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International Journal of Mineral Processing xxx (2014) xxxxxx

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An energy based comparison of vertical roller mills and tumbling mills

A. Boehm a,, P. Meissner b, T. Plochberger c
Institute of Mineral Processing, Montanuniversitaet Leoben, Max Tendler Strasse 4, 8700 Leoben, Austria
Institute of Mineral Processing, Montanuniversitaet Leoben, Max Tendler Strasse 4, 8700 Leoben, Austria
CEMTEC Cement and Mining Technology, Ennshafenstrasse 40, 4470 Enns, Austria

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: The Institute of Mineral Processing at the Montanuniversitaet Leoben in cooperation with the company CEMTEC
Received 2 January 2014 has developed a pilot scale, 200 mm table diameter, vertical roller mill for energy controlled laboratory tests. The
Received in revised form 19 September 2014 mill provides the technical options to vary process parameters like air-ow, mass ow, grinding force and clas-
Accepted 24 September 2014
sier speed in a wide range and is equipped to analyze the internal circulating load. In order to address grinding
Available online xxxx
efciency (dened as the increase in mass specic surface vs. net specic energy input) the energy consumption
of two pilot scale vertical roller mills (200 mm and 670 mm table diameter) was compared to that of a sequence
Vertical roller mill of laboratory comminution equipment covering the same size range. The sequence consisting of a laboratory jaw
Tumbling mill crusher and three laboratory tumbling mills of differing grinding media was operated following the principles of
Energy efciency energy optimized comminution according to the OCS-method. With respect to the grinding energy only all the
Optimized comminution sequence method results for marble, siderite and hematite ore show energy savings when using the vertical roller mill at optimized
(OCS) settings. The methods used are outlined including the special features of the equipment.
2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction below 10 kW power supply was measured mechanically. The specic

energy consumption related to the generated mass of nes and the
Comminution is one of the most energy intensive mechanical treat- characterization of the dispersity by the Kozeny surface form the basis
ments in common mineral processing plants. In consideration of of comparison.
increasing energy prices and the demand for sustainable industrial
processes the reduction of energy expense attracts more and more
2. Methods, equipment and materials
attention. Although the potential of alternative methods such as high
voltage treatment or material's pretreatment by ultrasonic or micro-
2.1. The OCS method
waves is intensively investigated, tumbling mills and vertical roller
mills still represent the state of the art of comminution in a size range
The concept (Steiner, 1991) of energy optimized comminution
between 102 and 102 mm. The vertical roller mill equipped with an
(OCS) is based on the idea to establish a comminution process at
internal classier is often said to be more energy efcient than tumbling
least at the laboratory scale that minimizes the energy expense (e)
mills working on the same material and the same size step (e.g. Gerold
for a given size reduction step i (refer Fig. 1). According to Steiner the
et al., 2012). It is long established in the cement industry and gains more
general principles of energy optimized comminution (which does not
and more importance in the industrial mineral and iron ore sectors. In
necessarily correspond to cost optimized comminution) are dened as
order to address the energy consumption of the grinding tools a labora-
tory as well as a pilot scale vertical roller mill were benchmarked by the
Subdivide a given total comminution step into a sequence of size
reduction steps of low size reduction ratio using comminution tools
The lab scale comminution tools used in this (energy) optimized
optimized to the feed size. For an optimum mechanical energy transfer
comminution sequence (OCS) are arranged and operated in a way to
from the comminution tool to the material, keep the amount of nes as
reveal the minimum energy expense for a dened size reduction step.
small and the retention time of nes after their generation in the
The energy input into the grinding chamber of all the lab systems
comminution chamber as short as possible. The nes cause the absorp-
tion of energy due to compaction. A closed circuit design with
prescreening and high circulating load result from these requirements.
Corresponding author at: Institute of Mineral Processing, Montanuniversitaet Leoben,
Max Tendler Strasse 4, Leoben 8700, Austria. Tel.: +43 3842 402 1804, +43 664 80898
The general setup of an OCS is shown in Fig. 1.
1804 (mobile). Close to Bond's method the continuous operation is simulated in
E-mail address: (A. Boehm). each step by batch wise comminution with pre- and intermediate
0301-7516/ 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Please cite this article as: Boehm, A., et al., An energy based comparison of vertical roller mills and tumbling mills, Int. J. Miner. Process. (2014),
2 A. Boehm et al. / International Journal of Mineral Processing xxx (2014) xxxxxx

2.2. Tumbling mills and jaw crushers

The sequence to evaluate the vertical roller mills consisted of a labo-

ratory jaw crusher, a rod mill and two ball mill stages with differing
i-1 ei-1 grinding media. The dimensions and settings of the laboratory mills
S Z are given in Table 1 and are illustrated in details in (Boehm and
Flachberger, 2006). The jaw crusher used is a standard jaw crusher
ei-1 (RETSCH BB 100). The gap width is usually set to obtain a product size
of 100% 6.3 mm at a circulating load of 50%. The size reduction ratio
should not exceed 1:4. The rod mill is typically operated within the
S Z ei size reduction step 100% 6.3 to 100% 1 mm at a circulating load of
100%. The mass specic energy input eRod [J/kg] is derived from
Eq. (2). Details are given in Steiner (1996). Calibration by means of
ei torque measurement revealed a dimensionless power conversion factor
for the mechanical power transferred into the material cp of 1.1. The
mass of grinding media (MK, kg) and the inner diameter (Di, m) are
i+1 ei+1
S Z listed in Table 1. The number of revolutions (U, 1) is adjusted to the de-
sired circulating load, which is dened as the mass of recycled material
ei+1 to the mass of produced nes (MF, kg). g (m/s2) corresponds to the
gravitational constant.

eRod cp  g  MK  Di  2
Fig. 1. The optimized comminution sequence (OCS) (Steiner, 1991). Flow sheet of the cir- MF
cuit design of the laboratory comminution (Z) and classication (S) apparatus.

The tumbling mill used with different types of grinding media is

equipped with a torque rod for direct energy measurement. The size
reduction steps are set to 100% 1 mm to 100% 0.2 mm for ball
screening and classication respectively. Common laboratory commi- milling and 100% 0.2 to 100% 0.04 mm using the cylpebs. The
nution equipment (jaw crushers, rod mills, ball mills) is arranged in mean torque (Md, Nm) with time derived from the recorded data to-
the sequence. The circulating load is adjusted to 100% for rod mill oper- gether with the number of mill revolutions (U, 1) serves to calculate
ation, to 250% and 300% for mill operations using balls and cylpebs the specic energy consumption (eBM, J/kg) related to the produced
respectively. The energy input into the grinding chamber is controlled nes (MF, kg) (Eq. (3)).
by torque measurement. All intermediate classication down to
200 m is done by manual screening, which can be kept closest to 2   Md  U
eBM 3
ideal classication at a given separation size. For the 40 m circuit a MF
laboratory air classier (Hosokawa, 100MZR) is used. To all experi-
mental evidence at the Institute of Mineral Processing at the
Montanuniversitaet Leoben up to now, the method reveals the product 2.3. The vertical roller mills VRM200 and VRM600
size distribution of the lowest variety of particle size classes at a given
maximum particle size. The VRM200 is a laboratory scale vertical roller mill with two trun-
For homogenous materials the size distribution often linearizes in cated conical grinding rollers (LOESCHE system) of 133 mm mean
the Gates, Gaudin, and Schuhmann (GGS) plot indicating a potential diameter, a cross ow rotary cage classier with a wheel diameter of
relation between the particle size and the percentage passing. As no 160 mm, a bag lter and full sensor conguration. The mill table has a
other machinery was found up to now to produce a distribution of diameter of 200 mm allowing a maximum throughput rate of about
steeper inclination it is considered to be material inherent and is called 240 kg limestone per hour at a classier setting of d98 = 200 m. The
the natural breakage characteristic (NBC) according to Steiner. mill is described in more detail in Meissner et al. (2012). Fig. 2 gives
Plotting the mass specic surfaces of the feed and the products insight into the grinding chamber. A special feature of this mill is the
determined by permeametry versus the assigned mass specic energy external classier drawback that makes the coarse product of the classi-
consumption, the course of measurement results can be tted best er accessible. The experiments however were carried out in common
by a straight line. As the experimental ndings (down to kmax mode with the drawback disabled.
of 40 m) indicate linear dependence between new generated surface The mill power draw is measured by a torque rod situated in line
(a, cm2/g) and energy input (e, J/g) in the limiting case of energy op- with the main drive shaft. The specic power consumption
timized comminution, the line is called the Rittinger line (Eq. (1)). The eVRM200 in J/kg could be calculated by the control system according
inclination as the measure of the material's grindability is called the to Eq. (3). Details of the VRM600 in the CEMTEC laboratory are pub-
Rittinger coefcient (R, cm2/J). lished in Gleissenberg and Hofmann (2008). The mill table diameter is
around 670 mm forced by three conical grinding rollers of 430 mm

a R  e 1 Table 1
Tumbling mills parameters.

Size or parameter Rod mill Ball mill Cylpeb mill

Apart from the evaluation of grindability in tumbling mills and
Inner shell diameter, [m] 0.150 0.200 0.200
benchmarking grinding systems, the method provides reproducible Length, [m] 0.3 0.2 0.2
size distributions, characteristic for one type of material, which is need- Mass of grinding media, [kg] 70.47.4 9 12
ed e.g. for integrated intergrowth investigations. The grindability index Percentage of critical speed, [%] 70 70 70
R varies between 20 cm2/J for low grindability (thermally compacted Degree of lling, [vol-%] 40 40 40
Circulating load, [%] 100 250 300
slags) and 150 cm2/J (unconsolidated limestone).

Please cite this article as: Boehm, A., et al., An energy based comparison of vertical roller mills and tumbling mills, Int. J. Miner. Process. (2014),
A. Boehm et al. / International Journal of Mineral Processing xxx (2014) xxxxxx 3

size class with dened size limits by means of the surface equivalent
particle size (Eq. (4)). The surface equivalent particle size (kequ, m) is
deduced from the M2,3 moment of the density function tting the
best the measured size distribution. The shape factor, which is consid-
ered to be constant for all the size classes, allows the calculation of the
mass specic surfaces of those size classes beyond the measuring
range by (Eq. (4)). The method is described in detail in Boeh, (2010).

f kequ  av 4

2.6. Tested materials

In order to cover a range of grindabilities but to avoid differential

grinding behavior, marble of constant composition (provenience:
Austria, density 2.71 g/cm3), a spateisenstein concentrate from the
Steirische Erzberg (provenience: Austria, average density 3.51 g/cm3)
Fig. 2. VRM200 laboratory vertical roller mill. Institute of Mineral Processing, mainly consisting of the siderite variety spateisenstein and ankerite as
Montanuniversitaet Leoben. View on the grinding table, feed tube and the two conically well as hematitic sinter nes from the Ukraine (average density
shaped rollers, adjustable in distance to the table. 4.65 g/cm3), were used as feed materials. The comminution resistances
characterized by the Rittinger index (refer to Fig. 3) were found to be
mean diameter. The power draw is derived from the system data of the 68 cm2/J for the marble, 51 cm2/J for the siderite ore and 40 cm2/J for
main frequency converter. the hematite ore.
The materials were all crushed and screened to a maximum feed size
2.4. Test settings of the vertical roller mills of 8 mm in case of the VRM200. For the VRM600 the materials were
crushed in open circuit to a maximum feed size of about 14 mm.
The main process factors to vary are the grinding pressure, the table
speed, the classier speed, the air ow and pressure drop and feed rate 3. Results and discussion
respectively. The feed of the VRM600 (100% 14 mm) was scalped at
8 mm to obtain the feed for the VRM200. The size distributions were Fig. 3 summarizes all the results. The drawbacks of permeametry in
not changed during the various settings. measuring absolute surface values are widely discussed. Applying the
Over all experiments stable process conditions must be guaranteed. method for relative comparison the obtained results are signicant
A constant pressure drop (at xed feed rate), constant air ow, a stable within the variation limits of 5%. Regarding the reliability of the
mass balance (feed mass equals product mass) and stable product torque measurement, the torque rods of the VRM200 and the ball mill
neness over a 1.5 hour period are taken as the constraints for valid are calibrated and controlled in static mode. The energy consumption
experimental setting. The mill parameter settings for both mills are of the VRM600 includes losses of the motor and the drive, while the
shown in Table 2. torque rods measure the energy input into the grinding chamber.
To guarantee an energy optimized grinding process, at the parame- Referring to Fig. 3 the points of measurement for the roller mills
ter settings given in Table 2, the mass throughput was pushed to the are not interpolated by a curve, as all the products of the roller
limit until one stability criterion was violated. Three respective four mills result from the same maximum feed size (100% 14 mm re-
mill products of varying neness per mill and material were used for spectively 100% 8 mm). By connecting every single point with
benchmarking. The neness was dened by the classier speed. the origin, one will nd the grindability assigned to every vertical
mill test. The data of the OCS however were collected in series,
2.5. Specic surface measurement with decreasing feed size for subsequent comminution steps.
The linear relation between mass specic surface and the cumulative
The mass specic surfaces of all the comminution products were energy consumption within the OCS was found experimentally for all
measured by permeametry. An average value was calculated out of the tested materials up to a surface of 4000 Blaine and energy inputs
two obtained by Blaine's apparatus and two by the Permaran of up to 80 kWh/t. Results achieved by arbitrary comminution tools situat-
Outokumpu respectively. For evaluating the entire surface of coarse ed right from the Rittinger line indicate less energy efcient systems.
comminution products (500 cm2/g) the method combines the mea- At the Institute of Mineral Processing at Montanuniversitaet Leoben
surement of the Kozeny surface in the two smallest size classes and the material characteristics the natural breakage characteristic (NBC),
the calculation of the specic surface in the remaining upper size the Rittinger index (R) and the shape factor (f) have been recorded in
classes. this way for more than 30 years to characterize the comminution
The measurement of the specic surface in the sieve size classes (e.g. behavior in tumbling mills.
100 + 40 m and 40 m) is followed by the derivation of a material All the results achieved by the VRM200 and the VRM600 are situated
related shape factor (f, 1) from the measured surface (aV, m1) of the to left of the Rittinger line and thus clearly indicate lower energy
consumption to obtain the same increase of mass specic surface.
In order to compare the results of the two roller mills and to put
Table 2 them in relation to data given in literature the term energy savings
VRM parameter settings.
is dened as the difference of the energy consumptions of the vertical
VRM200 VRM600 mill and OCS at a given surface related to the energy consumption
Table speed, [rev/min] 92 65 derived from the OCS.
Normative grinding pressure, [kN/m2] 600 670 The energy savings of the vertical roller mill decrease for marble and
Classier speed, [rev/min] 6004000 6002600 hematite with increasing surface from about 62% at 2000 Blaine and
Air ow, [m3/h] 840 5000 3400 Blaine respectively to 35% at 6000 Blaine. For the siderite ore the
Distance roller to table, [mm] 0.8 5
energy savings show different behavior increasing from 48% at 3000

Please cite this article as: Boehm, A., et al., An energy based comparison of vertical roller mills and tumbling mills, Int. J. Miner. Process. (2014),
4 A. Boehm et al. / International Journal of Mineral Processing xxx (2014) xxxxxx

VRM200 marble VRM200 siderite VRM200 hemate
mass specific surface, cm/g

8000 VRM600 marble VRM600 siderite VRM600 hemate



R = 68 cm/J R = 51 cm/J R = 40 cm/J

0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180

cumulative mass specific

energy consumption, J/g

Fig. 3. Results of energy measurement. Results of the cumulative mass specic energy vs. the generated mass specic surface obtained by the OCS method and vertical roller mills for cal-
cite, siderite ore concentrate and hematite ore concentrate.

Blaine to 60% at 6000 Blaine. Reasons for this may be found in the min- In order to obtain a steep particle size distribution with a low
eral structure showing extraordinary increase in the surface below content of nes beyond 40 m at a maximum particle size of 1 mm com-
40 m. parable to that of the rod mill (620 Blaine), additional grinding tests
Compared to the VRM200 the savings for the VRM600 are signi- with the siderite ore using the VRM200 in overow mode and circulat-
cantly lower in the range beyond 6000 Blaine depending on the type ing load of 100% adjusted by a screen (0.5 mm) were made. The table
of material (about 15% for the marble, 25% for the siderite and 1.5% for speed was set too high for the buildup of a particle bed. There were no
the hematite). energy savings to be found compared to the rod mill. This may serve
The difference in the behavior of the roller mills can be explained on as an additional hint that energy savings result from the better energy
the one hand by the different design of the classiers. At the VRM200 utilization in the particle bed compared to that of stochastic grinding
the classier operates most efciently between cut sizes (d98) from in tumbling mills.
70 to 100 m, while the classier on the VRM600 is optimized for d98 More detailed experiments are subject of ongoing research work to
from 10 to 25 m. On the other hand the much higher throughput rate understand the interaction of high circulating load, classier efciency
and restrictions in experimental time conned the search for the opti- and energy utilization in the particle bed.
mum settings for each material. In addition the energy data of the
VRM600 contain the losses of the motor and the drive. 4. Conclusions
According to the most frequent application of vertical mills most of
the data reported in literature refer to cement and slag. From data pub- The paper aimed to provide traceable measurement results to
lished by Joergensen (2004), energy savings for grinding ordinary compare the energy consumption for grinding only of ball mills and
Portland cement (OPC) at increasing mass specic surface from 3200 vertical roller mills using lab scale equipment. At similar stress condi-
to 3900 Blaine from 32% to 48% can be calculated. Including the energy tions to industrial mills the energy input into the material could thus
expense for classifying and transport the savings drop to 24 and 39% be obtained by using torque rods, that are free of the losses immanent
respectively. Slag cement of higher comminution resistance is reported to power measurement at the power supply. In addition the settings
to have even better savings (50% respectively 36% at 3640 Blaine). For of the apparatus can be adjusted to an optimum with respect to the
the nominal same type of material different results can be derived specic energy consumption by increasing the throughput rate to a
from (Fahrland and Zysk (2013) for OPC with 14% at 3200 Blaine up maximum at stable conditions for the vertical roller mills and by using
to 26% at 4000 Blaine and from 48% at 3600 to 58% at 5000 Blaine for the optimized comminution sequence for the tumbling mills.
slag. As these values are reported for the total grinding system, the Three types of material at decreasing comminution resistance (mar-
savings with respect to grinding energy only should be higher. The ble, siderite ore and hematite ore) were tested in a range of product
potential of the absolute values is not easy to assess due to the incom- dispersity between 2000 and 7000 Blaine.
plete data reported. The distinct characterization of the material by its Even at optimized conditions stochastic grinding in ball mills could
comminution behavior, the characterization of the machinery not overcome the results obtained by the vertical mills stressing the
concerning type, setup, operation and measurement conditions (energy material in the compressed bed. The energy savings seem to be material
contributions included, method of measurement) would be important. dependent with no distinct correlation to the comminution resistance
Referring to Fig. 3 the opposite behavior in the energy savings described by the Rittinger index.
concerning the relation between surface increase and energy consump-
tion may be explained by the differing points of reference. It may be
assumed that one arrangement of ball mill and classier served to
obtain all the results. For tumbling mill systems operated more and Boehm, A., 2010. Derivation of the specic surface area and the particle shape factor from
more beyond their optimum settings, the grindability (surface to energy permeametry. In: Messe GmbH Nuernberg (Ed.), World Congress Particle Technology
6, CD Proceedings. ISBN: 978-3-00-030570-2, pp. 736739.
relation) monotonously decreases following a curve, for which the Boehm, A., Flachberger, H., 2006. Ueberblick ueber Methoden der Mahlbarkeitspruefung.
Rittinger line serves as the tangent in the origin (Steiner, 1991). BHM Berg- und Huettenmaennische Monatshefte 151, 223232.

Please cite this article as: Boehm, A., et al., An energy based comparison of vertical roller mills and tumbling mills, Int. J. Miner. Process. (2014),
A. Boehm et al. / International Journal of Mineral Processing xxx (2014) xxxxxx 5

Fahrland, T., Zysk, K.-H., 2013. Cements ground in the vertical roller mill full the quality Meissner, P., Boehm, A., Plochberger, T., 2012. Improved grinding. AT int. 53, 252258.
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Gleissenberg, J., Hofmann, F., 2008. Tailored solutions for the success of our customers. K.S.E., Schoenert, K. (Eds.), Comminution 1994. Elsevier Science B.V, Amsterdam,
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Please cite this article as: Boehm, A., et al., An energy based comparison of vertical roller mills and tumbling mills, Int. J. Miner. Process. (2014),