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Projeto de Graduação apresentado ao Curso de
Engenharia de Materiais da Escola Politécnica,
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, como parte
dos requisitos necessários à obtenção do título de Engenheiro de Materiais

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MILLING

Engenharia de Materiais

da Escola

Politcnica,

dos requisitos necessrios obteno do ttulo de

Engenheiro de Materiais.

Orientador:

Rio de Janeiro

EFFECT OF OPERACIONAL VARIABLES ON BALL MILLING

Fevereiro de 2015

ii

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

Mahatma Gandhi

iv

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.

laughs along our undergraduate study years.

their constant support, advice and suggestions. I am extremely grateful to

consider them not only as advisors but also as great friends.

incredible knowledge exchange.

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.

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

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

Daniel Mendona Francioli

Fevereiro/ 2015

Orientador:

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.

viii

the requirements for degree of Materials Engineer.

Daniel Mendona Francioli

February/ 2015

Advisors:

Rodrigo Magalhes de Carvalho

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.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ....................................................................................................... vi

List of Figures ........................................................................................................... xiii

List of Tables ............................................................................................................ xvii

Nomenclature ........................................................................................................... xviii

1.

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

2.

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

3.

3.1.

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

3.2.

3.2.1.

3.3.

3.4.

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

3.4.1.

3.5.

4.

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

3.5.1.

3.5.2.

4.1.

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

4.1.1.

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

4.1.1.1.

4.1.2.

4.1.3.

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

4.1.4.

4.2.

5.

5.1.

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

5.1.1.

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

5.1.2.

5.1.3.

5.1.4.

5.2.

5.2.1.

Simulation ..................................................................................................... 56

Power calculated from DEM simulations ................................................... 56

xi

5.3.

5.3.1.

5.3.2.

6.

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

7.

8.

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

9.

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. .................................................................................................................. 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

CNPq

COPPE

Engenharia

DEM

FEM

JKMRC

LTM

SAG

Semi-autogenous grinding

SPH

Smoothed-particles Hydrodynamics

SSE

UFRJ

UQ

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.

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).

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.

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)

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.

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)

= 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).

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.

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).

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).

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).

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

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).

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

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).

Power: = 2

(3-12)

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

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)

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)

!!

!

!! (!!!! )

!!

(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.

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.

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:

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

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).

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

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.

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

Case #

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)

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
(%)

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.

Case #

20

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

Case #

40

41

42

43

44

45

Ball
diameter

(mm)

25

40

Distribution

Percentage
of
solids

(%)

Mill
filling

(%)

Powder
filling

(%)

(%)

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).

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.

29

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.

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

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)

Sympatec (Mytos)

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

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

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

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

10

34

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

of the particles.

35

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.

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

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

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

accounting for presence of ore)

Coefficient of restitution

0.7

0.65

0.2

0.24

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

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

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.

5.1.1. 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.

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%).

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!!

! (%)

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

!

!"!

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

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

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

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

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.

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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71

Figure 9-1: Power comparison (experimental x center of gravity x energy loss) for different mill

filling percentages and grinding media size ( =75%).

72

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