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EFFECT OF OPERATIONAL VARIABLES ON BALL

MILLING

Daniel Mendona Francioli

Projeto de Graduao apresentado ao Curso de


Engenharia de Materiais

da Escola

Politcnica,

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, como parte


dos requisitos necessrios obteno do ttulo de
Engenheiro de Materiais.

Orientador:

Prof. Lus Marcelo Marques Tavares

Coorientador: Prof. Rodrigo Magalhes de Carvalho

Rio de Janeiro
EFFECT OF OPERACIONAL VARIABLES ON BALL MILLING
Fevereiro de 2015

ii

Francioli, Daniel Mendona


Effect of operational variables on ball milling/ Daniel Mendona
Francioli. Rio de Janeiro: UFRJ/ Escola Politcnica, 2015.
XVIII, 72, p.: il.; 29,7 cm.
Orientador: Lus Marcelo Marques Tavares
Coorientador: Rodrigo Magalhes de Carvalho
Projeto de Graduao UFRJ/ Escola Politcnica/ Curso de
Engenharia de Materiais, 2015.
Referncias Bibliogrficas: p. 68-71.
1. Comminution. 2. Energy efficiency. 3. Ball milling. I. Tavares,
Lus Marcelo Marques e Carvalho, Rodrigo Magalhes de. II.
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Escola Politcnica,
Curso de Engenharia de Materiais. III. Effect of operational
variables on ball milling.

iii

In a gentle way, you can shake the world.


Mahatma Gandhi
iv

To my parents, family and friends.


v

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the following persons for helping me during my undergraduate
degree.

My family, Marco, Rachel, Andr, Brenno, Ignez and Nylson, for their
encouragement, advice and friendship throughout all my life.

My girlfriend Rita, for her support and patience during these last months and
also for her loving care.

My group of friends, Friends Metalmat, for affording great unforgettable


laughs along our undergraduate study years.

My advisors, Professors Luis Marcelo Tavares and Rodrigo Carvalho, for


their constant support, advice and suggestions. I am extremely grateful to
consider them not only as advisors but also as great friends.

LTM undergraduate and postgraduate students, for their support and


incredible knowledge exchange.

LTM staff, for their crucial support during experimental work.

Professor Malcolm Powell and Research Fellow Dr. Mohsen Yahyaei, from
JKMRC/UQ, for their enduring advice and invaluable encouragement.

Pedra Sul Minerao Ltda, for providing the samples for the experimental
work.

Fundao Coppetec and ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe, for the financial


support.

CNPq (Brazilian Research Agency), for providing financial support during the
Science without Borders Program.

And every other person without whom this project would not be possible.

vi

Resumo do Projeto de Graduao apresentado Escola Politcnica/ UFRJ como


parte dos requisitos necessrios para obteno do grau de Engenheiro de Materiais.

EFEITO DAS VARIVEIS OPERACIONAIS NA MOAGEM


Daniel Mendona Francioli
Fevereiro/ 2015

Orientador:

Lus Marcelo Marques Tavares

Coorientador: Rodrigo Magalhes de Carvalho

Curso: Engenharia de Materiais


Moinhos de bolas so equipamentos de cominuio usados na indstria mineral em
larga escala. Contudo, apesar da enorme aplicabilidade, moinhos de bolas so
considerados equipamentos de baixa eficincia energtica. Testes laboratoriais com
utilizao de moinhos tubulares em batelada tm sido fundamentais para um melhor
entendimento da influncia das variveis que afetam seu desempenho. Esses
testes, aliados a ferramentas adequadas de anlise, permitem elucidar os efeitos
das diversas variveis bem como fornecer subsdios para otimizar a sua operao. A
anlise conjunta dos resultados dos experimentos e de simulaes computacionais
usando o mtodo dos elementos discretos (DEM) forma a base para a validao e
calibrao do modelo matemtico mecanicista desenvolvido no Laboratrio de
Tecnologia Mineral da COPPE/UFRJ.
O presente trabalho consistiu na realizao de experimentos em um moinho de
dimenses 30 x 30 cm de modo que variveis operacionais foram alteradas,
gerando mudanas na granulometria final do minrio assim como na energia
consumida.
A anlise dos resultados mostrou que h melhora na eficincia energtica do
processo com aumento do tamanho dos corpos moedores e graus intermedirios de
enchimento do moinho e porcentagem de slidos. A utilizao do DEM atravs do
software EDEM possibilitou uma melhor anlise do movimento da carga dentro do
vii

moinho. Ainda assim, para que os resultados simulados atinjam total confiabilidade
ainda necessrio um profundo entendimento sobre qual a real contribuio de
finos de minrio tanto no movimento da carga quanto na potncia.
O modelo mecanicista da UFRJ mostrou excelente concordncia com dados
experimentais relacionados quebra de partculas grossas de minrio quando
corpos moedores de 40 mm foram utilizados. Contudo, o prprio modelo ou os
parmetros especficos relacionados ao minrio ainda necessitam de ajustes para
que seja possvel fazer predies da cominuio de finos.

Palavras-chave: cominuio, eficincia energtica, moagem

viii

Abstract of Undergraduate Project presented to POLI/UFRJ as a partial fulfillment of


the requirements for degree of Materials Engineer.

EFFECT OF OPERATIONAL VARIABLES ON BALL MILLING


Daniel Mendona Francioli
February/ 2015

Advisors:

Lus Marcelo Marques Tavares


Rodrigo Magalhes de Carvalho

Course: Materials Engineering (BEng)


Ball mills have large applicability in the mining industry. At the same time, ball mills
are considered as low efficient equipment. Laboratory tests using tumbling mills for
batch grinding have been crucial to a better understanding of the variables that affect
their development. These tests, when allied to adequate analysis tools, are able to
elucidate all effects from operational variables on ball milling and also provide
information for their operation optimization. The combined analyses of experimental
data with computational simulations using the discrete element method (DEM) forms
a challenge basis for the validation and calibration of the mechanistic model
developed at the Laboratrio de Tecnologia Mineral (LTM) from COPPE/UFRJ.
This work consisted on experimental batch grinding tests with a 30 x 30 cm ball mill
in which operational variables were altered. The change of these parameters
resulted in direct variation on the final product size as well as on the average power
consumption.
Therefore, it was possible to verify enhanced process efficiency for bigger grinding
media and intermediate degree of both mil filling and percentage of solids. The use
of DEM through the software EDEM provided an outstanding tool for analyzing
charge movement inside ball mills. However, in order to achieve absolute trust in the
results from the simulations, it is still necessary a sophisticated understanding of the
actual contribution of the fine ore both on the charge movement and on the power
consumed during the milling process.

ix

The UFRJ mechanistic model showed excellent agreement with experimental data
regarding the breakage of coarse particles when steel balls of 40 mm were used.
Nonetheless, either the model itself or the specific parameters used, which are
related to the ore, still needs adjustments, which aim at improving the prediction on
the breakage of intermediate and fine particles.

Keywords: Comminution, energy efficiency, ball milling.

Table of Contents
Acknowledgments ....................................................................................................... vi
List of Figures ........................................................................................................... xiii
List of Tables ............................................................................................................ xvii
Nomenclature ........................................................................................................... xviii
1.

Introduction ........................................................................................................... 1

2.

Objective ............................................................................................................... 4

3.

Review of the literature ......................................................................................... 5


3.1.

Comminution .................................................................................................. 5

3.2.

Comminution laws .......................................................................................... 6

3.2.1.

Size specific energy (SSE) as a measure of energy efficiency ................... 9

3.3.

Particle breakage mechanisms .................................................................... 10

3.4.

Grinding ........................................................................................................ 12

3.4.1.
3.5.

4.

Power in ball mills ...................................................................................... 14


Comminution modeling ................................................................................. 18

3.5.1.

Discrete element method (DEM) ............................................................... 20

3.5.2.

UFRJ mechanistic model overview ........................................................... 22

Materials and methods ....................................................................................... 25


4.1.

Batch grinding............................................................................................... 25

4.1.1.

Measurements ........................................................................................... 28

4.1.1.1.
4.1.2.

Size analyses ............................................................................................ 30

4.1.3.

Experimental method................................................................................. 34

4.1.4.

Experimental repeatability ......................................................................... 36

4.2.
5.

Different mill design ................................................................................ 30

Simulation software (EDEM & LTM Analyst) .............................................. 37

Results and discussion ....................................................................................... 41


5.1.

Batch grinding............................................................................................... 41

5.1.1.

Power ........................................................................................................ 41

5.1.2.

Particle size distribution ............................................................................. 46

5.1.3.

Fines generated and grindability ............................................................... 50

5.1.4.

Effect of mill internal design....................................................................... 55

5.2.
5.2.1.

Simulation ..................................................................................................... 56
Power calculated from DEM simulations ................................................... 56
xi

5.3.

Comparison between experimental and simulated data .............................. 60

5.3.1.

UFRJ mechanistic model (Particle breakage) ........................................... 60

5.3.2.

DEM (Power) ............................................................................................. 62

6.

Conclusions ........................................................................................................ 65

7.

Future work ......................................................................................................... 67

8.

References ......................................................................................................... 68

9.

Appendix A power comparison ........................................................................ 72

xii

List of Figures
Figure 3-1: Rittinger, Kick and Bond applicability regions. Adapted from Hukki (1962).
.............................................................................................................................. 8
Figure 3-2: Comminution energy efficiency calculated using ratio between operating
and Bond work indices: unfilled data points from Morrell (2004) and filled points
from Ballantyne et al. (2014)............................................................................... 10
Figure 3-3: Different types of stress application mechanisms inside comminution
equipment. Bigger balls circles grinding media and smaller ones representing
ore particle. Adapted from Chieregati (2001)...................................................... 11
Figure 3-4: a) Shattering process; b) Fracture by cleavage. Adapted from King
(2001). ................................................................................................................ 11
Figure 3-5: Surface fragmentation (chipping and abrasion). Adapted from King
(2001). ................................................................................................................ 12
Figure 3-6: Examples of movement of the media inside a ball mill simulated using
DEM: centrifuge (left), cataract (middle) and cascade (right). ............................ 13
Figure 3-7: Influence of % of critical speed (top) and % of mill filling (bottom) on
power consumption. Gray area indicates the usual range used in the industry.
Adapted from Kelly and Spottiswood (1982). ..................................................... 15
Figure 3-8: Illustration of the torque required to turn a mill. Adapted from King (2001).
............................................................................................................................ 16
Figure 3-9: Schematic illustration of a tumbling mill................................................... 17
Figure 3-11: Schematic diagram of the collision event of the mechanistic model
(Tavares and Carvalho, 2009). ........................................................................... 23
Figure 3-12: Schematic illustration of the input information for the mechanistic model
(Tavares, 2015). ................................................................................................. 24
Figure 4-1: Laboratory ball mill settings. .................................................................... 28
Figure 4-2: 3-D model of the 30x30 cm laboratory ball mill (left) and the lifter profile
(right). ................................................................................................................. 29
Figure 4-3: Typical data extracted from the torque sensor. ....................................... 29
xiii

Figure 4-4: Mill design 1 (bigger lifters) and mill design 2 (smaller lifters). ................ 30
Figure 4-5: Ro-tap sieving equipment. ..................................................................... 32
Figure 4-6: Sympatec equipment installed at LTM facilities. .................................... 33
Figure 4-7: Distributions resulted from Sympatec software program. ...................... 34
Figure 4-8: Experimental procedure. ......................................................................... 35
Figure 4-9: Different size analysis techniques for 1 minute grinding depending on the
size interval of the particles. ............................................................................... 35
Figure 4-10: Size analyses of duplicate cases using different ball size: 15 mm (top
left), 25 mm (top right), 40 mm (bottom left) and distribution (bottom right). ...... 36
Figure 4-11: Breakage rate of 8 mm size class (left) and variation of power with time
(right) of duplicate tests. ..................................................................................... 37
Figure 4-12: Snapshot of EDEM simulation where balls are colored by their kinetic
velocity (J=30%, c=75% and db=25 mm). ........................................................ 39
Figure 4-13: Power draw of the ball mill (J=30%, c=75% and db=25 mm). ............. 40
Figure 4-14: Velocity profile (left) and particle frequency (right), (J=30%, c=75% and
db=25 mm). ......................................................................................................... 40
Figure 5-1: Variation of power with time for tests with different ball sizes: Dry (left)
and wet (right). (J=30%, c=75% and U=100%). ............................................... 42
Figure 5-2: Effect of mill filling on power consumption (c=75% and U=100%). ....... 43
Figure 5-3: Variation of power with grinding time for different percentage of the
critical speed (J=30%, U=100% and db=25 mm). ............................................... 44
Figure 5-4: Variation of power with percentage of critical speed for different powder
fillings (J=30%, c=75% and db=25 mm). .......................................................... 45
Figure 5-5: Effect of 100% powder filling on power for different mill filling
percentages. Ball size: 15 mm (left) and 40 mm (right). ..................................... 45
Figure 5-6: Size analyzes of each batch grinding step (J=30%, U=100% and
c=75%). Top-left: db=15 mm log-log scale; bottom-left: db=15 mm semi-log

xiv

scale; Top-right: db=40 mm log-log scale; bottom-right: db=40 mm semi-log


scale. .................................................................................................................. 47
Figure 5-7: Size distribution after 10 minutes of grinding using different ball sizes
(J=30%, U=100% and c=75%). ........................................................................ 48
Figure 5-8: Product size after five minutes grinding using db=15 mm (left) and db=40
mm (right). (J=30%, U=100%, c=75%)............................................................. 49
Figure 5-9: Effect of powder filling (left) and mill filling (right) on size distribution after
ten minutes grinding using 25 mm balls (left) and ball distribution (right). .......... 49
Figure 5-10: Effect of rotational speed on size distribution after ten minutes grinding
using U=80% (left), U=100% (middle) and U=120% (right) (db=25 mm and
J=30%). .............................................................................................................. 50
Figure 5-11: Graphic representation of productivity and grindbility calculations of
cases 20 - 22. ..................................................................................................... 51
Figure 5-12: Charge (balls) frequency extracted from LTM Analyst showing different
impact zone caused by different speed: c= 85% (left) and c= 67.5 (right). .... 51
Figure 5-13: Effect of ball size and percentage of solids on grinding efficiency. Dry
data is the average of duplicate cases (J=30%, U=100% and c=75%). .......... 54
Figure 5-14: Effect of ball size and mill filling on grinding efficiency (U=100% and
c=75%). ............................................................................................................ 54
Figure 5-15: Effect of mill design on grinding efficiency (J=30%, db=25 mm and
c=75%). ............................................................................................................ 55
Figure 5-16: Effect of percentage of critical speed on power from simulation using
different contact parameters. (J=30% and db=25 mm). ...................................... 57
Figure 5-17: Effect of ball size and mill filling on power from simulation using different
contact parameters. ............................................................................................ 57
Figure 5-18: Collision energy spectra of balls-balls (left) and balls-liner (right) pairs
with different mill filling percentage (db=40 mm and c=75%)............................ 58
Figure 5-19: Collision energy spectra of balls-balls (left) and balls-liner (right) pairs
with different ball sizes (J=20% and c=75%). ................................................... 58

xv

Figure 5-20: Particle frequency profiles extracted from LTMAnalyst showing different
charge movement caused by different ball sizes: 15 mm (left), 25 mm (middle)
and 40 mm (right). .............................................................................................. 59
Figure 5-21: Particle frequency profiles extracted from LTMAnalyst showing different
charge movement behavior obtained from different mill designs running at same
operational conditions: Mill design 1 (left) and Mill design 2 (right) (J=30%, db=25
mm and c=75%). .............................................................................................. 59
Figure 5-22: UFRJ mechanistic model predictions for different mill filling: J=30% (left)
and J=40% (right). (U=100%, db=40 mm and c=75%). .................................... 61
Figure 5-23: UFRJ mechanistic model predictions for smaller ball sizes: db=15 mm
(left) and db=25 mm (right). (U=100%, J=30% and c=75%). ............................ 61
Figure 5-24: Comparison between disappearance of top size class from simulation
and experimental data. ....................................................................................... 62
Figure 5-25: Comparison of the charge movement: experimental (left), simulation
using EDEM and post-processing using LTM Analyst (J=30%, c=75% , db=25
mm and for the experimental case, U=100%). .................................................. 63
Figure 5-26: Power consumption for different percentage of mill filling (db=25 mm,
c=75% and experimental data with U=100%). ................................................. 64
Figure 5-27: Comparison between simulated and experimental power consumption
(J=30%, db=25 mm and U=100%). ..................................................................... 64
Figure 7-1: Particle frequency extracted from LTM Analyst showing charge
movement caused by different designs and rotational speeds: Mil design 1 (left)
with c=50% and Mill design 2 (right) with c=75% (J=30% and db=25 mm). ... 67
Figure 9-1: Power comparison (experimental x center of gravity x energy loss) for
different mill filling percentages and grinding media size (c=75%). ................. 72

xvi

List of Tables
Table 4-1: Experimental details (grinding media only). .............................................. 26
Table 4-2: Standard ball size distribution based on that from the Bond Wi test
(equivalent to 20% of the mill filling). .................................................................. 26
Table 4-3: Relationship between mill filling and total mass of balls. .......................... 26
Table 4-4: Experimental details (dry grinding) ........................................................... 27
Table 4-5: Experimental details (wet grinding)........................................................... 28
Table 4-6: Size intervals selected for the experimental analyses. ............................. 31
Table 4-7: Batch grinding time intervals for tests including ore powder..................... 34
Table 4-9: Material parameters used for EDEM simulations (Dem Solutions Ltd.).... 38
Table 4-10: Contact parameters for steel-steel surfaces (middle) and contact
parameters to compensate the existence of ore particles. ................................. 38
Table 5-1: Fines generated and grindability from dry tests using 25 mm balls and
30% of mill filling. ................................................................................................ 52
Table 5-2: Fines generated and grindability from all experimental tests: dry grinding
(left) and wet grinding (right). .............................................................................. 53

xvii

Nomenclature
AG

Autogenous grinding

CFD

Computational Fluid Dynamics

CNPq

Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientfico e Tecnolgico

COPPE

Instituto Alberto Lus Coimbra de Ps-Graduao e Pesquisa em


Engenharia

DEM

Discrete Element Method

FEM

Finite Element Method

JKMRC

Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre

LTM

Laboratrio de Tecnologia Mineral

SAG

Semi-autogenous grinding

SPH

Smoothed-particles Hydrodynamics

SSE

Size specific energy

UFRJ

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

UQ

The University of Queensland

xviii

1. Introduction
Particle size reduction operations, called comminution, are extremely important to
achieve a concentrated high-grade product. Nowadays, the mineral industry is facing
some of its most challenging obstacles:

Ore quality is gradually getting worse. In other words, easy extraction of high
concentration resources is becoming limited. As ore grades continue to decline,
the cost to produce mineral commodities rises.

Mineral processing operations are making great effort to keep up with the same
quality productivity as ore quality decreases.

These challenges require a full understanding of all mineral processing operations and
equipment so that process optimization becomes a viable solution.
Comminution is known as an energy intensive process. In fact, many researches tried
to estimate the energy consumption due to comminution operations. Schnert (1986)
estimated that comminution is responsible for between 2 and 3% of the energy
produced in the world. In his recent work, Napier-Munn (2014) indicated that this
estimation is reduced to 1.8%. He also showed impressive numbers related to energy
consumption from several mineral beneficiation industries: approximate calculations
indicate cement grinding is responsible for 185 billion kWh of energy consumption
whilst coal stone crushing indicates consumption of 20 billion kWh. Wills (1997)
indicated that comminution could be responsible for 70% of mineral beneficiation costs.
Among all comminution steps, grinding in tumbling mills is known to be energy
inefficient. The most commonly used tumbling mill in the industry is the ball mill, which
is named after its grinding media, steel balls. Rotational movement provides the rise of
the charge inside the mill and subsequent impact, resulting in particle breakage. They
are able to reduce size particles on a relatively wide range of particle sizes, hence their
wide applicability in the industry and research laboratories.
Many distinct methodologies have been proposed to assess and predict ball mill
performance and energy requirement, being the one based on the Bond work index
(BWi) the most popular. In order to optimize ball milling it is important to first properly
understand the effect of operational variables on grinding. Mill filling, powder filling, mill
rotational speed and size of the grinding media are some of the most important
operational variables of a ball mill. Recently, mechanistic approaches found their way
into comminution modeling for being able to describe detailed relationships between
1

physical environment inside the mill and the product discharged from the mill,
overcoming limitations of previous models (Tavares and Carvalho, 2009). To achieve
this level of detail, mechanistic models used the discrete element method (DEM) to
describe the mechanical environment of the mill (Mishra and Rajamani, 1992,
Weerasekara et al., 2013).
Combined analyses between batch experimental grinding tests and modeling
approaches may be the best path for comminution processes optimization. The
validation of these models will lead to a powerful and efficient tool for breakage
prediction, new equipment design and energy consumption estimation.
The impressive usability and the energy inefficiency associated to ball mills over the
years are the motivational foundations of this work. The possibility of giving a step
further on understanding this complex yet thrilling process enhances the motivation to
improve the efficiency of this traditional and solid equipment by providing substantial
resources to future optimization studies.
A concise discussion of the contents of each chapter follows.
CHAPTER 2 indicates the objectives of this work in a clear form.
CHAPTER 3 reviews some aspects of comminution regarding mineral liberation and
particle breakage mechanisms, ball milling operations, power draw calculation methods
and the advances in comminution modeling. A description of the UFRJ mechanistic
model and information about the discrete element method (DEM) can also be found in
this chapter.
CHAPTER 4 details the experimental methods presented in this work. It indicates the
material used for batch grinding tests and the software used for the simulations.
Information regarding the methodology used for power measurements and size
distribution analyses are presented as well as the tool used for simulation post
processing.
CHAPTER 5 discusses the influence of operational variables such as grinding media
size, mill filling, percentage of the critical speed, powder filling and solids percentage
on power consumption and on particle size distributions. A detailed comparison
between experimental and simulation data is presented indicating the possible
limitations of the techniques used.

CHAPTER 6 summarizes the results and concludes the work. It shows which areas are
established and which still need further understanding.
CHAPTER 7 proposes extra tests, which aim at gaining deeper insights into the effect
of mill design and powder filling on ball milling.

2. Objective
The aim of this work is to evaluate the effect of operational variables on ball mills
through batch grinding and simulation tools, providing resources to improve
mechanistic modeling approaches of tumbling mills.

3. Review of the literature


In this chapter, a review of the well-known comminution laws is presented as well as a
description of the breakage mechanisms of particulate solids, including body and
surface breakage. In addition, grinding processes, especially ball mill operations, are
detailed. The calculation of power in ball mills and the energy efficiency of these
equipment are reviewed. Finally, an overview on comminution modeling using the
discrete element method as basis for the UFRJ mechanistic model is presented.

3.1. Comminution
In mineral processing, valuable ore minerals need to be liberated from the gangue in
order to achieve a product with desirable grade after concentration processes. The
release of these valuable minerals is obtained through comminution.
Comminution is the term used for size reduction due to the application of energy. It
consists of three steps: rock blasting, crushing and grinding. These processes demand
high-energy consumption and it is estimated that around 2% of the global electricity
generated is spent during comminution (Schnert, 1986, Fuerstenau and Abouzeid,
2002, Napier-Munn, 2014). In fact, at an ore beneficiation plant, comminution can be
responsible for up to 70% of production costs, either due to power consumption or
equipment degradation and consumption of wear parts (Wills, 1997).
Crushing stages are responsible for a significant size reduction and can be carried out
in three or four stages. Primary crushing feed stream can have particle sizes as coarse
as 1000 mm and the last crushing stage can deliver particles sizing 10 mm or even
smaller. After being crushed, the material go to grinding circuits resulting in a reduced
particle sizes of hundreds or a few micrometers. Particle size distribution of the product
must be well controlled aiming at maximizing the efficiency of further concentration
stages. Tumbling mills are grinding equipment widely used in mineral processing. The
most used tumbling mills are: ball, autogenous (AG), semi-autogenous (SAG) and rod.
Despite their low energy efficiency, ball mills are robust equipment extensively used in
grinding circuits, probably due to the fact they operate from laboratory to industrial
scale. They are also able to process a large scale of particle size (Napier-Munn et al.,
1996). The grinding media inside ball mills, steel balls, are elevated among the charge
5

and then impacted against the particles by centrifugal and gravity forces. The collisions
promote breakage due to body or surface breakage (Carvalho, 2014).

3.2. Comminution laws


Comminution processes have always been correlated to energy consumption, which
represents a major percentage of mineral beneficiation costs. It was clearly observed
that in order to produce finer particles more energy was needed. Then, a general
equation was proposed, in which a relation between particle fragmentation and energy
consumption is inversely proportional to a particle size power-function, given by
(Napier-Munn et al., 1996):
=

!!
!!

(3-1)

where:
is the additional energy required to produce a size reduction dx;
is the particle size;
and are ore constants.
The greatest challenge of quantifying grinding energy is the fact that the mill absorbs
most of the energy applied and only a small percentage is directed to actual particle
fragmentation. Over the history, semi-empirical energy-size reduction relationships
were proposed by Rittinger, Kick, and Bond, known as comminution laws.

First Law of Comminution ( = 2) proposed by Rittinger in 1867, this relation

indicates that the energy consumption is proportional to the increase in surface area
generated by crushing or grinding processes. It is known that surface area is inversely
proportional to particle size, resulting in the following equation:
=

!
!!

!
!!

(3-2)

where ! and ! are feed and product particle size respectively.

Second Law of Comminution ( = 1) proposed by Kick in 1885. It assumes

that the energy consumed is proportional to the volume reduction of the particles
involved and it can be given by:
!!

(3-3)

!!

These two laws brought forth an extensively controversy between Rittingers and Kicks
followers. In fact, Rittingers approach is extremely simplified since it assumes that all
energy is transferred to the charge and it does not consider deformations that might
happen prior to the breakage event (Bond, 1985). On the other hand, although Kicks
theory showed to be adequate for homogeneous materials, it also miscalculates the
actual energy required in practice.

Third Law of Comminution ( = 3 2) proposed by Bond in 1952. This law

assumes that the energy consumed to reduce particle size is proportional to the square
root of the new area produced and inversely proportional to particle size, known as:
=

!
!!

(3-4)

!!

where is the Work Index (), which was proposed by Bond and it is determined
experimentally in the laboratory. is the energy required, in kWh/t, to reduce 1 tonne
from a large size (infinite) to a point where 80% of the material passes the 100 microns
sieve. This point is commonly referenced as d80:
=

!
!""

0 => = 10

(3-5)

The third law of comminution can then be written as:

= 10

!
!
!!"

!
!
!!"

(3-6)

Bonds comminution law can be applied for crushers, rod and ball mills. Consequently,
the is different depending on the equipment and it must be measured separately.
The standard Bonds laboratory test to determine was designed to produce an
index that would correctly predict the power required by a test with specified
parameters. Thus, in order to apply Bonds equation to industrial mills, which differ from
the standard meant by Fred Bond, a series of efficiency factors should be taken into
consideration (King, 2001).

Although Bond was successful at theoretically proving his assumption, it is known


nowadays that Equation (3-6) is an empirical relation that provides good fit to results
from grinding experiments. Moreover, Bonds theory is still commonly used as a tool for
sizing crushing and grinding equipment in the industry. It is also recognized that this
methodology may present discrepancies around 20% in respect to the actual energy
consumption in the case of ball mills (Herbst and Fuerstenau, 1973) and even higher in
the case of crushers (Tavares and Silveira, 2008)
Attempts to modify these laws, which aimed at proposing a single general equation and
ceasing any ambiguity, were unsuccessful for a large range of particle sizes. Hukki
(1962) pointed out different applicability regions regarding each comminution law as
shown in Figure 3-1.

Figure 3-1: Rittinger, Kick and Bond applicability regions. Adapted from Hukki (1962).

It was identified that Kicks relation is more appropriate for crushing processes whilst
Rittingers can be related to fine grinding. Although Bonds method also shows a limited

applicability region, it is applicable for particle size intervals that are regularly used in
grinding operations.

3.2.1. Size specific energy (SSE) as a measure of energy


efficiency
The size specific energy is the energy required to produce new particles of a certain
size. Ballantyne et al. (2014) proposed the size of -75 m particles as a basis to
calculate the SSE. Musa and Morrison (2009) indicated linear relationship between
new -75 m material generated and cumulative comminution energy consumption.
It was explained previously that the Bond work index is used until nowadays as a
method for calculating energy efficiency of grinding circuits. However, this methodology
is based on !" , which is a size marker of a particle size distribution that is close to the
top size particles. It can be a problem when predicting AG/SAG grinding circuits since
these equipment tend to produce a large amount of fines without reducing !"
(Ballantyne et al., 2014). According to Levin (1992), the percentage of -75 m may be
a more variable quantity and hence, SSE may be a more appropriate measure of
fineness. Ballantyne et al. (2014) confirms that SSE is more effective regarding energy
efficiency calculations because it is related to the generation of fines and not the
reduction in the top size. It was also found by Ballantyne et al. (2012) that the operating
work index and SSE are linearly related.
Figure 3-2 compares observed and predicted specific energy calculation for ball and
AG/SAG mills. Data presented on the chart are originated from Ballantyne and Powell
(2014) and Morrell (2004). Sixty percent of the plants analyzed by Ballantyne et al.
(2014) had circuit efficiencies below 65%, which indicates the need and potential for
energy efficiency improvement.

Figure 3-2: Comminution energy efficiency calculated using ratio between operating and Bond
work indices: unfilled data points from Morrell (2004) and filled points from Ballantyne et al. (2014).

3.3. Particle breakage mechanisms


Mineral breakage happens when the particle breakdown limit is reached resulting in
smaller progeny distribution. Depending on the input particle size and the desired
particle product size, different comminution equipment are selected as each of them
uses different stress application mechanisms. The main stresses involved in
comminution equipment are illustrated in Figure 3-3. The magnitude of the stresses
applied together with the right information of ore characteristics should indicate the type
of fragmentation the particle would suffer.

10

Figure 3-3: Different types of stress application mechanisms inside comminution equipment.
Bigger balls circles grinding media and smaller ones representing ore particle. Adapted from
Chieregati (2001).

In general, stresses are applied in comminution rapidly, providing enough energy to


cause particle failure. Breakage through rapid application of stresses, or impact,
occurs in several mineral processing equipment, for instance, impact crushers or
autogenous, ball and rod mills. Compression results in lower rate of stress application,
resulting in slower propagation of cracks inside the particle, as in jaw and cone
crushers.
Breakage through shattering results in an intense fragmentation of the parent particle
producing a wide range of progeny size, which is extremely common after impact
events. Cleavage, another fragmentation mechanism, happens when the intensity of
energy applied is lower. It results in a progeny with many coarse particles, as well as
fines generated from the location of the stresses.

Figure 3-4: a) Shattering process; b) Fracture by cleavage. Adapted from King (2001).

11

Breakage of particles may be, additionally, classified into two distinct modes: body
breakage and surface breakage. Surface fragmentation occurs when the energy
applied is not high enough to cause body breakage. This happens, for instance,
frequently inside autogenous mills where coarse particles act as grinding media.
Surface fragmentation results in finer products and does not cause significant change
in parent particle volume and size (King, 2001). It occurs via two mechanisms: chipping
and abrasive wear (Francioli et al., 2014). Chipping happens when there is formation of
subsurface lateral cracks (Hutchings, 1993), resulting in the chipping off of a small
volume of the particle. Abrasion, in which almost no surface damage can be seen, is
caused by applications of either low energy stresses or shear stresses generated by
the rolling or sliding of the particles against each other or another rougher surface.

Figure 3-5: Surface fragmentation (chipping and abrasion). Adapted from King (2001).

3.4. Grinding
Grinding processes of tumbling mills consist on the rotation of the mill at the horizontal
axis. Usually, mills are filled partially with grinding media, ore particles and sometimes
water. The movement of the media inside the mill can be indicated by the energy
applied and the mill geometry (liner, lifters and mill diameter). Lifters prevent slipping of
the charge in the mill reducing the amount of energy wasted during the grinding
process and improve the breakage mechanisms by enhancing the number of collisions.
The dimensions of the lifters have great influence in charge motion and grinding
efficiency.

12

The rotation speed that results in the movement of the grinding media adjacent to mill
shell during the entire mill rotation is called critical speed. Ball mills can operate in two
distinct regimes depending on the rotation speed: cascade and cataract, as illustrated
in Figure 3-6. Cascade motion is more likely to result in breakage through attrition
whereas cataract would favor collisions and, thus, body breakage.

Figure 3-6: Examples of movement of the media inside a ball mill simulated using DEM: centrifuge
(left), cataract (middle) and cascade (right).

The critical speed in rotations per minute can be given by,


Critical speed =

!".!
!! !!!

(3-7)

where ! is the mill internal diameter and ! is the diameter of the grinding media
particles, both in meters. Very commonly, the speed a mill is operated is called fraction
of critical speed, ! . Industrial milling usually work between 65-82% of the critical
speed, but sometimes values as high as 90% or lower than 65% are used (King, 2001).
Mill filling is the percentage of the mill volume occupied by the grinding media and the
interstices between them. This operational variable can be written as,
Mill filling: =

!!"
!! !!!"

(3-8)

where !" is the volume of the grinding media inside the mill and ! is the volume of
the mill. ! is the fractional volume of the interstices between the grinding media,
usually ! has a value of 0.4 (Austin and Concha, 1994). The charge inside a mill can
be given by,
Charge: ! =

!!"
!! !!!"

(3-9)

13

where !" is the volume of the material inside the mill.


The powder filling gives the correlation between the charge of material and the charge
of grinding media:
Powder filling: =

!!
!! !

(3-10)

In addition, grinding processes can be classified as dry or wet, when water is part of
the charge inside a mill. Although 30% less energy is used in wet grinding processes,
the costs related to drying may compensate the final expense. Moreover, the wear of
grinding media and grinding mills are typically 3 to 5 times greater during wet grinding
(Tavares, 2009b).

3.4.1. Power in ball mills


Ball mills are one of the greatest energy consumption equipment in mineral processing,
which leads to a high demand of technological development that might result in
increasing energy efficiency. For instance, Cleary (2000) indicates that the power
consumption for a 5x7 m ball mill can reach 3.5 MW and only 1 to 5% of this power is
directed to size reduction. Energy consumption and breakage rate are the best
parameters to define grinding performance.
Figure 3-7 illustrates how some operational variables influence energy consumption.
The effect caused by the variation of the critical speed can be seen. As the speed
increases the center of mass of the charge inside the mill is dislocated towards the mill
wall. However, when the speed gets closer to the critical speed the center of mass is
dislocated to the mill center as the charge starts to centrifuge.

14

Figure 3-7: Influence of % of critical speed (top) and % of mill filling (bottom) on power
consumption. Gray area indicates the usual range used in the industry. Adapted from Kelly and
Spottiswood (1982).

The variation of mill filling can also influence power consumption. More energy is
needed when there is an increase of the mass inside the mill. On the other hand, the
variation of the center of mass as the percentage of mill filling changes also plays a
major role. For greater mill fillings the center of mass is dislocated towards the mill
center, reducing energy consumption.

15

In order to improve grinding efficiency it is crucial to understand how power is


consumed during grinding processes. The following equation indicates the torque
required to turn a mill (King, 2001):
: = ! ! + !

(3-11)

where ! is the mass of the charge inside the mill, is the gravitational force, ! is the
distance from the center of gravity to the mill center and ! is the torque required to
overcome friction, as shown in See Figure 3-8.

Figure 3-8: Illustration of the torque required to turn a mill. Adapted from King (2001).

Then, the mill power is given by:


Power: = 2

(3-12)

where is the mill rotation frequency.


Austin (1990) and Morrell (1996) proposed models that decouple gross and net power
of tumbling mills:
Gross power = No load power + Net power

(3-13)

16

Figure 3-9: Schematic illustration of a tumbling mill.

No-load power is the power consumed by an empty mill and it accounts for frictional
and mechanical losses. According to Morrell (1996), it can be calculated by:
!.!"
No load power = 1.68!
! (0.667! + )

!.!"

(3-14)

where ! and are physical characteristics presented in Figure 3-9. In Equation (314), ! is the mean length of the conical ends as it is shown below:
! =

!! !!

(3-15)

The net power is calculated from:


Net power = !.! ! !

(3-16)

where ! is the effective length of a mill, ! is the specific gravity of the charge, is a
parameter related to the fractional mill filling and is another parameter related to the
percentage of critical rotation speed. Depending on the type of discharge, assumes a
specific value. Austin (1990) and Morrell (1996) suggested different values of for
each condition. Moreover, they indicated different approach for calculations of ! ,
and .

Austins approach:

! = +

!.!"#

!!

!! (!!!.!"!! ) !! !!

!!

= ! (1 1.03! )

!.!"# !.!
!.!!!!

!.!"# !!.!
!.!!!!

(3-17)

(3-18)
17

= ! 1

!.!
! !!!"!!

Morrells approach:

! = + 2.28! (1 ! )
=

(3-19)

!!
!

!! (!!!! )
!!

= ! 1 1 !"# exp (19.42!"# + 19.42 )

(3-20)
(3-21)
(3-22)

where ! is the total fractional mill filling, which includes the percentage of the mill
volume occupied by the grinding media and the ore.
In Equation (3.21), can be calculated by:
= 2(2.986! 2.213!! 0.4927)

(3-23)

and,
!"# = 0.954 0.135!

(3-24)

According to King (2001) and Tavares (2009a), both approaches deliver approximately
the same estimates of net power consumed by tumbling mills.

3.5. Comminution modeling


The concept of comminution modeling emerged as a computational mechanism, which
aims at understanding comminution processes with a detailed approach. There are two
types of modeling that achieved large applicability in industrial processes.
The first type, known as phenomenological models, predicts product size distribution
through prior knowledge of operational variables and feed particle size distribution.
They describe mill operations as a first order rate process and they generally consider
the grinding equipment as a perfect mixing reactor.

18

Breakage event
Operational

Feed

conditions

Product

Figure 3-10: Black box models. Adapted from Napier-Munn et al. (1996).

Through an engineering tool, called the population balance model, researchers were
able to describe successfully comminution processes in tumbling mills (Austin et al.,
1984). The population balance model can be simplified as a mass balance over a
range of sizes through calculations of breakage rates and appearance functions,
classification and transport in mills.
The size-discretized model when applied for batch grinding can be described by Austin
et al. (1984):
!!! (!)
!"

= ! ! +

!!!
!!! !" !

(3-25)

where ! is the mass fraction of particles in size class i, s is the selection function and
b is the breakage function. The selection function represents the specific breakage rate
depending on the size of the particle and the breakage function describes the breakage
behavior of a particle after being fractured and its fragments are distributed among
smaller size classes. Coarser particles are usually classified in size class 1, whilst finer
particles are classified as N. The grinding process in size class i is related to the
disappearance of particles in this very size class and the appearance of smaller
particles coming from coarser classes.
The coarser size interval has the advantage of having only the disappearance function
and Equation (3.25) can then be simplified as:
!!! (!)
!"

= ! !

(3-26)

19

where ! is the breakage rate in size class 1 (coarsest class). This simplification allows
the assumption of identifying grinding process as being a first order kinetic process. As
! does not vary with time, it can be estimated by:
log

!! (!)
!! (!)

!! !
!.!

(3-27)

Examples of specific breakage rate for the first size class can be found further in this
work (Figure 4-11).
For decades, the traditional population balance model, which in the case of the batch
grinding may be described by Equation 3.25, has been used as a basis for modeling
mills and researchers added their individual semi-empirical relationships contributions
to fit the technique. However, the model itself encounters great difficulty to simulate the
process under different conditions from those used to fit its parameters (Carvalho and
Tavares, 2013). In addition, another limitation lies in its inherent incapacity to describe
how operating and design variables used in milling influence size reduction.
Weerasekara et al. (2013) also commented on the incapacity of the traditional
population balance model, given that it is a phenomenological model, of predicting the
performance of new or novel equipment.
In order to overcome the limitations of the traditional population balance model, new
formulations, known as mechanistic models, were proposed. Those types of models
are very complex and they require great computational capacity. They can describe
detailed relationships between physical conditions inside the mill and the product.
Tavares and Carvalho (2009) and Tavares and Carvalho (2010) proposed a
mechanistic model that maintains mass balancing capabilities of the population
balance model and also presents a deeper insight of the effect of operating and design
variables. Their model is able to decouple material from mill contributions in the
process. In order to achieve this level of detail, the Discrete Element Method is used to
describe the mechanical environment of the mill.

3.5.1. Discrete element method (DEM)


Mishra and Rajamani (1992) were the first to use the discrete element method in the
minerals industry as a tool to simulate grinding media motion. DEM has been widely
accepted not only in comminution but also to simulate environments where granular
20

materials are used, such as rock and powder mechanics. Today, DEM technique has
proved to be a powerful tool for the development of mechanistic modeling in
comminution. Some of the characteristics of DEM are:

It simulates particle motion through Newtons equations of motion;

It simulates particle contact (collisions) through contact laws;

Used for energy efficiency calculations;

Used for equipment design and optimization;

It needs intense computational power;

It can provide data for simulating size reduction in comminution machines.

Carvalho (2014) explains the calculation algorithm of the DEM in three stages. A list of
interactions regarding the particle neighborhood is periodically built through a search
mesh. The collision forces are also evaluated by the use of the contact model and,
finally, the forces involved on each particle are summed followed by the integration of
motion equations, which are related to mass, inertia momentum of the particle, and its
linear and angular velocities.
DEM simulations of tumbling mills started as a two dimensions technique. Millsoft is
an example of 2-D software dedicated to tumbling mills (Mishra and Rajamani, 1992).
3-D tools, such as EDEM, came out with the advances of computational power.
Recently, DEM found its way on coupling to other simulation techniques, for instance:
DEM-FEM (finite element method), DEM-CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and
DEM-SPH (smoothed particles hydrodynamics) (Bagherzadeh Kh et al., 2011, Chu et
al., 2009). The use of these coupled techniques allow the simulations of different
environments in distinct applications such as particle breakage, crack propagation and
motion and slurry discharge from a mill. The power consumption calculated through
DEM regarding charge motion does not include the effect of slurry movement in the
charge or the mechanical losses in the motor or couplings. Cleary (2001) stated that
power measures taken from real mills will be greater than the power obtained from
DEM simulations. The use of DEM for ball, AG and SAG mills simulations can provide
prediction of power consumption with an error of less than 10%. In addition, it is able to
predict the movement of the charge inside the mill and it also gives important
information on lifters and liners wear and degradation (Mishra, 2003).
Many researchers directed their work into validating DEM simulations by comparing
simulated results with experimental data. Cleary and Hoyer (2000) used a centrifugal
mill and changed fill levels with very close agreement in terms of power prediction.

21

Another study comparing simulations to experimental data was conducted by Makokha


et al. (2007) using a ball mill with different lifter profiles. Good agreement was achieved
regarding shoulder and toe positions as well as power draw at sub-critical speeds.
Morrison et al. (2006) carried out tests on a pilot AG mill and concluded that the error in
power draw predicted using DEM was 3.1%.
According to Carvalho (2014), the main set of information extracted from DEM to be
used on grinding predictions is the collision energy spectrum. The energy spectrum can
be captured by normal and tangential (shear) energy loss calculations or by kinetic
energy calculations immediately after the collision event. These two methods give
significant difference in the results, as claimed by (Powell et al., 2008). Independently
of the method, the extraction of the collision energy spectrum after a simulation using
DEM needs an enormous amount of data, and several post-processing techniques
have been proposed to better evaluate collision energy information. In fact,
Weerasekara et al. (2013) agrees that the revealing of the nature of the collisions
energy spectra is one of the most important success of the discrete element method.
The concept of incremental breakage was also developed as DEM simulations
provided information on the high number of weak collisions inside tumbling mills, which
are responsible for particle failure. Experimental studies indicated that failure by
accumulation of damage over weak collisions consumes more energy than failure by a
single high-energy impact, suggesting a cause for tumbling mills energy inefficiency
(Weerasekara et al., 2013).

3.5.2. UFRJ mechanistic model overview


Mechanistic models are those that are capable to decouple the contributions of the
machine from the material being processed in such a way that the micromechanics are
described in great detail. In milling, these models are capable of decoupling the
contributions of the mill and the ore, so that they can describe detailed information of
physical conditions inside the mill. The UFRJ mechanistic model showed to be a
potential candidate to overcome other limitations of other mechanistic model
approaches (Carvalho, 2014). One of the greatest strengths of the UFRJ approach lies
in the fact that it recognizes the weakening of the particles that survive collisions during
milling, described by the model by Tavares and King (2002) using the damage

22

accumulation model. It considers that particle properties change with time due to both
low-energy and high-energy impacts. As stated by Carvalho (2014), the model has
inputs from fundamental ore breakage properties and it uses information from collision
energy spectrum from DEM simulations.
To simulate breakage on ball mills, previous work conducted by Tavares and Carvalho
(2009) and Tavares and Carvalho (2010) proposed to consider the ball mill as a perfect
mixing reactor, in which the material properties are equally distributed. The ball mill
model assumes that a certain volume of particles will be captured between grinding
media and the energy transferred is divided among the captured particles after each
collision. However, the energy provided by the impact results in different breakage
mechanisms, which depends on the magnitude on the impact and on the ore
properties. Figure 3-11 presents a schematic overview of the breakage possibilities
after each impact. The captured particles may suffer body breakage or surface
breakage due to chipping and/or abrasion mechanisms.

Figure 3-11: Schematic diagram of the collision event of the mechanistic model (Tavares and
Carvalho, 2009).

The model couples DEM and empirical/phenomenological models that describe the
outcome of each breakage event as illustrated in Figure 3-12.

23

Figure 3-12: Schematic illustration of the input information for the mechanistic model (Tavares,
2015).

The model assumes that the normal component of the collision is entirely responsible
for the breakage. Previous studies conducted at LTM showed good agreement
between the UFRJ mechanistic model results with experiments when predicting nonfirst order rates of coarser particles of a laboratory batch ball mill test. Furthermore, the
effect of operating and design variables in ball milling has been investigated by
Carvalho and Tavares (2013). They simulated the batch grinding of narrow size
samples with the mechanistic model over a wide range of operational variables. Their
predictions were in general agreement with the literature.
Finally, the model was also extended to other applications such as vertical impact
crusher (Cunha et al., 2013), SAG mills (Carvalho, 2014) and material handling
(Tavares and Carvalho, 2011).

24

4. Materials and methods


In this chapter, the experimental settings and procedures are presented. Batch tests in
a ball mill that were conducted are divided in two sets: tests with only steel grinding
media as charge and tests with grinding media and ore filling the voids left by the
media. The equipment used for torque and power measurement and size distribution
analyses are detailed. The simulation parameters using the software EDEM are
explained as well as the tool developed in LTM to extract simulation data.

4.1. Batch grinding


Batch grinding in laboratory tumbling mills have been essential for a better
understanding of the effect of operational variables on grinding operations.
Experimental batch tests, when coupled to the right analyses tools, are able to deliver
crucial information for process optimization.
First, batch tests using only grinding media (steel balls) as charge inside the mill were
conducted. Some operational variables were changed as it can be seen in Table 4-1.
Mill filling, powder filling and the critical speed were calculated using Equations (3-7),
(3-8), (3-9) and (3-10). A grinding media charge composed of balls of different
diameters (size distribution) used in some cases were calculated according to a
modified ball size distribution related to the standard Bond test. The mass of each
ball size interval was recalculated to 30% and 40% of the mill filling by maintaining the
same mass proportion as presented in Table 4-2 and Table 4-3.

25

Table 4-1: Experimental details (grinding media only).


Case #

Ball diameter (+/-2 mm)

Mill filling (%)

Percentage of critical speed (%)

Mill frequency (RPM)

75

59.4

20

15

30

10

40

11

20

75

60.5

12

30

67.5

54.4

30

75

60.5

14

30

85

68.6

15

40

75

60.5

75

62.2

75

60.5

13

25

16

20

17

40

30

18

40

5
6

20
Distribution

30
40

Table 4-2: Standard ball size distribution based on that from the Bond test (equivalent to 20% of
the mill filling).
Ball diameter (mm)

Total number of balls

Nominal

Interval

36.5

35-39

36

30.2

29-31

62

25.4

25-28

12

19.1

19-23

61

15.9

15-16

114

Table 4-3: Relationship between mill filling and total mass of balls.
Mill filling (%)

Ball mass (Kg)

20

19.8

30

29.8

40

39.8

Then, in the following tests, powder was added to the charge. The material used for the
experimental batch tests was a granulite rock provided by the Brazilian Company
Pedra Sul/Petra, located in Matias Barbosa, Minas Gerais State. Its specific gravity
2.69 g/cm3 was determined from picnometry tests at LTM. This rock has considerably
high mechanical strength, which prevents it from degrading during handling and
screening operations associated to the experimental testwork. As such, it represents
an ideal material for investigating grinding kinetics in the laboratory. Moreover, another
sample of this ore has been previously characterized by (Tavares and Neves, 2008).

26

The material was first sieved as the size range in the feed to the tests was selected to
be +1.18-9.50 mm and later a pile was formed to allow separation of representative
samples for each batch experiment.
In order to study the effect of mill filling, powder filling, percentage of critical speed, ball
size and percentage of solids many different tests were required and a specific
organized plan was followed. Case number 24 (25 mm ball size, 30% mill filling, 100%
powder filling and 75% of the critical speed) was selected as the base condition and all
other tests were varied according to the progress of the results and the need to
evaluate tests with different operational variables. Table 4-4 and Table 4-5 list all batch
tests that were conducted with their respective detailed variables.

Table 4-4: Experimental details (dry grinding)


Case #

Ball diameter (mm)

Mill filling (%)

Powder filling (%)

20

Percentage of critical speed (%)


67.5

80

21

75

22

85

23

67.5

24
24 (2)
25

30

100

25

75
75
85

26

67.5

27

120

28

75
85

29

20

100

75

30

40

100

75

31

20

100

75

30

100

75

30

100

75

33

40

100

75

19

20

100

75

30

100

75

32
32 (2)

34
34 (2)

40

Distribution

30

100

75

35

40

100

75

36

20

100

75

36 (2)

20

100

75

30

100

75

37 (2)

30

100

75

38

40

100

75

37

15

27

Table 4-5: Experimental details (wet grinding)


Case #
40
41
42
43
44
45

Ball diameter
(mm)
25
40
Distribution

Percentage of solids
(%)

Mill filling
(%)

Powder filling
(%)

Percentage of critical speed


(%)

30

100

75

65
75
65
75
65
75

4.1.1. Measurements
Figure 4-1 illustrates the settings of the laboratory ball mill used in the batch grinding
tests. The mill has 30 x 30 cm and eight metallic lifters. The lifters were designed to
give an aggressive milling response regarding breakage rate. Their dimensions are
presented in Figure 4-2. The size of the lifters provides intense cataract movement of
the charge inside the mill under normal grinding conditions (Figure 3-6).

Figure 4-1: Laboratory ball mill settings.

28

Figure 4-2: 3-D model of the 30x30 cm laboratory ball mill (left) and the lifter profile (right).

The torque sensor is able to measure torque and power variations over time with 0.1%
error by using the software from Lorenz Messtechnik (Krimmel). Tests running with an
empty mill result in torque values varying close to zero N.m, what allows assuming that
the torque measured later during the batch tests is entirely due to the charge
movement. Figure 4-3 is an example of data extracted from the software. Initial and
final peaks from both torque and power curves indicate the start of the mill rotational
movement and the activation of the breaks respectively. In order to work with the data,
these peaks were not considered in the calculations and the average value of the
remained data of torque and power were extracted for further analyses.

Figure 4-3: Typical data extracted from the torque sensor.

29

4.1.1.1. Different mill design


Some tests using another mill design were carried out at LTM. The dimensions of the
mill remained the same (30 x 30 cm), but only 6 lifters with different dimensions (27 x 6
cm) were used. A 3-D drawing of both ball mills is presented in Figure 4-4.

Figure 4-4: Mill design 1 (bigger lifters) and mill design 2 (smaller lifters).

With design number 2, the following parameters were used: 25 mm ball size, 75% ! ,
30% of mill filling, and several powder filling conditions as presented in Table 4-1 and
Table 4-4.

4.1.2. Size analyses


Sieving has been the method of particle size analysis in laboratories around the world.
Regular screening is composed of a series of screens with size factor 2 or

2, which

is able to provide mass distribution over a wide range of sizes. However, screening
analyses also may require tremendous amount of time, especially for fine particles
screening when wet screening is usually needed.
Three different methods were used for separation of the material after the grinding
process. The total size analyses include the size intervals shown in Table 4-6.
30

Table 4-6: Size intervals selected for the experimental analyses.


Size (mm)

Initial
size
range

9.5
8.0
6.3
4.75
3.35
2.38
1.70
1.18
0.850
0.600
0.425
0.300
0.212
0.150
0.106
0.075
0.053
0.038
0.027
0.020
0.013
0.009
Bottom

Screening (Produtest)

Screening (Ro-tap sieve shaker)

Sympatec (Mytos)

Solotest (Produtest) (+4.75-9.5 mm) & Ro-tap (+0.425-4.75 mm):

Both Produtest and Ro-tap are automated sieve shakers with large processing
capacity. Produtest is particularly suitable for sieving coarser material and larger
quantities of sample whilst Ro-tap is suited for analyzes of finer material. The latter
supports seven sieves series. The standard time of a sieving batch is 15 minutes and
its rotation movement results in a quick efficient sieving.
After every Ro-tap analysis, the material held in the bottom sieve was quartered so
that only 20g would be analyzed in Sympatec.

31

Figure 4-5: Ro-tap sieving equipment.

Sympatec (Mytos) (<0.425 mm):

There are different techniques for analyzing fine particles, including wet sieving and
laser diffraction equipment such as Malvern Mastersizer and Sympatec Mytos. A
comparison of size distributions analyzed using these three techniques was carried out
at LTM, showing good agreement (Hellyer, 2013). Analyses from both wet screening
and Malvern Mastersizer may take a long time and therefore Sympatec Mytos was
chosen for separating particles finer than 425 m.
Sympatec uses a He-Ne laser of 632.8 nm along with a spatial filter in the beam
expansion unit to create a near perfect plane where illumination of the particles takes
place. Laser techniques, such as Sympatec, in summary, measure the angle of
scattered versus the size of the particle. The detectors merely measure these angles of
diffraction and subsequently apply them on an algorithm or models, transforming the
data into particle size distribution.

32

Figure 4-6: Sympatec equipment installed at LTM facilities.

The Sympatec system uses dispersion as a means to break up agglomerates into


their independent unit, taking into accounts particles that will be falsely perceived as
coarse. The analyses process is a dry procedure and the maximum limit that the
Sympatec can manage is 875 m.
In order to understand the optimal settings under which the Sympatec operates best,
some variables were investigated. The tests that showed least statistical variance were
those using the following operational settings: 40 grams of material and 50% of feed
rate. However, any mass above 5 grams would provide very similar results. Combined
results are automatically compiled on the Sympatec software program yielding
concentration distributions and volume distributions (Niebuhr et al., 1998).

33

Figure 4-7: Distributions resulted from Sympatec software program.

4.1.3. Experimental method


Each test using only grinding media took two minutes and the variation of torque and
power could be measured. On the other hand, when ore powder was part of the
charge, the batch grinding tests were carried out within four time intervals for each
experimental case number, summing a total of ten minutes as it can be seen in Table
4-7 (See Table 4-4 and Table 4-5 for detailed cases). In order to avoid material
aggregation in certain parts of the mill during the beginning of the tests, the method
used for filling the mill consisted on loading alternative layers of balls and ore, resulting
in an optimal filling of the grinding media interstices.

Table 4-7: Batch grinding time intervals for tests including ore powder.
Batch step

Time interval (min)

Total elapsed time (min)

10

34

An overview of the entire experimental test procedure is shown schematically in Figure


4-8. Basically, after each batch grinding step the material was analyzed according to
the following order: Produtest, Ro-tap and Sympatec. After size analyses the material
would be homogenized by hand prior to the next mill filling creating a more natural
comminution environment. Figure 4-9 shows an example of size analyses results for
one minute grinding, also indicating where each step was conducted.

Batch grinding
(Steps 1 to 4)

Sympatec
(bottom-0.450 mm)
(only 20g from bottom Ro-
tap sieve is analyzed)

Produtest
(+4.75-9.5 mm)

Ro-tap
(+0.45-4.75 mm)

Figure 4-8: Experimental procedure.

Figure 4-9: Different size analysis techniques for 1 minute grinding depending on the size interval
of the particles.

35

4.1.4. Experimental repeatability


In order to study the repeatability of the tests some replicates were run. This effort
provides great insight into experimental variability and it also helps distinguish real
effect of operational variables from ordinary differences, which are within experimental
error. Figure 4-10 illustrates results of selected batch grinding tests using different ball
sizes. Every curve and its respective duplicate show excellent agreement, which
indicates the occurrence of only very small errors during the experimental procedure
and also the variability of each condition. This provides a great advantage for further
simulations steps. These are actual entire tests duplicate and not only size analyses
repetition of the same experimental test.

Figure 4-10: Size analyses of duplicate cases using different ball size: 15 mm (top left), 25 mm (top
right), 40 mm (bottom left) and distribution (bottom right).

36

Figure 4-11 shows two distinct graphs. The first illustrates the disappearance of the ore
top size class, whilst the second shows the variation of the average power measured
with grinding time. Again, good agreement is reached. Deviations between replicates
are greater in the disappearance plots of the top size fraction, but this may be, in part,
explained by the log axis of the graph.

Figure 4-11: Breakage rate of 8 mm size class (left) and variation of power with time (right) of
duplicate tests.

4.2. Simulation software (EDEM & LTM Analyst)


The software used to run DEM simulations was EDEM (Dem Solutions Ltd.). It allows
simulations with complex geometries that can be imported from third party software
and it also attributes motion to both geometry and particles that are created within
EDEM. One option for contact between particles is a non-linear model given by HertzMindlin, which combines Hertzs elastic contact theory (normal direction) and Mindlins
no-slip model (Mindlin, 1949). This model requires some material intrinsic information
such as specific gravity, shear modulus and Poissons ratio. Material parameters for
steel, which composes the grinding media and the mill, are presented in Table 4-8.
Contact parameters are also needed, that is, coefficient of restitution, coefficient of
static friction and coefficient of rolling friction.
Coefficient of restitution is a measure of energy dissipation in a collision. This
coefficient can be calculated by analyzing the momenta of the particles prior to and
37

after a collision. It is a fundamental parameter when there is need to evaluate the


energetic regime in grinding equipment.

Table 4-8: Material parameters used for EDEM simulations (Dem Solutions Ltd.).
Material parameters for steel
Specific gravity (kg/m)

7800

Shear modulus (GPa)

0.1

Poisson's ratio

0.3

Contact parameters used in the simulations were selected as follows. First, contact
parameters between steel-steel surfaces, which were found in the literature, were used
(Dem Solutions Ltd., 2013). This first set of simulations resulted in good comparison
with experimental tests using only grinding media as charge (Cases 5-18).
It is important to notice that experimental cases (19-45) include ore filling whilst only
grinding media have been included in the simulations. Then, the contact parameters
were changed to compensate for the existence of the ore in the simulations. According
to previous researches (Carvalho and Tavares, 2013, Ramos et al., 2011), this is a
reasonable assumption as the behavior of the steel balls is affected by the presence of
ore particles in the charge. Simulations following a factorial design with the three
contact parameters were conducted and the set of parameters that resulted in a charge
movement more similar by visual inspection to the actual experimental movement of
the charge was chosen for the additional simulations. Thus, these new estimated
contact parameters represent ball-ball collisions in which the contacts are accounting
for the presence of particles although they do not exist in the simulations. The
parameters are clearly different when used to represent ball-ball (steel-steel) and ballwall (steel-steel) contacts.

Table 4-9: Contact parameters for steel-steel surfaces (middle) and contact parameters to
compensate the existence of ore particles.

Contact parameters

Steel-steel surfaces (default)

New estimated values (steel-steel


accounting for presence of ore)

Coefficient of restitution

0.7

0.65

Coefficient of static friction

0.2

0.24

Coefficient of rolling friction

0.01

0.48

38

Figure 4-12: Snapshot of EDEM simulation where balls are colored by their kinetic velocity (J=30%,
=75% and db=25 mm).

One of the greatest advantages of EDEM is its powerful capacity of post processing
data, which allows the extraction of almost every type of information used during the
simulation stages. However, as the amount of generated data may become huge of
several gigabytes in some cases, the data resulting from DEM simulations must be
properly treated (Weerasekara and Powell, 2008). A computational tool written with the
software Matlab R2012, from Mathworks, was developed by Carvalho (2014) at LTM
to extract relevant data and analyze mill performance by generating the following
information: power draw, particles velocities, position of the particles as function of
time, and frequency and magnitude of collisions.
This tool, called LTM Analyst, uses the variation of the center of mass of charge to
calculate mill power, as described by (Bbosa et al., 2011). For this, it uses EDEM
recorded information of particle position, speed, rotation and also normal and tangential
energy loss of the collision. Figure 4-13 shows the power draw of the ball mill used for
the simulations, which has the same dimensions of the ball mill used for the
experimental tests. The extraction time starts at five minutes of grinding simulation
allowing enough time for the process to achieve steady state, thus providing better
analyses of the charge motion.

39

350

Net Power as function of extraction time

300

Power (W/m)

250
200
150
100
50
0
4.8

5.8

6.8
7.8
8.8
Time in EDEM simulation (s)

9.8

Figure 4-13: Power draw of the ball mill (J=30%, =75% and db=25 mm).

In addition, LTM Analyst provides great insights into mass density distribution and
velocity of the charge as well as spatial distribution of the collisions. Figure 4-14 are
examples of data obtained using post processing routines of LTM Analyst. The velocity
profile represents the average velocity of the particles inside the mill as function of mill
coordinates. The blue color indicates the region known as the eye of the charge where
the velocity is near zero, whilst the red area indicates the region where the particles
achieve greater speed. The figure on the right shows the density of particles per meter
per second, which demonstrates the frequency of the particles appear at that specific
zone in the mill during the time of simulation. To enhance the visibility of the differences
in the profiles, the regions are colored by the log of the velocity or the variable of
interest such as the particle density per length of the mill.

Figure 4-14: Velocity profile (left) and particle frequency (right), (J=30%, =75% and db=25 mm).

40

5. Results and discussion


This chapter includes results related to power consumption, particle size distribution
and simulations. In addition, a more in-depth analysis of the process efficiency is found
and the influences of the operational variables as well as the effect of mill design are
showed. A comparison between experimental and simulation data is detailed.

5.1. Batch grinding

5.1.1. Power
In this section, experimental data related to power consumption during batch grinding
are presented.
The evolution of the average power measurements along time can be seen in Figure
5-1 and Figure 5-3. These average values are represented as points at the final minute
of the time intervals given in Table 4-7. Ball diameter is probably the variable that
indicates the most noticeable effect on power. Figure 5-1 shows the variation of power
with time for tests with different grinding media size. First, results from dry grinding
experiments are presented. The power draw tends to decrease as the ore charge
becomes finer, i.e. at longer grinding times. Regarding the ball size, the capacity of the
lifters at elevating small balls, what dislocates the center of gravity away from the mill
center, also requires a considerable amount of energy to do so, which results in lower
power draw as the grinding media diameter increases. Then, results of wet grinding
can be seen, which also shows greater power consumption for tests with smaller ball
sizes.
The effect of mill filling is presented in Figure 5-2. It indicates a relation between power
consumption to the mass of the charge. There is a great difference between 20% of
mill filling and the other results, independently of ball size. The test using 40% of the
mill filling demonstrated to consume more energy when all dry grinding tests are
compared. Wet grinding with 30% of mill filling showed the highest power consumption,
even if compared to dry tests with 40% of mill filling, thus not only the mass of the
charge is important but also its movement, which changes with powder aggregation.

41

Figure 5-1: Variation of power with time for tests with different ball sizes: Dry (above) and wet
(below), (J=30%, =75% and U=100%).

42

Figure 5-2: Effect of mill filling on power consumption ( =75% and U=100%).

It is important to notice that the percentage of critical speed plays an important role on
power as indicated in Figure 5-3. Independently of the percentage of the critical speed,
the four dry tests indicate a tendency of decreasing power with time. However, the
power resulted from wet batch grinding increases with time due to segregation of the
fine particles with water on the mill wall, dislocating the center of gravity away from the
mill center. Cleary (1998) stated that segregation of the charge increases power
consumption. In Figure 5-3, the test with 85% of the critical speed indicated the
minimum value of power consumption. However, it will be explained in the following
sections that this same test is by far the least efficient regarding the combination of
breakage x power consumption.

43

Figure 5-3: Variation of power with grinding time for different percentage of the critical speed
(J=30%, U=100% and db=25 mm).

Powder filling increases power consumption as it adds mass to the charge. Figure 5-4
indicates there is great difference between tests with charge composed of balls plus
ore powder from those with charge composed of steel balls only. The difference of
power among tests with 80%-120% of powder filling almost cannot be distinguished,
varying less than 5%.
In fact, the contribution of the ore, or powder filling, can be extremely difficult to
measure and to understand. Again, Figure 5-5 shows the difference on average power
consumption between tests using only iron balls and charge composed by ball plus
100% of powder filling for two different ball sizes: 15 mm (left) and 40 mm (right).

44

Figure 5-4: Variation of power with percentage of critical speed for different powder fillings (J=30%,
=75% and db=25 mm).

Figure 5-5: Effect of 100% powder filling on power for different mill filling percentages. Ball size: 15
mm (left) and 40 mm (right).

45

It is clear that both ball size and mill filling influence the contribution of the ore to the
power consumption. Lower percentage of mill filling indicates a more substantial
contribution of the ore on power, hence the considerable difference on the graph. The
same conclusion can be reached for smaller balls: when 15 mm balls were used, a
greater difference on curves representing conditions with and without powder could be
seen.
All effects caused by these operational variables may change according to the mill
internal configuration. The lifters used for the experimental tests on this work are very
aggressive in projecting the media and it may or may not be a good design considering
energy efficiency (Section 5.1.3). There may be though a relationship regarding the
ratio: height of lifter and ball diameter (! /! ), which should be able to indicate the
best mill design according to the size of the ball used and vice-versa. This relationship
will be investigated in future studies and is beyond the scope of the present work.

5.1.2. Particle size distribution


In analogy to power consumption, ball size has considerable effect on particle
breakage. It is noticeably easy to identify differences on breakage patterns in Figure
5-6. Tests using larger diameter balls resulted in more intense breakage, especially of
coarser and middle size particles.

46

Figure 5-6: Size analyzes of each batch grinding step (J=30%, U=100% and =75%). Top-left:
db=15 mm log-log scale; bottom-left: db=15 mm semi-log scale; Top-right: db=40 mm log-log scale;
bottom-right: db=40 mm semi-log scale.

47

Figure 5-7: Size distribution after 10 minutes of grinding using different ball sizes (J=30%, U=100%
and =75%).

Smaller grinding media are not able to break coarse particles because they cannot
provide the energy needed to break them during impact. This statement can be
confirmed by observing Figure 5-7 and Figure 4-11 (left). In fact, the difference on
breakage of the top size class (8 mm) reached 66% when choosing 40 mm over 15
mm balls. As the diameter of the grinding media gets coarser, more intense breakage
of coarse particles occurs during the grinding process. Figure 5-8 shows the difference
of the grinding product using different ball sizes after five minutes of grinding. On the
left, it is possible to see the existence of several large particles whilst no material above
about 2 mm survives grinding on the right picture after the longest grinding time.
The effect of powder filling can be seen in Figure 5-9 (left). When less mass (powder)
composes the charge, the impact probability is higher because of the greater chance of
balls nipping the particles, which are in smaller quantity. In addition, Figure 5-9 (right)
shows data regarding the effect of mill filling. Again, less mass (balls) resulted in more
intense breakage, indicating that 20% of mill filling should be the optimal breakage
condition.

48

Figure 5-8: Product size after five minutes grinding using db=15 mm (left) and db=40 mm (right).
(J=30%, U=100%, =75%).

Figure 5-9: Effect of powder filling (left) and mill filling (right) on size distribution after ten minutes
grinding using 25 mm balls (left) and ball distribution (right).

The effect of speed on particle breakage can be seen in Figure 5-10. Higher
percentages of the critical speed results in lower breakage probabilities, independently
of the percentage of powder filling. It shows that 85% of the critical speed results in
less breakage, especially for intermediate size class particles.

49

Figure 5-10: Effect of rotational speed on size distribution after ten minutes grinding using U=80%
(left), U=100% (middle) and U=120% (right) (db=25 mm and J=30%).

5.1.3. Fines generated and grindability


As valid as the qualitative comparison amongst size distributions carried out in the
previous section is, it is not the most convenient method of analyzing comparatively
data generated from all tests. A good alternative is through analyzes of production of
fines and specific energy consumption. In this section, fines generated is given by the
percentage of fine material produced - below 75 microns - by grinding time. Ore
grindability can be calculated as the amount of fine material produced by the product
between power and time. Therefore, it is possible to evaluate which operational
variables should be used to produce optimal quantity of material and also which ones
should be used to maximize grinding efficiency.
Production of fines =
Grindability =

% !" !"#$%&"' !"#$% !" !"#$%&'

!"(!"#$!!")
!""!"#$%

!"#$

! (!!" !"#$%&')
!"!

% (!!" !"#$%&')
!

(5-1)
(5-2)

where, PF is the production of fines, hold-up is the input mass of the test and power is
the average power measured during 10 minutes of grinding. These two parameters are
also the values of the angular coefficient of linear curves intercepting zero. An example
can be seen in Figure 5-11.

50

Figure 5-11: Graphic representation of productivity and grindbility calculations of cases 20 - 22.

Table 5-1 summarizes angular coefficient values from tests carried out with different
percentage of the critical speed and powder filling. It indicates that tests with lower
speeds produce more fines, making the process also more efficient. As such, it
suggests that more energy is directed to actual breakage. It is believed that grinding
tests using higher percentage of the critical speed could not match such good results
given that the combination between lifter height and mill rotational speed enhanced the
cataract movement in such a way that the impact zone became inefficient.
Consequently, much energy is spent on inefficient impacts (ball-wall) whilst ball-ore
impacts were not assured. This becomes particularly evident by analyzing results of
DEM simulations, which indicated the significant ultraprojection at higher mill speeds
(Figure 5-12).

Figure 5-12: Charge (balls) frequency extracted from LTM Analyst showing different impact zone
caused by different speed: = 85% (left) and = 67.5 (right).

51

Table 5-1: Fines generated and grindability from dry tests using 25 mm balls and 30% of mill filling.
Case #

%
!

!
!"!

10!!

Powder filling (%)

! (%)

Production of fines

Grindability

20

1.7353

0.550

21

1.5602

0.486

22

1.3565

0.456

85

23

1.491

0.572

67.5

24

1.4179

0.548

24(2)

1.2788

0.49

25

1.0472

0.434

85

26

1.352

0.635

67.5

27

1.1252

0.526

28

0.9104

0.454

67.5
80

100

120

75

75
75 (2)

75
85

* Green color indicates higher values, yellow color indicates intermediate values and red color
indicates smaller values.

Overall comparison of all dry tests (Table 5-2 - left) shows that case 20 (db=25 mm,
U=80%, J=30% and 67.5% ! ) contains the operational variables considered to
represent the optimal condition to produce the greatest amount of fines. However, in
order to achieve the best correlation between comminution and energy efficiency, other
variables should be used. Case 32 (db=40 mm, U=100%, J=30% and 75% ! )
revealed to have the best operational conditions in terms of efficiency. The ratio lifter
height/ball size proved to be very inefficient for smaller ball sizes, hence the poor
performance of cases using 15 mm balls in both production and efficiency.
Furthermore, 15 mm balls are considered very small for an ore top size of 8 mm,
resulting in inefficient breakage of coarse particles.
Results from wet grinding tests confirmed that larger ball sizes yielded improved
operation for the mill and ore studied. In addition, a larger amount of water (lower
percentage of solids) resulted in lower efficiency, probably because the additional mass
represented by the water increased the power consumption, with limited additional
fines produced. Wet grinding with 75% of solids content demonstrated to be more
efficient than dry grinding when the same conditions are applied (Cases 24 and 41; 32
and 43; 34 and 45). It is better illustrated in Figure 5-13.

52

Table 5-2: Fines generated and grindability from all experimental tests: dry grinding (left) and wet
grinding (right).
Case #
19
20
21
22

%
!

1.3907
1.7353
1.5602
1.3565

!
!"!

10!!

Case #

%
!

40

1.4915

0.519

0.55

41

1.6636

0.618

0.486

42

1.8051

0.654

0.456

43

1.7919

0.694

44

1.6538

0.582

45

1.6077

0.644

23

1.491

0.572

24

1.4179

0.548

24(2)

1.2788

0.49

25

1.0472

0.434

26

1.352

0.635

27

1.1252

0.526

28

0.9104

0.454

29

1.6518

0.548

30

1.1904

0.599

31

1.6364

0.621

32

1.5996

0.694

32(2)

1.4868

0.642

33

1.2305

0.694

34

1.4383

0.599

34(2)

1.4462

0.599

35

1.1989

0.599

36

1.1332

0.359

36(2)

1.1674

0.366

37

1.1162

0.415

37(2)

1.129

0.411

0.422

0.8826

10!!

0.487

38

!
!"!

A curious effect is shown in Figure 5-14. Grinding efficiency is improved by increasing


mill filling. Although 40% of mill filling achieved the highest efficiency value, the gap
difference from 30% to 40% is minimal. In this case, the use of J = 30% would then be
preferential because it requires a smaller weight of grinding media and, thus, reduced
wear and cost. Moreover, the transport in a continuous ball mill, as is the case in nearly
all mills operating in industry, with 40% of mill filling may be compromised by the
excessive amount of charge inside the mill.

53

Figure 5-13: Effect of ball size and percentage of solids on grinding efficiency. Dry data is the
average of duplicate cases (J=30%, U=100% and =75%).

Figure 5-14: Effect of ball size and mill filling on grinding efficiency (U=100% and =75%).

54

5.1.4. Effect of mill internal design


Previous work using a different design was conducted at LTM. It was used a different
sample of the same ore, sizing +1.18-8.00 mm. The effect of design on grinding
efficiency is shown in Figure 5-15. The substantial difference on the graph can be also
explained on the basis of ore variability and top size, but is most likely associated to
mill design. A different design can change the bulk movement behavior of the charge
and consequently affect breakage distribution and power consumption.

Figure 5-15: Effect of mill design on grinding efficiency (J=30%, db=25 mm and =75%).

Given the lower height of the lifters, mill design #2 demonstrated to be considerably
more efficient. At this speed (! = 75%), the elevation of the charge provided by the
higher lifter is not favorable. Mill design #1 would only achieve the same grinding
efficiency if some operational variables were changed, such as decrease of rotational
speed and increase in ball size. It is interesting to notice that a small change in design

55

leads to an entirely different outcome in grinding, requiring the mill to be operated


under a completely different set of operating conditions in order to reach optimal mill
performance. Evidently, the differences in the liner configurations tested and illustrated
in Figure 4-4 are comparatively much greater in relative terms than those that are
found in full-scale mills.

5.2. Simulation

5.2.1. Power calculated from DEM simulations


Section 5.2 shows results from simulations using mill design #1. Two sets of contact
parameters were tested. Default parameters (steel-steel) and parameters that were
calculated to compensate the existence of the ore in the simulations, called optimal
parameters (See Table 4-9). The use of different parameters has a significant impact
on charge motion. Figure 5-16 illustrates the effect of the critical speed on power
extracted from the simulations. Power consumption decreases as the percentage of
critical speed increases. For higher speeds only a small difference was identified
between the two data points because of the highly elevated charge movement. Figure
5-17 shows that higher percentage of mill filling increases power consumption. The
influence of ball size is more particular: the lowest value of power is related to 25 mm
balls, giving an indication that this is the optimal size to be used (what is not compatible
with experimental tests).
The influence of powder filling could not be analyzed once the simulations presented in
this work are composed of only grinding media.

56

Figure 5-16: Effect of percentage of critical speed on power from simulation using different contact
parameters. (J=30% and db=25 mm).

Figure 5-17: Effect of ball size and mill filling on power from simulation using different contact
parameters.

57

The energy spectrum is also another type of analysis provided from post process DEM
collisions. It provides a great perception of the energy transferred between pairs of ballball and ball-liner collisions. Figure 5-18 shows collision energy spectra obtained from
DEM simulations for the batch grinding tests using different percentages of mill filling.
The number of collisions with higher magnitude increases with the mill filling; however,
there is not a considerable difference between 30% and 40% of the mill filling. It is also
noticeable the high frequency of collisions events with low magnitude. The effect of ball
size obtained from DEM simulations is presented in Figure 5-19. As expected, the
greater ball size the higher number of high energy impacts that will occur among the
charge. Collisions with magnitude below 10-8 J were eliminated providing an increase in
computational efficiency without losing relevant information.

Figure 5-18: Collision energy spectra of balls-balls (left) and balls-liner (right) pairs with different
mill filling percentage (db=40 mm and =75%).

Figure 5-19: Collision energy spectra of balls-balls (left) and balls-liner (right) pairs with different
ball sizes (J=20% and =75%).

58

An analysis of the charge movement showed that tests with different ball sizes
presented distinct charge movement and resulted in different shoulder and toe angles
change for different ball sizes. Again, it is possible to see the influence of the ratio
(! /! ); As presented in Figure 5-20, 40 mm balls are not easily elevated as 15 mm
balls. This results on more efficient impacts as stated in Section 5.1.3. Figure 5-21
illustrates the difference on charge movement caused by mill design. Shoulder and toe
angles are extremely different, this is one of the reasons that explain the difference in
grinding efficiency identified in Section 5.1.4 when liner profile was modified.

Figure 5-20: Particle frequency profiles extracted from LTMAnalyst showing different charge
movement caused by different ball sizes: 15 mm (left), 25 mm (middle) and 40 mm (right).

Figure 5-21: Particle frequency profiles extracted from LTMAnalyst showing different charge
movement behavior obtained from different mill designs running at same operational conditions:
Mill design 1 (left) and Mill design 2 (right) (J=30%, db=25 mm and =75%).
.

59

5.3. Comparison between experimental and simulated data

5.3.1. UFRJ mechanistic model (Particle breakage)


Given the vast and anomalous conditions of the experimental tests due to extended
lifter height and high percentage of critical speed, the prediction of particle breakage
using traditional modeling approaches such as population balance may be extremely
complicated. However, this provides the perfect conditions to put mechanistic models
such as UFRJ modeling approach under evaluation. Given its capacity to decouple
effects of the ore properties from the grinding environment.
The ore specific parameters used in the UFRJ mechanistic model simulations in this
work were considered to be the same as those presented in the previous work of
(Carvalho and Tavares, 2013), even though the sample was not exactly the same,
given that, some degree of deviation is expected even in the same mineral deposit.
Comparison between experimental batch grinding and the models predictions using 40
mm balls can be seen in Figure 5-22. The model demonstrated to be able to predict
breakage rates of coarse particles with good agreement to experimental data during all
test intervals. In addition, it showed to be capable of noticing different mill filling
percentages and predict the difference in breakage related due to this operational
variable. The model also showed to be sensible to different grinding media sizes,
however the predictions of breakage rates when smaller balls are used did not achieve
the same level of agreement as those using 40 mm balls. The disappearance of the ore
top size class is shown in Figure 5-24. There is good agreement between simulation
and experimental data for every ball sizes. In fact, the prediction of breakage until 4.75
mm is extremely efficient; however, predictions of breakage of smaller particles are not
as successful and could indicate a limitation of the parameter fitting or even of the
model. Some reasons regarding this disagreement may include the particle capture
model and fracture energies, however deeper analyses into these variables should be
conducted in order to update the model and thus achieve a better agreement in
predictions using smaller balls, which is not investigated in this present work. Thus, as
model fitting was not conducted, the disagreement may be due to the ore specific
parameters.

60

Figure 5-22: UFRJ mechanistic model predictions for different mill filling: J=30% (left) and J=40%
(right). (U=100%, db=40 mm and =75%).

Figure 5-23: UFRJ mechanistic model predictions for smaller ball sizes: db=15 mm (left) and db=25
mm (right). (U=100%, J=30% and =75%).

61

Figure 5-24: Comparison between disappearance of top size class from simulation and
experimental data.

Through this work, the UFRJ mechanistic model proved to have the potential to predict
breakage from a vast range of operational variables, including conditions that are not
regularly used in the industry. The fact that different ball sizes, mill fillings and grinding
times resulted in different predictions with certain agreement to experimental data is
already an indication of the outstanding capabilities of the model.

5.3.2. DEM (Power)


During the last decade, researches showed good agreement between DEM simulations
with experimental data when only grinding media were used. The addition of the ore
influences charge motion, power consumption and grinding efficiency. In this case, the
methods used to simulate includes the addition of small particles representing the ore,
which demands intense computational power, or the change of the simulation contact
parameters aiming at compensating the existence of the ore. This second approach is
the one used in this work.
Figure 5-26 and Figure 5-27 show that there is a considerable difference between
simulation and experimental (balls + ore) curves. Despite a generally good agreement
of the observed charge motion (Figure 5-25), it was not possible to predict power
62

consumption using DEM for all cases with good agreement in these simulations, which
did not explicitly incorporate the ore charge. This difference may be caused by the
contribution of the ore on power consumption, which is not yet entirely clear.
The contribution of the ore on power consumption becomes larger for smaller
percentage of mill filling. Also, the DEM simulation results showed even poorer
agreement with experiments when higher percentages of the critical speed were used.
However, this difference may not be as evident when predicting power from full-scale
mills.

Figure 5-25: Comparison of the charge movement: experimental (left), simulation using EDEM and
post-processing using LTM Analyst (J=30%, =75% , db=25 mm and for the experimental case,
U=100%).

63

Figure 5-26: Power consumption for different percentage of mill filling (db=25 mm, =75% and
experimental data with U=100%).

Figure 5-27: Comparison between simulated and experimental power consumption (J=30%, db=25
mm and U=100%).

64

6. Conclusions
Operational variables have a significant influence on both particle breakage and power
consumption. The grinding process can be completely changed if one of the variables
is altered. Grinding media size is the variable that affects power consumption and
particle breakage the most. The use of bigger balls results in a more efficient breakage,
especially of coarse particles. It also decreases power consumption, however this
effect may be linked to the high lifter height used. Lower percentages of mill filling
enhanced breakage probability and decreased power consumption, as the charge was
lighter (less grinding media). Although higher percentages of the critical speed
consumed less energy, it also resulted in less breakage due to the high number of balls
impacted in the inefficient impact zone. Finally, powder filling showed to be an
important variable that need more understanding. Its variation did not show any effect
on power consumption, however lower percentages of powder filling resulted in more
breakage once the particles in the charge were more likely to be impacted against the
grinding media.
The case that produced more fine material per hour (% h) was not the most efficient
case (t kWh), showing that according to the operational variables chosen, either quick
breakage or milling efficiency can be prioritized. Bigger grinding media and lower mill
speed provided better grindability, both in dry and wet cases. The percentage of solids
in wet experimental tests should be controlled once it showed a grindability peak at
75% of solids.
Although DEM simulations provided great insight into charge motion and showed to be
sensitive to most changes in operational variables, they did not comply with most of the
experimental work regarding the magnitude of power consumption. This difference may
be caused by the non-existing ore particles in the simulations, which were not capable
of providing an absolute realistic environment, even though the contact parameters
were changed to compensate it.
The UFRJ mechanistic model for batch ball mill showed extremely good agreement
with experimental data when 40 mm steel balls were used. It also showed good
agreement on predicting breakage of coarse particle (until 4.75 mm) even when
smaller grinding media were used. Nonetheless, the model still needs improvements so
that it will become able to fully predict breakage (until finer size classes) under various
operational variables, including small grinding media. It is likely, that at least some of

65

the deviations can still be explained by the fact that breakage parameters used in the
simulations were from another sample, although from the same rock deposit.

66

7. Future work
Further experimental work with lower rotational speed should be conducted. As it was
showed in this work the dimensions of the lifters resulted in extremely aggressive
motion with ultraprojection of the charge. To find the optimal operational conditions
under which this mill will achieve better efficiency is an important goal. Figure 7-1 is an
indication that different mill designs can provide similar charge motion depending on
the operational variables used. Therefore, this more normal behavior of the charge
may provide tools to make a deeper comparison on grindability using different designs.

Figure 7-1: Particle frequency extracted from LTM Analyst showing charge movement caused by
different designs and rotational speeds: Mil design 1 (left) with =50% and Mill design 2 (right)
with =75% (J=30% and db=25 mm).

Given the size of the mill used in this work, where the presence of ore particles plays a
role in contributing to the total power draw. In order to provide insights on their
contribution via simulations, small particles representing ore should be introduced in
the DEM simulations. This will require higher computational capacity and the contact
parameters between steel-ore and ore-ore should be previously calibrated. As a result,
not only a better understanding of the influence of the powder ore on the charge motion
as well as on power consumption may be achieved but it will also be possible to
investigate the mixing patterns of the charge movement.
These improvements will provide even more resources to enhancing the applicability of
the UFRJ mechanistic model of tumbling mills.

67

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9. Appendix A power comparison

Figure 9-1: Power comparison (experimental x center of gravity x energy loss) for different mill
filling percentages and grinding media size ( =75%).

72