Pneumatic Concentration

Jarman, Wallace
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 5
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1985
Introduction As with many gravity concentration processes, pneumatic concen¬tration traces its origin in antiquity. The use of winnowing to separate chaff from grain has long been known, and such procedures were undoubtedly practiced in ancient civilizations for the concentration of ores and the separation of slag from metal whenever specific gravity, size, and shape differences were favorable. Taggart142 has reported on the use of dry rockers and dry panning techniques for use with gold ores in arid regions such as Western Australia. The present day air table was developed in the last century for this purpose. Devices and Processes Classification. All classifiers make a separation on the basis of size, shape, and specific gravity. In addition to specific gravity and size, particle shape factor is often particularly important to pneumatic processes, and advantage is taken of the fact that both flat and fibrous particles settle at velocities substantially lower than that of their equiv¬alent spheres. Another factor of importance in this process is the bulk density of the material since substances such as exfoliated ver¬miculite or partially opened fibrils of asbestos have bulk densities significantly lower than those of the pure in situ mineral. Winnowing takes advantage of all of these physical factors to affect a separation starting with a closely sized feed, and vermiculite has been separated from rock by this process.142 When air classifiers are used to size minerals, the separation will often not be perfect because heavy particles will respond similarly to somewhat coarser light particles while flat, elongated, and low bulk density particles will act as would particles finer than the cut size. An example of a classification process that also results in concentration is the zig-zag classifier"' used to separate paper from glass, metal bottles, and cans during the recycle of municipal solid waste. Application of this process to minerals showing the proper specific gravity, size, and shape differ¬ences is obvious. An important device of this type is an air-aspirated screen used to remove asbestos from its associated rock during the dry processing of that mineral.144 The raw ore is crushed and screened and the asbes¬tos removed by aspiration from the surface of the screen by virtue of its shape and low bulk density. Hindered Settling. Based on the discussion in the section on "Hindered Settling Concentration and Jigging," the use of air devices could be anticipated in desert areas or where moisture may be deleteri¬ous to the product to be separated. Such processes have three major defects: (1) dust may be difficult to contain, (2) fines are difficult to process, and (3) the process is inherently less efficient than are wet processes as may be seen from Eqs. 3 and 4 in the section on "Hindered Settling Concentration and Jigging p. 4-47." Taggart142 has reported on the use of both dry panning and a dry rocker for gold separation in and regions. The dry panning makes use of winnowing, defection on the basis of specific gravity and shape during fall, and hindered settling. Prescreened placer material is poured from one pan to another as air blows across the falling stream. The process is repeated many times with hand picking to produce a rough concentrate. Magnetic minerals are then removed, and the residue, one grain deep in the pan, is air blown. In dry rocking the gravel is sized on a steeply inclined screen with the undersize fed to a riffle box with a porous bottom which is blown from underneath."' This device was the forerunner of the present-day air table. Air Tables and Jigs.145. 146 At least nine types of these devices have been developed, all but two of them for coal. While the devices used for coal may be characterized as pneumatic jigs, pneumatic tables, and pneumatic landers,145 only pneumatic jigs survive today. The same is true for ores.'" In these devices presized particles are fed to the separator which consists of an inclined vibrating conveyor with a porous surface through which air is carefully introduced to form a fluid bed. The lighter particles are lifted by the air out of uphill conveyance and float downhill, while the heavier particles in contact with the surface are conveyed uphill by the vibrator. Typically both transverse and longitudinal slopes are used. A plan view of a Triple S air table and the type of separation made is shown in Fig. 44.147 Because of its external appearance, the device has been called an air table, although it functions essentially as a jig. However, some of the asymetrical acceleration conveying function of a standard shak¬ing table is also performed by the eccentric vibrator incorporated into this device. Low pressure air is admitted below the vibrating table surface consisting of cloth (e.g., canvas), porous plastic, woven wire, or punched metal supported on a wire mesh or grid. As with a shaking table, the device produces a concentrate, middlings, and tailings. The middlings are recycled or are subsequently treated on another concentrating device. As with many wet separations, presizing by screening is necessary. The oft-repeated admonition of Professor Richards, "Separation without classification is damnation," is cer¬tainly true here. In this way a small heavy particle which might weigh the same as a large light particle and thus report to the same place on the air table has already been removed in the sizing step. Air tables are almost universally encased with a canopy to remove dust by aspiration. Some concentration may also be achieved in this step when favorable specific gravity, size, and shape differences are present. Applications Ore Separations. Air tables were originally developed for ore separations, and they find application in and regions or where water is deleterious or inconvenient to use or remove (e.g., small tonnage materials already dried). They have been used for asbestos, bauxite, calcite, cassiterite, columbite-tentalite, diatomaceous earth, fluorite, gilsonite, graphite, kyanite, manganese minerals, mica, managite, perlite, pyrite, pyrrhotite, vermiculite, and uraninite ores. More recently, air tables have found favor in separating a wide variety of secondary materials such as abrasive grains, bone char, catalysts, fiberglass, scrap glass, scrap wire from its insulation, prills from slag, dross and coke from metal or from each other, metal from crushed crucibles, lead from plastic in old batteries, and cubic particles from flat ones. The devices also finds considerable application in the preparation of food¬stuffs. As stated before close sizing before separation is desirable, and if the specific gravity difference is slight, very tight
Full Article Download:
(362 kb)