cyclones were originally developed for use as classifiers or thickeners, it was later found that they could also effectively serve as heavy-media separators.63. 64, Design Features Fig. I I is a schematic of a typical cyclone developed to serve for any one of the following purposes: as a classifier, thickener, or specific gravity separator. The cyclone consists of a cylindrical section joined to a conical section, usually having an included angle of between 14° and 25°. Feed enters the cyclone tangentially through an orifice attached to the cylindrical section. The overflow orifice is located in the base plate of the cylindrical section. The vortex finder, a tube attached to the overflow orifice, extends into the cyclone from the base plate of the cylindrical section. The underflow orifice is located at the apex of the conical section. As some medium together with mineral particles is fed through the feed orifice, a vortex with a hollow air core extending from the overflow to the underflow orifice forms in the cyclone while hollow spray discharges form at each of these orifices. Under the influence of the centrifugal force, high specific-gravity particles move through the medium to the wall of the cyclone and descend in a spiral flow pattern to the underflow orifice. Those particles in the feed stream, lower in specific gravity than the feed medium, follow the major portion of the flow to the center of the core where they are caught in the high-velocity upward central current and are carried out through the overflow orifice. Fig. 12 shows a family of curves that illustrates how materials of varying specific gravity are recovered by a cyclone. Since the specific gravity of the medium is 1.40, the particles of 1.40 sp gr actually act as part of the medium and, regardless of the particle size, split between the underflow and overflow of the cyclone in proportion to the volume split of the medium. Particles higher in specific gravity than 1.40 are recovered in the underflow of the cyclone at increasing rates as the difference in specific gravity increases and the particle size increases. Particles lower than 1.40 in specific gravity are dis¬charged through the overflow orifice at increasing rates as the specific¬gravity difference increases and the particle size increases. However, all the curves originate at the fluid-flow ratio point for the finest particles of any gravity. The fluid-flow ratio is defined as the ratio of the rate of fluid flowing from the underflow to the rate of fluid
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