Laboratory Testing for Design of Thickener Circuit

Keane, Joseph M.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1986
Introduction The English word "sedimentation" is derived from the Latin verb "sedere" meaning to sink down. As a mineral processing unit operation, sedimenta¬tion has been defined as the separation of a suspension into a supernatant clear fluid and rather dense slurry containing a higher concentration of solid (Brown, G.G. 1960). Sedimen¬tation has been historically subdivided into thickening, which has the primary purpose of increasing the solids content of one of the thickener prod¬ucts relative to the feed stream, and clarification, which has the primary purpose of removing solids from the feed stream to produce a product essentially free from particu¬late matter. There is no absolutely precise distinction between these subdivisions and in certain applica¬tions, both objectives can be accom¬plished. Major Design Factors The capacity of conventional metal¬lurgical sedimentation devices is a function of slurry throughput and its attendant settling rate. Important factors, recognized by early investigators (Taggart, 1972), which influence the settling rate of a given metallur¬gical slurry include: Feed dilution or solids-liquid weight ratio Size and shape of the particulate solids Specific gravity differential between the solids and liquid phases Presence of electrolytes and/or flocculants Pulp viscosity Slurry temperature In addition to the foregoing histor¬ical factors, recent investigators have noted (Pearse, M.J., 1977) that other parameters which may have an influence upon settling rate and, thereby, thickener performance include: Method of flocculant application Particle size distribution Particulate wetting characteristics Feeding arrangements Rake speed and type Existence of convection currents Wind disturbance Evaporation All of the above factors should be examined and the effect upon thick¬ener performance brought about by manipulating the factor over the expected operating range should be determined if performance optimization is desired.
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