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Material balancing-a method generalized solution

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Material balancing-a

method

R. I. Mackie

Minerals

and Metals

Division,

Warren

Spring

Laboratory,

Stevenage,

Herts,

UK

A method for the solution of material balancing problems encountered in mineral processing is described. The method makes use of the highly structured nature of the equations encountered, thus

resulting in savings in computer storage space and computation time. One of the key advantages of

the method is that it is presented in a very general way and can therefore be used to solve a wide

variety of balancing problems. In particular, the method enables constraints imposed upon individual

streams (e.g., sum of size distribution must equal 100%) to be handled at very little extra cost, whereas

most other balances tend not to deal with these sorts of constraints.

Keywords:

Introduction

A mineral treatment plant can consist of many interconnected unit processes, and in order to operate the

plant efficiently it is necessary to have an accurate

picture of what is happening at all parts of the circuit.

However, data collection is an expensive task, and the

raw data will be contradictory; e.g., the measured mass

flow entering the circuit will not equal the measured

mass flow leaving the circuit. Therefore the data have

to be balanced in order to produce data that are consistent. This is a task which lends itself readily to computer methods, and programs to do this have been

available for many years. The first material balances

were written for mainframe computers, and a useful

review can be found in Reid et al. With the advent of

microcomputers these methods are now readily available to the plant engineer, and Warren Spring Laboratory (WSL) has produced balance programs for use

on microcomputers.*

However, the microcomputer

balances shared the common problem of limitations on

the problem size that can be dealt with. There are also

potentially many sorts of balances that can be carried

out, ranging from balancing only the total mass flow

to balancing total mass flow, pulp density, size/specific

gravity (SG) distribution, and assay data. This paper

describes a method that breaks down the problem into

smaller components, thereby reducing the storage space

needed, reducing the time of computation and providing the framework for a much more general solution

process.

of streams and nodes (Figure I). The nodes can either

be unit processes or complete subsections of the plant

(e.g., flotation circuit). For each stream some or all of

the following data can be measured: total flow rate,

pulp density, size distribution, SG distribution, and

assays.

These measurements can be obtained in a variety

of ways, ranging from accurate on-line measurement

and laboratory analysis to an educated guess. To deal

with this variation in the reliability of the data, we can

assign confidence values to each data element, higher

values being given to measurements believed to be

very accurate and low values to measurements known

to be subject to large errors. So if x$ (j = 1,n) are the

measurements taken for each stream, and if there are

N streams, the problem is to minimize the function

E = 5

WU(xti - x8)

i=l

data element. If Wti is taken to be the confidence factor

divided by the square of the measurement, then the

balance minimizes the percentage change made to each

data element and tends to make the smallest changes

to those measurements with the highest confidence

factors. In addition, the data will be subject to certain

constraints; these can be split into two categories:

Stevenage, Herts SGl 2BX, UK.

Dr. R. I. Mackie is now in the Department

The University, Dundee, DDl 4HN, UK.

Received December

(1) stream constraints; e.g., the sum of the size distribution must equal 100%; the sum of the size

assays must equal the total assay.

(2) nodal constraints; i.e., the total mass of each com-

0 1989 Butterworth

Publishers

of Civil Engineering,

149

Material

balancing-a

generalized

solution method:

R. I. Mackie

Stream 1 data

Stream n data

Stream constraints

1 Lagrange

multipliers

Nodal constraints Lagrange multipliers

Once the equations have been set up, they will have

the general structure

(Z3 (;)=(i)

Figure 1.

nodes

must equal the total mass of each component leaving the node.

These constraints can be introduced into the problem by means of Lagrange multipliers. The solution is

then obtained by calculating the gradient vector and

setting it equal to zero. This produces a set of simultaneous equations. Depending on how the problem is

formulated, the equations can be linear or nonlinear.

Details can be found in Cutting.3

The drawback of this technique is that it considerably increases the number of variables and, hence, the

problem size. One method of overcoming this problem

has been developed as a result of recent work, commissioned by Warren Spring Laboratory, at Thames

Polytechnic by Simpson er ~1.~ Simpsons approach

views the flowsheet as a set of independent flow paths,

rather than as a set of streams and nodes. The difference can be seen by comparing Figure 2 with Figure

1. The optimization is now carried out on the flows in

the independent paths, and the nodal constraints are

automatically taken care of. This significantly reduces

the size of the problem. An alternative is presented

here which takes account of the highly structured nature of the problem, and the method is formulated in

completely general terms.

the Lagrange multipliers (the superscript t indicates

the transpose matrix). A signiticant saving over solving

the original system directly can be obtained by solving

this system. This is done as follows: expanding (2)

gives

DX+PY=A

(3)

PX = B

(4)

Therefore

X = D-(A

Substituting

- PY)

(5)

(PD-P)Y

= PD-A

- B

(7)

D,

where Di is the matrix associated

the structure

Math. Modelling,

El

, p3

solving directly the set of simultaneous equations.

However, the system of equations is extremely sparse

and highly structured. The method about to be described accounts for this, and so reduces the storage

space needed and computation time. The method will

first be described in general terms and then illustrated

by a particular example.

Suppose there are n streams. Then arrange the data

in the following order:

Appl.

(6)

The system of equations for Y is substantially smaller

than the original system. Also if the problem is suitably

linearized, D is diagonal, and so calculating its inverse

presents no problem.

Further savings can be obtained by further examining the structure of D, P, A, and B. D has the form

Equation structure

150

(2)

Figure 2.

Flowsheet as independent

paths

Material

Li

i

Mi

balancing-a

generalized

solution method:

R. I. Mackie

(8)

L, Mr,

(15)

where Li is the matrix associated with the stream Lagrange multipliers for stream i, and M, is the nodal

Lagrange multiplier matrix associated with stream i.

X can be written as

X=(Xi,...,X#

(9)

for stream i. Y can be written as

stream variables

(10)

associated with stream i, and Z is the vector of nodal

Lagrange multipliers. A has the form

(Ai, * . . ,ArJ

(11)

where Ai is associated

(12)

where Bj is associated with the stream Lagrange multipliers for stream i, and BZ with the nodal Lagrange

multipliers.

Using this decomposition, we can write the left side

of equation (6) as

PD-P

f...

. . . Lk)r...

M;...@

u;.**u:,

where

Vi = L:DD;Li

Ui = LID; M;

W = EMIDiMi

(K, * . . 3 Yn, a*

= [;

as

D-

; )

Ui = LID;-Ai - Bi

b = EMiD; Ai - BZ

(16)

i= 12 . . . 3n

Vi Y; + UiZ = U;,

CU:Y/+

Therefore

WZ=b

(17)

(18)

Y, = v; (a; - U;Z)

(19)

and so

(W - Z U:V;Ui)Z

= b - ~ U:V;Ui

(20)

can be used to obtain the Yi.

Equation (5) can then be written as

(1;)

=ir-.

..,3

L,,M,

L1D;

Al

LLD,

1

kf\D; . . . MLD,

L:D;

:I

Mi

.

L Mn

- LiYi - MiZ)

(22)

which gives

Xi = Di(Ai

The advantages of the above method are that the

system of equations for Z is again smaller than the

system in equation (6). Also with suitable linearization

the matrices Dj and Vi will often be diagonal, so inversion is again no problem. Even in the cases when

the Vi are not diagonal, they will be quite small matrices

with few off-diagonal terms.

LLD, M,

MrD;L, . . . M,D,L,

(21)

[ii All

L: D, M,

L:D, L,

CM:D; M;

/ L:D;

Example

M~DD;

. . MLD,

(14)

example: Suppose that there are n streams and m nodes.

For each node estimates are made of the total solids

mass flow and size distribution (d size fractions). Mi

is the total mass flow for stream i, and sii (j = 1, . . . ,

d) is the percent size distribution. The function to be

minimized is

151

Material

balancing-a

generalized

solution

L

method:

R. I. Mackie

Mi has the general form

(23)

s:

. ..s& o...o-s:

(24)

and d constraints

C Qi,_MiSy = 0

I

(25a)

enters node L, QiL = - 1 if stream i leaves node L,

and Qil = 0 otherwise. Equation (25) can be linearized

in the following way (WiegeP):

+ x

Yi = (Hi)

(34)

Z = (Gii,. ** 9GNd)t

and A, B, and BZ by

Ai = 2 (WiM$ywiisz,.

. . ) Wins%)

(35)

(25b)

Once the Lagrange multipliers (Hi and GLj) have been

introduced, the minimization function becomes

W;(Mi - M$)

upon which node stream i enters and which node it

leaves. Xi, Yi, and 2 are given by

Bi = (1)

E = C

Wo(S; - Sf)

new method.

~~Hi(~s~-

(26)

given by

= 2Wi(M,

I

g,

=

u

- MT) + x GLjQiLSt

(27)

Lj

(28)

$+j-l

.i

gj

QiL(Mis& + M:s,

M~s:)

(30)

Di is the diagonal matrix

/Wi

(31)

(O,I,...,I)

152

are as follows:

1) +iGLj

$,

.o...o

-MY

wii are the associated weighting factors. There is one

constraint for each stream,

Tti=

. ..-s$

(32)

(2) Calculate Did, U,, Vi, W, U, and b.

(3) Calculate W - XUiV;Ui.

(4) Solve for Z.

(5) Calculate Y;s.

(6) Calculate Xis*

One of the key points is that the solution method is

now generalized to deal with any sort of bal,ancing

problem. Separate modules will deal with the particular

formulation of D, Li, M, A, and B for the problem at

hand.

Often the problem can be formulated in such a way

that the matrices Vi are diagonal, which means that

calculating its inverse is no problem. This was the case

in the above example. It will also be the case whenever

each row of Li has only one nonzero entry and D is

diagonal. For then the elements of Vi are given by

(V;)pg = 2 (Li)kp(D; )k(Li)kq

(36)

nonzero, which is true if and only if p = 4. Therefore

Vi is diagonal. There may be no stream constraints at

all. This occurs if the only measurement taken apart

from the solids mass flow was one or more metal assays, the sum of which need not total 100%. Even if

Vi is not diagonal it is likely to be sparse and will also

be small in comparison to W. Therefore inverting it is

unlikely to require an unacceptable computational time.

Material

balancing-a

generalized

solution method:

R. I. Mackie

Where total mass flow and size distribution are measured the problem size is as follows:

D,

= 1+ d

Numberofvariablesper

stream

Number of constraints per stream = 1

= d

Number of constraints per node

Therefore the total number of variables in the complete

system of equations is n*(l + d) + n + m*d, where

n is the number of streams and m the number of nodes.

For the partially reduced system in equation (4) the

number of variables is n + m*d and for the fully reduced system, m*d.

For a system with 4 size fractions, 27 nodes, and

54 streams, the complete system has 432 variables, the

partially reduced system 162, and the fully reduced

system 108. To obtain the size of matrix to be stored,

all these figures have to be squared, and this gives

186,624, 26,244, and 11,664, respectively. This highlights the saving made. Storage space is not the only

saving. The amount of work required to solve a set of

simultaneous linear equations is proportional to the

cube of the number of variables, so there is also a

considerable saving here as well. In the above example

using the partially reduced system, the time for one

iteration was 6.6 CPU seconds, whereas the new method

took 1.O CPU seconds (both times being on a MicroVAX

II computer). The saving is due to solving a smaller

set of equations, and the decomposition generally leads

to a more efficient program.

(37)

Tl

there are no equivalents of the stream constraints for

the transfer coefficients, P will have the form

L,

(38)

has same form as in (8) except that W is now

given by

PD-P

W = 2 M:D;Mi

+ x M;+,T;M,+,

If there are some constraints relating the transfer coefficients within each group, P will have exactly the same

form as in (8).

Conclusion

Combining

simulation

mass balancing

and flowsheet

costly exercise. Therefore it will often be that the data

are incomplete. One possible solution to this problem

is to use mathematical models to provide additional

data. This is already done in SUPERBAL for nonstandard nodes. Nonstandard nodes are found in

grinding or leaching circuits. At a grinding mill the

conservation of mass for each size fraction breaks down

because of the size reduction, and in a leaching circuit

at certain nodes material will be going into or out of

solution. One solution is to ignore the size constraint

in the case of size reduction nodes. However, an alternative solution is to use a simple mathematical model

to represent the degree of size reduction occurring.

This idea can be extended to normal nodes where no

size transfer or dissolution occurs, and transfer coefficients can be introduced as additional data elements.

The transfer coefficients can be derived in various ways,

e.g., using mathematical models, using results of experimental work, using the plant engineers experience.

Using transfer coefficients introduces additional

variables and constraints into the problem. However,

as will now be shown, the general solution method

described above still applies. The D matrix now has

the form

The equations arising out of material balancing problems are of a highly structured form. A method has

been described that expresses the structure in a form

applicable to a wide variety of problems, and a general

solution scheme is presented using this structure. This

method results in a considerable saving in the storage

space required, and also in the computation time. Both

these savings are very significant in the writing of balancing software for microcomputers. Although the above

discussion has concentrated upon the fully linear problem, the nonlinear problem can usually be linearized

in such a way as to enable the above method to be

used.

The method makes full use of the structure of the

stream constraint part of the equations, but part of the

equation structure that has not been fully developed

is that of the matrices M (the nodal constraint matrices). Simpsons method, on the other hand, makes full

use of this structure. If the present method and Simpsons method could be combined, the result would be

an even more efficient method. (This is the key difference between the two methods.) The possibility of

doing this should be investigated.

Notation

d

D

matrix associated with stream variables

153

Material

balancing-a

generalized

solution method:

M;, MI

i

:Jl

P

sij

w,w

x, x*

X

Y

number of nodes

number of streams

matrix associated with Lagrange multipliers

fraction in size interval j of stream i

weighting factors

adjusted and measured readings

vector of adjusted measurements

vector of Lagrange multipliers

R. I. Mackie

References

1

1976, 3, 207-218

Subscripts

i

stream number

size fraction

154

of material balance packages in the minerals industry. Seventeenth Application of Computers and Operations Research in

the Minerals Industry, AIME, New York, 1982

Tucker, P. Material balancing software-what

does the future

hold. ht. Mining April 1988

Cutting, G. W. Estimation of interlocking mass balances on

complex mineral benefication plants. Znt. J. Mineral Processing

Simpson, D. E., Everett, M. G., and Voller, V.R. Reducing the

unknowns in a constrained minimisation problem-an

application to material balances. App. Math. Modelling 1988, 12(2),

204-212

Weigel, R. L. Advances in mineral processing material balances.

Canadian Metallurgical

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