Thickening, Filtering, Drying

Dahlstrom, D. A. ; Fitch, E. B.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 49
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1985
Liquid-solids separation is common to practically all mineral and coal processing as the bulk of beneficiation plants employ water as the major processing vehicle. The growing usage of hydrometallurgy has increased the importance of liquid-solid separation as acidic and basic solutions result in greater amounts of colloidal solids, with their consequent greater difficulty of separation, the economic need for chemical recovery to minimize this operating cost, and the usual necessity of employing more costly construction materials. The three processing steps covered in this section have significant capital costs. Drying, particularly, has an important operating cost because of the obvious need for energy to evaporate the water or solvent. Several common factors influence all three liquid-solid separation steps. Particle Size and Size Distribution. In general, finer particles have slower settling and filtration rates. The specific surface area is increased, which means a lower solids concentration in the thickener underflow and discharged filter cake as well as a grater moisture content to be evaporated in the drying step. Therefore, overgrinding or excessive attrition should be avoided. Consideration should be given to optimum particle size consistent with entire plant operation performance and recovery. Solids Concentration. Increased feed solids concentration will generally minimize required equipment size and costs in all three liquid-solid separation steps. Most thickeners are designed on the basis of unit area required, expressed as square feet per short ton of dry solids per day (square meters per metric ton per day) which will usually decrease with increased feed solids concentration. Filtration rates also increase as the required flow through the capillaries of the filter cake decreases. Dryer capacity increases and less energy per ton of final product is required to evaporate the associated moisture. Particle Shape and Surface Characteristics. Generally, optimum shape is a spherical particle of zero porosity. As either of these factors degrade away from the desired state, difficulty increases. This is particularly true in drying, where porosity can decrease drying rate significantly if the moisture must first reach the particle surface by diffusion
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