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Pellet Plant (PP) : A brief note on the pelletization process

The iron ore filter cakes are transferred from the port facilities to the pellet plant through a conveyor
belt. There is a limestone crushing unit and grinding mills for limestone and bentonite. All these raw
materials namely iron ore filter, limestone, coal , bentonite are mixed in proper proportions and sent
to the large bins on top of the pellet plant. The raw mixture is directed to one of the six bins
according to the setpoints fixed by the control. From here, the mixture is directed to the six
pelletizing disks where they are made into small balls called green pellets. This is a variable
frequency drive ( VFD ) which makes the disks rotate at proper speed because a slow speed will
result in bigger balls and a faster speed will result in very small balls. The ideal size of the pellet is 6
to 16 mm. From the disks, the green pellets pass through roller screens (rolling at constant speed)
where the undersized and oversized pellets fall into different conveyors and are transferred back to
the bins for mixing. The correct sized pellets move through a different conveyor to an oscillating
conveyor and they fill up the pellet cars uniformly. In order that these unfinished pellets dont stick
to the sides, they are made to sit on a hearth layer formed by finished pellets (final product). The
pellet cars carrying the green pellets move into the burning chamber covered by refractory bricks.
Furnace oil is sprayed through the burners to heat the pellets upto 1300C. Then they pass on to the
water cooled cooling zone where they are brought down to around room temperature thus forming
the final product the finished pellets. These pellets are again passed through screens to see if they
are of the right size ( the improper pellets are again sent back to the bins ) , and 20% of these proper
pellets go back to form the hearth layer. The remaining pellets goes to the stockyard through a
conveyor and they are stacked into proper piles by use of a huge stacker which can move sideways
and also run along the length of the stockyard. Here the pellets are stored until they are ready to be
loaded by the reclaimer ( similar to stacker but this moves up and down as well ). Then they are
carried away to the berth where they are loaded into ships for export.

Process Control department : Quality control tests and other tests are performed here. Also there is
a small scale working structure of the pellet plant for experimental purposes. A small amount of
pellets are collected at each major stage of the pelletization process and various tests like moisture
content, abrasion coefficient , powdering, drop ball tests are conducted here.
Control Room of the Pellet Plant: Here, theres a mimic that shows the operating conditions of the
whole plant. Also there are operator consoles to check all the parameters, indicate start/stop/trip
information etc. So in the event of any fault, the control room operators locate this fault and convey
the information to the field workers. Complete monitoring is possible with a lot of flexibility. The
control system is authorised to trip or shut down the whole plant or any individual process. However
for safety purposes it is not authorised to start any of the processes.
Electrical unit of PP plant: The training was in 61 MCC ( motor control centre ). The power is taken
either from the KPTCL line (which is converted from 110kV to 6.6kV in the switchyard ) or from the
CPP ( captive power plant ) . The buses 61 AEA and 61 AEB are energised through the incomers to
6.6 kV. A bus coupler/ tie switch interconnects these two buses for flexibility. All the HT motors are
connected to this 6.6kV line. All the LT motors and other lighting systems get their power from the
secondary of distribution transformers that step down 6.6kV to 433 V. There is a CT/PT panel these
current transformers and bus potential transformers are used for protection and metering. There is
a battery bank room for DC supply backup which contains 110 lead acid cells to provide 220 V and 24
lead acid cells to give 48V. There are also cable rooms where all the underground cables reside
easier for maintenance and safe to have separate cable rooms rather than having the cables stacked
in the ceiling. There are two capacitor banks of 3MVAR each for power factor correction.
The main function of this plant is to generate and distribute power to the pp and the pf units of
KIOCL. The power can be but is not exported to the KPTCL grid since there is no such contract
between the KEB and KIOCL. The total capacity of CPP is 28MW. It has three DG sets of 9.36MW,
6.6kV each. There are three 1:1, 10/12.5 MVA, 6.6 kV distribution transformers and also three
station transformers (2.5 MVA) that step down 6.6 kV to 415 V. This 415 volt line is used inside CPP
for auxiliary motors, starting pumps and lighting. There is also a battery bank for 220 V DC supply.
When there is no power from KEB, a black start DG set i.e a motovator of 2500kVA ,6.6kV is used.
The power for starting the motor of the motovator comes from lead acid battery bank kept near it.
The 6.6kV generated here goes to the station transformers where it is stepped down and can be
used to get the main DG sets running. The CPP operates in two modes either in grid mode where it
is interconnected to the KPTCL main supply or the island mode where it works independent of the
grid and provides power to the pellet plant. The island mode is used mainly when the pellet plant
has to run continuously for two months and no shutdowns can be afforded. Referring to the KIOCL
single line diagram, two DG sets power one bus and the other DG set powers one more bus. A bus
coupler (2500 A) is used to interconnect these two buses. From each of the buses, one line feeds PP
and another feeds PF so if one line is shutdown, the plants can be run from the other plant. The cost
of generation of power per unit in CPP is approximately 9 rupees which is higher than the power
available from KEB.
The DG set engines used are WARTSILA46 12 cylinders arranged in a V form on both sides. There is
no motor to start these instead air from the atmosphere compressed by two turbochargers is used
to move the pistons of the cylinders and slowly start the engine. The engine shaft rotates at 500 rpm
and is connected to the rotor of a PMG (permanent magnet synchronous generator). The output of
the PMG is the exciting voltage applied to the field of the main alternator. This exciting voltage is
monitored and controlled by automatic voltage regulator (AVR).Whenever a motor (on the load
side) is started, the voltage drops. This is sensed by the AVR and it increases the exciting voltage of
the alternator to increase the supply. When in grid mode, the AVR monitors the power factor this
is more important when the plant is synchronised to the grid. When in island mode, the changes are
according to the voltage. In the AVR panel, there are two setups master and slave so if one is not
working, the other takes over immediately. The generated power goes to the CT/VT panel through
HT cables from the stator of the alternator. The CT/VT panels have current transformers and
potential transformers mainly used for metering and protection. Most of the circuit breakers used in
CPP electrical units are of SF6 type but they are slowly being upgraded to the vacuum circuit
breaker. Three ratings of circuit breakers are applicable in different areas of the plant 2500 A,
2000A and 1500 A.
A dry lubrication system is used i.e the whole structure is not dipped in the lubricant but lube oil is
passed through the structure just before the engine is started. There is a lube oil tank to store the
lubricant, lube oil filters and cooling system. Furnace oil is used as a fuel for the engines. In the
beginning diesel is used as furnace oil is a thick liquid. Once the engine temperature rises, the fuel
switches over to furnace oil as its cheaper than diesel. Again there is a system for preheating,
storing, filtering and cooling this furnace oil. The furnace oil passing out is collected in two tanks
clean oil (oil that if fine after filtering) and dirty oil (leakage from various parts of the engine). The
clean oil is reused and the dirty oil is sent to the pellet plant burning zone to be used as fuel. The CPP
also has a sand treatment plant and a demineralising plant for treating water going into the plant
(otherwise the impure water will cause corrosion in the pipes). The cooling process mainly contains
heat exchanger plates. All the exhaust generated passes through a common vent and goes to the
atmosphere. Earlier there were flue-gas desulphurization units to neutralise the sulphur content in
the exhaust. After some directions by the pollution control department, it was decided to buy the
furnace oil with less sulphur content so that the exhaust can be directly let into the atmosphere.
PROCESS AUTOMATION IN CPP : The whole process of the CPP is automated meaning the
starting/stopping of motors and monitoring of parameters can be carried out remotely without
actually being on the field. The sensors (temperature, pressure, flow etc) are placed at appropriate
positions in the field. The wires from these field sensors are hooked up in a systematic manner in a
PLC panel. Each sensor will have its own address and accordingly that address location on the panel
is used to indicate the status of the processes. These wires are connected to the I/O i.e the input
output cords and from here they go to the memory of the PLC. The PLC is basically a microcomputer
on which the logic is written. So PLC can take decisions such as starting or tripping a motor after
cheching the parameters. The PLC used here is ABB with master 200. The information from the PLCs
are carried to the hub which is like an internet port through mod 300 communication cables. There
is redundancy in these cables i.e there are two exactly similar cables so if one is damaged , the other
can operate in the same way. Redundancy can be implemented at any point in the system
depending on the criticality and requirement of the plant. Through the hub the information enters a
system called SCADA supervisory control and data acquisition system consisting of an RTA (remote
terminal automation software and cords), a control station software (CS) , TCP/IP protocol
communication cables to take the information to the aspect server and the many operator consoles.
DCS(distributed control system) is an upgraded version of SCADA. There is a redundancy in the
TCP/IP cables also. SCADA takes care of selecting the PLC for collecting the information and showing
all the process details in graphical form. The aspect server, on which the MMI (man machine
interface) software is loaded, handles all the incoming and outgoing information. It is the main
server operated by an engineer which has authority over all other operator consoles which have less
Port facilities (PF) department :
In the switchyard, the 110 kV line is received from the KPTCL and is stepped down to 6.6 kV by three
transformers TR01 (16/21 MVA), TR02 (16/21 MVA) and TR03 (21/25 MVA). Of these TR02 is
standby. The higher rating is with cooling fans and lower rating without the cooling fans. There are
17 tappings on the primary of this main transformer so even if the primary voltage is varying; the
secondary will be constant at 6.6 kV by automatic on load tap changing. From here, the power is fed
to the PP, PF and CPP units. The SPF plant has been shut down. The 6.6 kV filter plant bus is used to
run all the motors and processes in the PF. Distribution transformers are used for lighting purposes
and LT motors. Since there are a lot of induction motors running, the power factor comes down to
around 0.8 but the nominal value is 0.95. Penalty is levied for low power factor. Apart from the
capacitor bank of PP unit, the three synchronous motors used in PF for the three ball mills also
contribute to power factor correction when they are running. A total of 6MVAR power (approx.) is
needed for power factor correction. The exciter system of the synchronous motors (static excitors) is
placed in an electrical room. The motor first acts as an induction motor, then as the exciter picks up
the rotor is locked to the stator and synchronous operation is started.
The iron ore mined in Kudremukh before 2005 and in Bellary after 2005 is transported to Mangalore
and is loaded in a conveyor belt and sent to the ball mills for filtering. The slurry is stored in a large
slurry tank which should be operated continuously. The ball mills have huge filter disks. Vacuum is
blown in through pipes, the paste comes off and filter cakes are formed. These filter cakes are
transported into the pellet plant by another conveyor belt.