How to avoid building a full- scale pilot plant by predicting and eliminating solids handling problems

Johanson, Jerry R.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1990
Introduction Many solids processes that look feasible on paper or even in pilot studies become disasters in full scale. Changes in solids flow characteristics from pilot scale to full scale be- cause of larger solids contact pressures, thermal shocks, or unforeseen temperature excursions often cause full-scale solids flow problems not encountered in the laboratory or pilot studies. Fortunately, proper applications of solids flow principals and solids flow properties measurement at full scale conditions can anticipate the problems and thus provide an accurate basis for full-scale design or existing plant modifications. Solids flow properties The basic solids flow property definitions are given in Table 1 (Johanson, 1966, 1976, 1978, 1985). In this section, the author will discuss each property and its potential for creating full-scale pilot plants. Unconfined yield strength The unconfined yield strength of a bulk solid determines the tendency for cohesive hangups of the solids in the process and is effected by the time at rest, chemical reactions, temperature, liquid content, solids size consist, and phase changes of solids or fluids involved in the process. One of the common mistakes is to consider the solids condition only at the beginning and the end of the process. For example, consider the direct reduction of iron ore. The feed solids are free-flowing, hard lump ore or pellets. The end result is a hard, free-flowing reduced sponge iron lump or pellet. One might conclude that the process involves free-flowing lumps. This conclusion may seem reasonable based on laboratory studies oreven pilot plant studies where solids contact pressures are very low. Unfortunately, during the reduction reactions at high temperatures, the rock or pellets soften and, with solids contact pressures associated with the full-scale plant, may fuse together, thus providing a possible solids hangup in the moving bed reactor not evident in the low pressure pilot scale. Fig. 1 shows some typical unconfined yield strength measurements for pellets as a function of solids contact pressure at various times at rest. Note at low consolidation pressures, generally associated with laboratory or pilot plant studies, the pellets show no strength unless held at rest for an extended time. This will produce a very free-flowing condition in pilot plants that will not exist in the full size reactor.
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