CSIRO to hold minerals processing conference

A CSIRO conference scheduled for Melbourne next week will highlight the importance of computational fluid dynamics modelling to minerals processing technology.

The CSIRO’s Minerals Down Under Flagship will hold a three-day conference in Melbourne next week focussing on the benefits of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling in minerals processing technology.

The CSIRO said the conference will highlight the applications of CFD modelling in the minerals and process industries and the advances in modelling techniques.

The event, slated for 9 to 11 December, will feature presentations by local and international researchers, including Prof Rodney Fox from Iowa State University, as well as industry representatives.

According to the research body, mathematical CFD modelling has been significantly improving the performance of unit operations within the industry.

The technique aims to simulate complex fluid mechanics by using computers to calculate the mathematical data involved in flow dynamics.

The CSIRO has used CFD modelling to examine the flow patterns within operations like fluidised beds, hydro-cyclones, flotation cells, settling tanks, thickeners and gravity separation devices.

The data generated can then go towards improving the operations or equipment design.

According to the Minerals Flagship’s Dr Phil Schwarz, the technique has been valuable to the industry because it provides a detailed understanding of the flows and related chemistry.

“CFD allows us to identify complex flow patterns, reactions and heat transfer occurring at a range of scales within these unit operations,” he said.

“Having this understanding means we are able to optimise processes and equipment mathematically, which means there is less of a need to construct expensive pilot plants.”

The conference will explore topics such as multiphase flow, combustion, phase change and non-Newtonian flow in a wide variety of applications, including coal combustion, smelting, furnaces, slurries and crystallisation.

According to the CSIRO, a number of companies have successfully used the procedure to improve the design of their equipment.

For instance, multi-metals business Nyrstar used CFD modelling to identify the cause of brick degradation in a roaster dome at its Tasmanian zinc smelter, the CSIRO said.

Similarly, mineral processing technology provider Outotec used the technique to identify and improve the solids distribution, fluid flow and flocculant performance within its new vane feedwell design.

Another minerals processing equipment provider, Gekko Systems, also used CFD modelling to understand the flow of materials within its In-Line Pressure Jig gravity separation device.

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