Sonic injection into a PGM Peirce-Smith converter: CFD modelling and industrial trials
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This paper was first presented at the, Pyrometallurgical Modelling Principles and Practices, 4-5 August 2014, Emperors Palace Hotel Casino Convention Resort, Johannesburg.
This open access article is distributed under the Creative Commons license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Peirce-Smith converters (PSCs) are extensively used in the copper, nickel, and platinum group metals industries. The typical converting operation involves lateral purging of air into molten matte through a bank of tuyeres. This blowing operation occurs at low pressure from the blowers, resulting in a bubbling regime that is considered inefficient from both a process and an energy utilization perspective. Inherent drawbacks also include recurrent tuyere blockage, tuyere punching, and low oxygen efficiency. Western Platinum embarked on a full-scale industrial evaluation of generating a jetting regime by using sonic injection. Prior to industrial- scale tests, a numerical assessment to ascertain the feasibility of implementing sonic injection into a PSC was conducted. The work included flow characterization at high-pressure injection achieving sonic velocity at the tuyere exit. The 2D and 3D simulations of the three-phase system were carried out using the volume of fluid method together with the RKE turbulence model to account for the multiphase and turbulent nature of the flow. This paper discusses the key findings in understanding plume extension, velocity distribution, shear wall stress analysis, and phase distribution characteristics in the system. Plant trials are also discussed with reference to the commercial aspects of a full-scale implementation of sonic injection in the smelter.
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