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Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,

37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy Review:

An International Journal

Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:

http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/gmpr20

Optimization Studies of Hydrocyclone for Beneficiation

of Iron Ore Slimes

S. Mohanty

a

& B. Das

a

a

Institute of Minerals and Material Technology (CSIR) , Bhubaneswar, India

Published online: 12 Jan 2010.

To cite this article: S. Mohanty & B. Das (2010) Optimization Studies of Hydrocyclone for Beneficiation of Iron Ore Slimes,

Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy Review: An International Journal, 31:2, 86-96, DOI: 10.1080/08827500903397142

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08827500903397142

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Mineral Processing & Extractive Metall. Rev., 31: 8696, 2010

Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

ISSN: 0882-7508 print/1547-7401 online

DOI: 10.1080/08827500903397142

OPTIMIZATION STUDIES OF HYDROCYCLONE

FOR BENEFICIATION OF IRON ORE SLIMES

S. Mohanty and B. Das

Institute of Minerals and Material Technology (CSIR), Bhubaneswar, India

Hydrocyclone is a key unit operation in mineral-processing industry for beneciation of

mineral values that uses centrifugal force to separate materials by density or size. The

optimization of different operating parameters of hydrocyclone is gaining importance to

achieve the best performance. In the present investigation, an attempt has been made

to develop statistical models using design of experiment technique and optimize the

model parameters using the NelderMead multidimensional pattern search technique

to obtain a product of desired grade and recovery. Hydrocyclone parameters such as

spigot diameter (mm), vortex nder diameter (mm), solids consistency (%), pressure

(psi), and dispersant (gms/kg) are optimized to recover iron values from iron ore slime

generated at iron ore washing plant. Addition of dispersant signicantly improved the

separation efciency. The maximum iron grade and recovery predicted by the model

is 65.0% and 60%, respectively, for a iron ore slime sample containing 57.84Fe, 6.0%

Al

2

O

3

, and 6.7% of SiO

2

.

Keywords: design of experiment, hydrocyclone, iron ore slimes, optimization, statistical analysis

INTRODUCTION

Fine particles generally coat on the mineral particles and pose difculties

in subsequent separation techniques. It has been stated that in otation method

slime coating retards the collector adsorption into the desired mineral species.

Even in gravity and magnetic separation techniques, they are not desired due to

poor performance. Therefore, desliming of extremely ne particles is being carried

out prior to any separation techniques. These slimes are being removed either by

vigorous agitation or by using suitable classication techniques. Hydrocyclone as a

classier has found wide applications in mineral industry for separation of coarse

and ne particles. Almost all the mineral industries in the world of today have

adopted hydrocyclone for size classication. Depending on the characteristics of the

feed particle size, it can separate different sizes of particles by varying the operating

and design parameters. The advantages of this classier are mechanical simplicity,

high throughput, less oor space, and low capital cost in comparison to mechanical

classiers. An important aspect of a hydrocyclone is the stabilization of the cut

point (J

50

), with varying solid concentrations and particle size compositions. The cut

Address correspondence to S. Mohanty, Institute of Minerals and Material Technology (CSIR),

Bhubaneswar 751 013, India. E-mail: swati.mohanty@gmail.com

86

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HYDROCYCLONE FOR BENEFICIATION OF IRON ORE SLIMES 87

point of hydrocyclone mostly depends on operating variables such as vortex nder

diameter, spigot diameter, operating pressure, solids concentration, throughput, and

so on.

The understanding of the operating variables that inuence hydrocyclone

performance is of increasing interest for the iron ore washing plants of India, where

it is widely used to deslime ore particles. This desliming operation in washing plants,

often carried out to recover some coarse and ne materials, poses an important

technical challenge. Recovery of enriched iron particles for iron and steel use is

not achieved in cyclone underow fraction due to some operational problems.

During the process of washing of iron ore, around 10 million tons of ultra nes

iron particles containing 48%60%Fe are being generated every year in India and

discarded as tailings. The characteristics of iron ore slimes are such that the gangue

materials such as silica and alumina are preferentially accumulated in the ner

fractions. On the basis of the characteristics of the sample, some laboratory studies

on iron ore slime samples were carried out in hydrocyclone to recover iron values

in the underow stream (Das et al. 1992; Das, Ansari, and Mishra 1993; Srivastava

et al. 2001).

Design of experiment technique is being widely used for optimization of

operating parameters (Montgomery 1997; Myers and Montgomery 2002). By this

technique, any interaction between the variables can be determined unlike in the

case where one variable is changed at a time. Lynch and Rao (1968) have developed

empirical models to estimate the water ow distribution, J

50

, composition of the

product from the vortex and the spigot. The variables taken into consideration

were vortex nder diameter, spigot diameter, feed pressure, and solids content.

The experimental data used for the development of the models were obtained

by varying one parameter at a time for silica and copper ore. However, by this

method the true interaction between the variables cannot be obtained (Anderson

and Whitcomp 1996). Empirical models for estimating separation size, ow split,

pressure drop, and sharpness of separation have been reported by Plitt (1976) for

silicawater slurry. He has carried out full-factorial design experiments with cyclone

diameter, inlet diameter, vortex nder diameter, apex diameter, free vortex height,

feed pressure, and slurry solids content as variables. The design and optimization

studies for hydrocyclones have also been carried out using computational uid

dynamics (CFD) modeling and genetic algorithm (Karr et al. 2000; Udaya Bhaskar

et al. 2001). Using the CFD simulation, the ow prole of the system can be studied

which can help in designing a system with a desired ow prole. In the present

study, the experiments were carried out as per two-level full factorial design with

center points and additional points, with an objective to maximize the grade and

recovery of iron. Empirical models based on statistical analysis were obtained to

predict the grade and recovery in 50-mm diameter hydrocyclone and were used for

parameter optimization.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

A representative iron ore slime sample was collected from the iron ore washing

plants and brought to the laboratory for the detailed investigation studies. The

chemical composition of the iron ore slimes indicates that the sample on an average

contained 57.84%Fe, 6.7% SiO

2

, and 6.0% of Al

2

O

3

, 4.0% loss on ignition, and

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88 S. MOHANTY AND B. DAS

Table 1 Size analysis and distribution of iron

in as received sample

Size, Weight, Fe, Fe Dist,

m % % %

100 to 75 1.0 60.3 1.04

75 to 45 2.3 66.5 2.63

45 to 30 2.3 64.5 2.56

30 to 20 3.1 62.0 3.32

20 91.3 57.5 90.45

Head 100 58.04 100

0.11% P

2

O

5

. The other constituents such as CaO, MgO, Na

2

O, and K

2

O were

present in small entities. The size analysis of the as received sample was carried

out by using different standard sieves down to 20 m. The size analysis of the as

received sample is shown in Table 1. The sample is extremely ne in size as more

than 90% material is less than 20 m size. It is observed that better quality iron nes

are present between the size ranges of 45 and 20 m. Since less iron is accumulated

in the ner fractions, centrifugal action involving hydrocyclone was used to enrich

the iron values present in the slime.

HYDROCYCLONE STUDIES

Hydrocyclone studies were carried out for the beneciation of iron values

through desliming of ultrane particles present in the sample. Since the sample

contained a lot of slime materials down to submicrometer size, desliming was

thought for possible upgradation of the iron values. Standard hydrocyclone

kit, of 50 mm diameter supplied by M/s Richards Mozeley (UK) was used

for hydrocyclone studies. The effect of the variables namely spigot diameter,

diameter of vortex nder, pressure, solids concentration, dispersant, and so on,

were studied.

Although attempts were made to conduct all the hydrocyclone experiments as

per full two-level factorial design with few center points, there was slight deviation

from the designed values for some parameters, as it was difcult to maintain the

parameters at the designed conditions. Additional experiments were also carried

out for better understanding of the system. The spigot diameter used for the

study was 3, 5, and 6.5mm, whereas the pressure was varied from 10 to 30psi.

The vortex nder diameters studied were 8, 11, and 14.3mm. The throughput

of hydrocyclone during the experiments was around 140780kg/h solids. The

throughput mostly depends on the solid concentration and applied pressure. Sodium

hexametaphosphate (SHMP) was used as the dispersant. It was varied from 0 to

2gms/kg of solids. The solid concentration of 9%24% by weight was used during

the experiments. The underow and overow materials were collected at a steady

state for a xed time, dried, weighed, and analyzed for the desired iron and other

constituents.

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HYDROCYCLONE FOR BENEFICIATION OF IRON ORE SLIMES 89

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Experimental Results with Hydrocyclone

The experiments were carried out using 50mm diameter hydrocyclone to get

the suitable iron value for pellet feed. It has been observed that both vortex nder

diameter and spigot diameter have inuence on the quality of underow product.

It was possible to achieve 64.2%Fe with 37.9% of iron recovery at 14.3mm vortex

nder and 3.0mm spigot diameter. By increasing the spigot diameter to 5.0mm,

the recovery of iron was enhanced to 47% but at a lesser iron grade of 63.1%Fe. The

experiments conducted with 11.0 and 8.0mm vortex nder diameter with varying

spigot diameters and pressures resulted in more materials going into the underow

compared to 14.3mm vortex nder diameter but with lower grade of iron. Under

the conditions of 8.0mm vortex nder diameter and 6.5mm spigot diameter, it was

possible to achieve 77%79% yield in underow but the grade of iron was hardly

59.8%Fe from the initial feed of 57.8%Fe. Experiments conducted using SHMP as

the dispersant resulted in better grade and yield. The iron concentrate of 63.86%Fe

with 45.4% recovery was obtainable by using a small quantity of dispersant. The

results obtained with higher vortex nder and spigot diameter indicated that iron

nes with 63.7%Fe at 52.4% recovery could be obtained. In most of the cases,

pressure had very marginal effect on both grade and recovery of iron.

The separation of ne particles can be visualized by plotting a efciency curve

of both the underow and overow fractions of the hydrocyclone stream. The key

to success in obtaining the desired iron grade lies in establishing the correct cut point

(J

50

) of the hydrocyclone through manipulation of design and operating parameters.

As most of the silica and alumina particles in Indian iron slimes are accumulated in

the ner sizes, it is desirable to separate them by the use of a suitable dispersant in

hydrocyclone. It is interesting to note that in most of the experiments, the overow

materials are less than 10 m size, indicating the nest materials being classied

by the hydrocyclone technique. The efciency curve of the hydrocyclone studies

with and without dispersant as evidenced from the size analysis data is shown in

Figure 1 for a vortex nder diameter: 14.3mm, spigot diameter: 3.0mm, pressure:

25psi, dispersant dosage: 1gms/kg, and feed solids %: 11.6.

The J

50

(corrected) of the experiments with and without dispersant are 9 and

14 m, respectively. Separation of ne particles is hindered as they agglomerate with

coarser particles and ow out as underow. With the addition of the dispersant, the

ne particles remain dispersed and are carried out as overow, thereby increasing

the J

50

size. Studies on deviation of the efciency curve from the ideal S-curve due

to the inuence of ne particles have been carried out by Kawatra and Eisele (2006).

Statistical Analysis

To nd the maximum grade and recovery possible, statistical data analysis

of the experimental data was done and models developed for optimization of the

parameters. The ranges of the various variables studied are shown in Table 2. A

total of 74 experiments that included replicates of ve experiments were used to

obtain empirical models for grade and recovery of iron in the underow. In the

present investigation, empirical models based on statistical analysis were developed

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90 S. MOHANTY AND B. DAS

Figure 1 Corrected efciency curves for iron ore slimes. Vortex nder diameter = 14.3mm, spigot

diameter = 3.0mm, pressure = 25psi, dispersant = 1gms/kg, and feed solids % = 11.6.

both for grade and recovery and were used for optimizing the variables so as to

obtain the desired grade and recovery.

Commercial package, Design Expert, was used for the present study. The

analysis of variance (ANOVA) for grade is shown in Table 3. The sum of squares

for the model is calculated using the following equation:

Model sum of squares =

n

i=1

,

2

i

n

i=1

,

i

2

n

(1)

where ,

i

is the model prediction for the ith observation and n is the number of

observations. The residual sum of squares is calculated using the following equation:

Residual sum of squares =

n

i=1

(x

i

,

i

)

2

(2)

where x

i

is the experimental value for the ith observation. The sum of squares for

each term in the model is the difference between the residual sum of squares of the

model and the residual sum of squares of the model with the term excluded. The

E-test for the model indicates the level of signicance of the model prediction and

Table 2 The upper and lower limit of the variables

Factors Variable Low High

A Spigot diameter, mm 3 6.5

B Vortex nder diameter, mm 8 14.3

C Pressure, psi 10 30

D Dispersant, gm/kg 0 2

E Feed solids, % 10 27.12

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HYDROCYCLONE FOR BENEFICIATION OF IRON ORE SLIMES 91

Table 3 ANOVA for grade of iron

Sum of Degrees of Mean E

Source squares freedom square value Prob > E

Model 127.63 6 21.27 41.96 -0.0001 Signicant

Residual 33.97 67 0.5070

Lack of t 24.88 63 0.3949 0.1737 0.9995 Not signicant

Pure error 9.10 4 2.27

the E-test for lack-of-t indicates the level of signicance of the model predicted

data not tting the observed data. For the model, the E-value is calculated using

the equation given below

E-test =

Estimate of model variance

Estimate of residual variance

(3)

and for the lack-of-t, E-value is dened as

E-test =

Estimate of residual-corrected-for-pure-error variance

Estimate of pure error variance

(4)

It was seen that the main effects, i.e., vortex nder diameter and dispersant are more

signicant compared to spigot diameter. Pressure did not seem to have signicant

effect and hence has been neglected. The quadratic effect of the spigot diameter was

more signicant than the vortex nder diameter. The interaction between the spigot

diameter and the dispersant was also found to be signicant.

The model equation obtained by regression analysis can therefore be written as

Fe grade% = 65.65069 1.82754 spigot diameter 0.11487

vortex nder diameter 2.60073 dispersant

+0.13419 spigot diameter

2

+0.019243

vortex nder diameter

2

+0.7392

spigot diameter dispersant (5)

The E-value of 41.95 at >99.99% condence level shows that the model is

signicant. The E-value of 0.17 at 99.95% condence level for lack-of-t implies that

there is no signicant lack of t compared to pure error. The comparison between

the experimental and estimated grade is shown in Figure 2.

The R

2

of 0.789 shows that the t is quite good. It should also be noted that

the error is not primarily due to the model but due to experimental error or noise,

since the lack-of-t shows that it is not signicant.

Similar analysis was carried out for recovery of iron values. The ANOVA

for recovery is shown in Table 4. The main effects, spigot diameter, vortex nder

diameter, pressure, dispersant, solid percent as well as square of dispersant and

interaction of spigot diameter, and vortex nder diameter have most signicant

effect on the recovery. The square of spigot diameter as well as two-parameter

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92 S. MOHANTY AND B. DAS

Figure 2 Comparison of experimental and predicted grade.

interaction of spigot diameter and solid percent, vortex nder diameter and pressure,

and dispersant and solid percent were less signicant. Three and higher parameter

interaction were not signicant and hence have been excluded. The E-value of 76.83

for the model implies that the model is signicant at >99.99% condence level. The

E-value of 15.07 for lack-of-t at 0.83% condence level implies that the lack-of-t

is quite signicant. This implies that the error in prediction is primarily due to the

model compared to experimental error or noise. The model equation obtained by

regression analysis can therefore be written as

Fe recovery % = 39.17641 +11.89891 spigot diameter 0.16651

vortex nder diameter +0.325334 pressure

+13.08777 dispersant 0.76444 feed solids

0.04704 spigot diameter

2

7.40765 dispersant

2

Table 4 The ANOVA for recovery of iron

Sum of Degrees of Mean E

Source squares freedom square value Prob > E

Model 10603.6 11 963.964 76.83 -0.0001 Signicant

Residual 777.93 62 12.55

Lack of t 774.39 58 13.35 15.07 0.0083 Signicant

Pure error 3.55 4 0.8863

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HYDROCYCLONE FOR BENEFICIATION OF IRON ORE SLIMES 93

0.58395 spigot diameter vortex nder diameter

0.00017 spigot diameter feed slidos

0.01044 vortex nder diameter pressure

0.17443 dispersant feed solid (6)

Figure 3 shows a comparison between the experimental and estimated

recovery. The R

2

value of 0.9316 implies that the model t is very good. The normal

plots of the difference between the observed and predicted values of grade and

recovery, i.e., the residuals are shown in the Figures 4 and 5, respectively. For a

good model, the residual should be normally distributed, i.e., the points should lie

on a straight line. Hence, it can be seen that the errors for both recovery and grade

are well distributed.

The models were then used to get the best set of design and operating

parameters so as to maximize grade and recovery. Since the recovery decreases

with an increase in grade, the minimum acceptable grade and recovery were xed

along with other criteria for optimization as shown in Table 5. Optimization of the

process parameters were carried out using built-in optimizer of Design Expert, that

uses NelderMead multidimensional pattern search technique. The ten best possible

optimal solutions are shown in Table 6. From Table 6, it can be seen that maximum

grade of 65.44% can be obtained at 55% recovery and maximum recovery of 56.41%

can be obtained with a grade of 64.32% by varying various design and process

parameters.

Figure 3 Comparison of experimental and predicted recovery.

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94 S. MOHANTY AND B. DAS

Figure 4 Normal plot of residuals for grade.

Figure 5 Normal plot of residuals for recovery.

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HYDROCYCLONE FOR BENEFICIATION OF IRON ORE SLIMES 95

Table 5 Criteria for parameter optimization of the hydrocyclone

Parameter Minimum Maximum

Spigot diameter, mm 3 6.5

Vortex nder diameter, mm 8 14.3

Pressure, psi 10 25

Dispersant, g/kg 0 2

Feed solids, % 10 25

Fe grade underow, % 60

Fe recovery underow, % 50

Table 6 Iron grade and recovery under the best optimizing conditions

Spigot Vortex nder Feed Fe-grade Fe recovery

diameter, diameter, Pressure, Dispersant, solids, underow, underow,

Number mm mm psi gm/kg % % %

1 6.50 12.58 25.00 2.00 10.01 65.44 55.00

2 6.50 12.51 24.89 2.00 10.18 65.42 55.02

3 6.50 12.37 20.88 2.00 10.00 65.37 55.03

4 6.50 11.98 12.78 2.00 10.00 65.23 55.00

5 6.50 11.78 18.39 2.00 11.79 65.16 55.00

6 6.50 11.65 12.57 2.00 11.27 65.11 55.00

7 6.50 11.50 25.00 2.00 10.00 65.07 59.48

8 6.49 10.97 25.00 1.83 18.85 64.52 54.94

9 6.50 14.23 10.19 1.23 10.00 64.43 55.00

10 6.50 8.77 10.00 2.00 19.96 64.32 56.41

CONCLUSIONS

Iron values from iron ore slimes can be recovered by manipulating the design

and operating variables of the hydrocyclone with proper choice of dispersant. From

the statistical data analysis, it is seen that the effect of spigot diameter, vortex nder

diameter, and the interaction of spigot diameter and dispersant play signicant

role on the grade of iron. The model equation obtained by regression analysis

for grade of iron is signicant at >99.99% condence level. For the recovery of

iron, the effect of spigot diameter, vortex nder diameter, pressure, dispersant,

solid percent, square of dispersant, and interaction of spigot and vortex nder

diameter are most signicant. The equation obtained for recovery of iron by

regression analysis was signicant at 99.99% condence level. The comparison of

experimental and estimated grade and recovery of iron by the model equations are

quite good. Under optimal conditions predicted by the model, an iron recovery

of 59.5% can be obtained with 65.07% grade of iron. The values for the variables

predicted by the model are 11.50mm for vortex nder diameter, 25psi for pressure,

2gms/kg of dispersant, and 10% solids concentration. It will, therefore, be possible

to obtain around 65% Fe with around 60% recovery by using these combinations in

hydrocyclone for iron ore slimes being generated at Indian iron ore mines.

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96 S. MOHANTY AND B. DAS

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

The authors are thankful to Director, Institute of Minerals and Materials

Technology, Bhubaneswar for his kind permission to publish this paper.

REFERENCES

Anderson, M. J. and Whitcomp, P. J., 1996, Optimize your process-optimization efforts.

Chemical Engineering Progress, 92(12), pp. 5160.

Das, B., Ansari, M. I., and Mishra, D. D., 1993, Effective separation of Barsua iron ore

slimes using hydrocyclone. Mineral & Metallurgical Processing, 10(1), pp. 5255.

Das, B., Prakash, S., Mohapatra, B. K., Bhaumik, S. K., and Narasimahan, K. S.,

1992, Beneciation of iron ore slimes using hydrocyclone. Mineral & Metallurgical

Processing, 9(2), pp. 101103.

Karr, C. L., Donald, A., Stanley, D. A., and McWhorter, B., 2000, Optimization of

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