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Latest Technology

on Mill Diaphragms

presented by:

Christian Pfeiffer Maschinenfabrik GmbH

Sudhoferweg 110 - 112
59269 Beckum
Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms


- Introduction

- Requirements for a modern intermediate diaphragm

- Design features of modern diaphragms

- Support structure with “floating fixation”

- Material flow control system
- Diaphragm plates

- Mill ventilation system

- Conclusion

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms


Grinding of raw materials to produce clinker and the finish grinding of clinker
with additives to produce cement is still one of the main energy consuming
steps in the production process of the cement plants. About 65 % of the total
energy used by a cement plant is consumed by the different grinding
facilities. Hence, the optimisation of grinding plants related to their
performance and specific energy consumption is very important for the end-

On this occasion it is mentioned that about 5 % of the world energy

consumption is utilised for driving thousands of ball mills whereby an
essential part of this percentage is related to the grinding process for
producing cement.

With the optimisation of ball mills, the valuation and regulation of the material
transport through the mill is of great importance. On the one hand, the
material-to-be-ground shall remain long enough in the grinding compartment
to achieve the specified product fineness at the mill discharge and on the
other hand, over-grinding is not wanted, i.e. increased retention time.

For this purpose, the intermediate diaphragm of the ball mill has to fulfil a
central task:

- generally, the diaphragm

separates the mill tube into
two compartments and
therefore allows an optimal
tuning of the coarse and fine
ball charge

- the diaphragm controls the

material flow through the mill
and consequently influences
the grinding efficiency

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms

For more than 75 years Christian Pfeiffer is now producing diaphragms and
the company has gained comprehensive experiences with their production
and utilisation. Totally more than 5,000 diaphragms have been sold mainly
for applications in the cement industry.

A continued development of the technology as well as a constant

optimisation of the manufacturing process does allow the company to offer
tailor-made solutions at best price-performance ratio to all cement producers.

The present paper gives an overview about the most modern innovations for
intermediate diaphragms.

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms



Diaphragms have to fulfil a series of wear and process technological

requirements. Nowadays, they are tailor-made for each application to match
the plant specific requirements like:

- width of diaphragm
- slot width and slot shape
- adaptation to specific filling degree
- adaptation of open surface area for optimising mill ventilation
- flow control for optimised material transport

Furthermore, the support structure of a diaphragm

must be stable and maintenance-free and must
enable the tube mill to operate for many years. The
structure keeping the rolled steel plates must be
constructed in such a way that it can accept any
ovality of the mill tube as well as the differences
between the ambient temperature and the
operating temperature of 100 to 140 °C without
any problems arising.

Because of the different types of feed to ball mills

easy changes in the grinding media charges must be possible for each
particular application. This aspect gives rise to a further requirement for
flexible adaptability of the diaphragm plates in the main wear zone.

Due to the continuously increasing cost of labour it is necessary to pay

particular attention to time-saving maintenance and servicing when selecting
new diaphragms technologies:

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms

Any replacement parts have to be readily accessible, and it must be possible

to replace them by simple methods even after long periods of mill operation.

Obviously, a diaphragm of this type should be adjustable after many years of

operation. Finally, the diaphragm plates have to be absolutely operationally
reliable and must not cause any plant stoppages.

The slotted plates on the side facing the 1st grinding compartment must
therefore be wear resistant and breakage-proof, and the slots should remain
free from clogging by material and grinding media even after long mill
operating periods.

Diaphragm plates have to be replaceable as easy as possible and without

using any great resources. The weight of an individual wear plate must be
low enough for the plates to be changed rapidly and with few personnel.

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms


CPB diaphragms are of latest-state-of-the-

art and fulfil the above mentioned
requirements of dosing and process. Some
of the main aspects are described in detail

Front view of the CPB diaphragm support

structure and slotted plates.

Design of the diaphragm support structure

The diaphragm support structure on the side facing 1st grinding compartment
consists of the plate cross. Seated inside the diaphragm is equipped with
curved lifters inclined in the direction of material transport.

The backside of the diaphragm support

structure is completely closed and welded
up. It only has a few circular openings as
erection aids for the diaphragm backside
plates and, in the region of the central
openings, trapezoidal openings for drawing
off the air. These basic components of the
diaphragm support structure are fully
welded to one another to produce a stable
and inherently rigid support structure. In the centre of the diaphragm support
structure there is a central opening with the integrated material flow control

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms

The outer fastening ring which forms the contact with the mill tube takes the
thermal stresses and those caused by ovality and movement of the mill tube
as well as the forces exerted by the
grinding media charge. This fastening
ring is turned to produce a smooth
seating surface against the mill tube. At
the bolted connections to the mill tube
the ring has rectangular openings which
take the holding plates which make up
the actual connection to the mill tube,
the so-called “floating fixation”.

The holding plates are bolted to the mill tube and have a certain amount of
clearance in relation to the corresponding openings in the retaining ring. This
means that the intermediate diaphragm can move easily in relation to the mill
tube, which compensates the coming-up forces. In contrast to diaphragms
which are fixed rigidly to the mill tube by bolted connections this type of
fixation allows a reliable movement between the diaphragm and the mill tube
itself. Flexing as well as thermal and mechanical stress which have their
source in the mill tube, are not transferred to the diaphragm. Thus, fixation of
the diaphragm plates on the support structure is risk less, bolt and plate
breakage does not occur.

The trapezoidal openings on the inside of

the closed steel plate permit a controlled
passage of the ventilation air through the
diaphragm support structure. The
diaphragm backside plates are therefore
also provided with slots at these points.

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms

At the centre opening of the diaphragm, a larger or smaller angle ring is used
depending on the filling ratio of the corresponding grinding compartment. In
this way it is possible, in combination with the inner wear plates, to adapt the
intermediate diaphragm to suit a wide range of filling ratios for different
grinding applications. The maximum central opening can be set in each case.

Material flow control system

The flow of material is set by a “material flow control system” which is a

component part of the intermediate diaphragm and is built into the centre.
The material passes through individual openings in the discharge ring into
the following compartment.

Classical material flow control systems collect the ground cement from the
first compartment through the slots of
the diaphragm plates and discharge
them by different technical solutions into
the centre of the diaphragm. The
disadvantage of all solutions known so
far is the fact that the material is directly
affected by the air flow through the
centre screen. As a result, the material
is usually “blown” too far into the 2nd
grinding compartment so that a
significant part of the effective grinding length is lost.

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms

A first improvement was made by

introducing slotted plates on the
diaphragm side facing 2nd compartment.
As standard, the outer ring of the
conventionally closed backside plates are
replaced by slotted plates. By this, a
certain part of material is transferred into
the 2nd compartment through this way.

The new solution developed by

Christian Pfeiffer (4th
generation of intermediate
diaphragms) ensures a
discharge of the material
outside of the centre air flow
and an optimal utilisation of the
grinding path is ensured.

Even after long mill operating

periods it is possible to alter the
free outlet openings, and hence
the flow of material, because
there are no adjusting elements on the inside of the diaphragm which jam or
weld up after long periods operation. The flow of material is adjusted while
the mill is stopped without dismantling any diaphragm elements.

Besides this new generation diaphragm,

Christian Pfeiffer still provides the well-
known material flow control system of 3rd
generation diaphragms.

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms

Diaphragm plates
The plates over an intermediate diaphragm
are subdivided into different plate rings
which are dimensioned to suit the filling ratio
and the position of the main wear zone. The
diaphragm support structure has additional
holes for the diaphragm plates so that the
plate distribution can be altered at any time
if there is a change in operating conditions.
In this way the main wear zone can be
limited to only one, or at maximum two,
plate rings. The sizes of the individual
backside plates
and slotted plates are selected so that they are
still easy to handle during installation and

The slots first taper conically to the narrowest

cross section and then widen to the backside of
the plate. The slots only enlarge to a negligible
extent during the life of the plate so there are no
detrimental effects on the grinding process.

The shape of the bolt swages in

the diaphragm plates for taking
the tear-off bolts is critically
important for the service lifetime
of the plates. The full wear
thickness of a plate can only be
utilised if suitable bolts and bolt
swages provide a firm seat for
the plate even after many years
of operation.

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms

It is clear that the retaining system using a conical bolt swage offers great
advantages. With cylindrical bolt swages the plates
must be changed at a residual thickness of 15 mm,
but with a retaining system using conical bolt
swages the plate can be used down to a residual
thickness of 8 mm or less.

The conical inlet part of a slot is

brought in by CNC – machines
together with the bolt swage for a
proper fixation of the plates.

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms

In a second step the slots itself are

flame-cut by a CNC controlled robot.
Slot width, length and conical
enlargement towards the backside can
be tailor-made for each particular

The CPB diaphragm plates are made of highly wear and breakage resistant
rolled steel material which is solely manufactured by well-known steel
producers acc. to the specification given by Christian Pfeiffer.

Each plate is hardened by a

special heat treatment
executed in a new heat
treatment plant. The plant
itself consists of a
hardening kiln, a quenching
area and a tempering kiln.
Temperatures and retention
times in the kilns and
quenching basin can be
djusted for each individual
requirement and are
controlled and monitored by
means of computer.

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms


A major technological aspect to control the grinding process is the mill

ventilation. Several design criteria of a diaphragm have a significant influence
on this important topic.

In cement grinding the mill ventilation system fulfils two important functions:

- Cooling the cement and removing the heat generated during the
grinding process.
- Carrying part of the finished product out of the grinding area.

It is well known that the energy used during the grinding process in ball mills
is almost entirely converted into heat.

An adequate mill ventilation system is therefore needed for cooling the

product. A good mill ventilation system also ensures rapid removal of the
fines which are produced even during the coarse comminution in the first
grinding compartment. This can make a decisive improvement in the
comminution results.

Adequate mill ventilation occurs at air velocities between 1.2 and 1.5 m/s in
the free cross-section of the mill. Typical ventilation data for the intermediate
diaphragms are given in the schematic sketch.

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms

Ventilation characteristics of two typical diaphragm applications

Designation Units Numerical

Geometric data for the intermediate
diaphragm – mill diameter m 4.4
Total available slot length m 107.87
Slot width mm 6
Total slot area m² 0.65
Relative free slot area % 4.58
Relative area of the central grid % 80
Version A
Filling ratio, grinding compartment 1 % 25
Volumetric air flow m³/h 57 460
Air velocity above the grinding ball charge m/s 1.5
Total free area of the diaphragm m² 2.128
(less the area blocked by the grinding
media charge)
air velocity in the diaphragm m/s 7.5
Version B
Filling ratio, grinding compartment 1 % 28
Volumetric air flow m³/h 44 980
Air velocity above the grinding ball charge m/s 1.23
Total free area of the diaphragm m² 1.404
(less the area blocked by the grinding
media charge)
air velocity in the diaphragm m/s 8.9

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms

It is a part of every optimisation work done by CPB to carry out a detailed

study of the entire mill tube prior to the installation of a new diaphragm and
other mill internals.

The main purpose of such a mill tube inspection is the elimination of obvious
bottle necks which may hinder a proper performance of the mill.

- mill inlet and outlet have to be optimised according to the requirements

of the mill ventilation

- an existing discharge diaphragm has to be checked according to the

free slot and centre screen area

- mill main fan and filter have to be checked and, if necessary, adapted
to the new conditions

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Latest Technology on Mill Diaphragms


Modern grinding technology with tube mills requires new and tailor-made
diaphragms. According to the specific process requirements of the grinding
plant each diaphragm is especially designed for the particular tube mill:

- the width is adapted to the existing bore hole situation

- slot length and width are tailor-made according to product requirement
- mill ventilation is optimised by a maximum free area of the diaphragm
- centre opening is tailor-made to the ball charge filling level
- material flow through the diaphragm is controllable and ensures best
utilisation of the 2nd compartment grinding path

With its flexible design and production technologies, Christian Pfeiffer

provides their customers best concepts and equipment for their entire
grinding facilities.

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