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Advances in Mineral Resources Management and 1

Environmental Geotechnology, Hania 2004, Greece

Use of a new model to represent hydrocyclone corrected-efficiency curves

K.G. Tsakalakis
School of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, National Technical University of Athens, Greece

ABSTRACT form, consists of two units, the mill and the
mill- product classifier (hydrocyclone or spiral
This work presents a new two-parameter
classifier). The classifier controls through the
empirical model, which can be used for the
maximum size of the product the recirculating
representation of the hydrocyclone corrected-
load to the mill.
efficiency curves. With the help of this model it
It is evident that the use of reliable models,
is possible to represent the distribution of the
expressing the classifier efficiency, is essential
various size fractions, in the overflow and
for the effective control and the simulation of
underflow products during classification
the wet closed grinding circuits.
processes (corrected and actual efficiency).
The classifier, fed with the mill product,
Experimental actual efficiencies for various size
divides it into two products; the coarse fraction,
fractions from earlier classification tests were
which represents the recirculating load fed back
correlated with the new equation.
to the mill, and the fine product with particles of
The interesting features of the new model
the appropriate size for the next stages of the
are: (a) it is a simple physical model (b) the
accuracy of its parameters, computed applying
Due to short-circuiting of fines caused by the
linear regression is comparable to that obtained
coarse product liquid, the actual classifier
from the already known (Lynch, Plitt-Reid and
efficiency, instead of being Ec, becomes Ea. The
Harris) models, and (c) the proposed model can
relationship between the observed classification
also be graphically represented, from which all
efficiency Ea and the corresponding Ec
of its parameters are easily predicted.
(corrected) is shown in Figure 1 and is given by:
Comparisons with the other models showed a
good agreement, not only for the prediction of Ea − R f
the hydrocyclone corrected and actual Ec = (1)
1− Rf
efficiencies, but for the characteristic separation
sizes of the classification procedure as well. where:
Ec: is the mass fraction of particles of a
1. INTRODUCTION given size referred to the coarse product
(underflow) of the classifier, due to the
For quite some time now, the use of classifying action
mathematical models, depicting the Ea: is the mass fraction of the given size
performance of mineral processing operations, (same as above), which actually appears
has become important. in the underflow and
Significant attempts have been made in the Rf : is the fraction of the feed liquid, which is
field of wet grinding to express mathematically distributed in the underflow.
the effectiveness of the classifier. The proposed The actual separation size (50% of the size-
models can be used later for the simulation of fraction in the underflow and 50% in the
the grinding circuits. overflow) is referred to as d50 (cut size or cut
A wet closed grinding circuit, in its simplest
2 Advances in Mineral Resources Management and
Environmental Geotechnology, Hania 2004, Greece

m r
Sharpness of
E c = 1 − 1 − ( d / d max ) ] (4)
Fraction to underflow

separation where m, r are shape parameters and dmax the
particle size at which Ec = 1.
Ea Plitt's or Reid's model offers a number of
considerable advantages: first, it can be
Cut size- d50 EC represented as a straight line on a Rosin-
Rammler graph paper from which the d50c and m
0.5 values can be easily derived and secondly it is
Bypass based on a physical model.
Equation (4), due to its greater number of
parameters, presents a better goodness of fit to
the data. It also provides corrected efficiency Ec
Rf = 1 at a finite size dmax, but the calculation of its
parameters is much more tedious.
A “fish hook” phenomenon at the fine end of
0 the hydroclone performance curve, with
d50C Particle size sufficient frequency to warrant attention, was
Figure 1: Typical actual and corrected classification reported from Finch (1983). This behavior of
curves. the hydroclone performance curve was modeled
by introducing an entrainment component to
point) and the corresponding corrected one as recovery to the underflow which is a function of
d50c. From the relative position of the two curves particle size. Roldan-Villasana et al. (1993)
in Fig. 1, it comes out that d50c is greater than realized also this phenomenon, which is a dip of
d50. Their difference obviously depends on the the “S” shape function in regions of the finer
value of Rf (Eq. 1). particle sizes (typically less than 20 µm) and it
Many equations, expressing the corrected was thought to be of considerable industrial
classifier efficiency Ec as a function of the significance. They made a critical assessment of
particle size d, were extensively presented in an previous modeling work and a theory to account
earlier paper (Luckie and Austin, 1974). for the phenomenon and a new empirical model
From those the most widely used are: were proposed and tested.
Nageswararao (1999) examined the Plitt-
a ( d / d 50 c ) ]
Ec = (2) Reid and Lynch (simple and that modified by
a ( d / d 50 c )]
+ ea − 2 Whiten) models and concluded that, both the
Plitt-Reid and Whiten functions are satisfactory
and: in describing most efficiency curves observed in
 −0.6931( d / d )m 
 
practice. The latter seemed to be more accurate
Ec = 1 − e
50 c
(3) while the former is simpler to use.
Chen et al. (2000), using experimental data,
The first model (Eq. 2) was proposed by Lynch compared 7 different (empirical, theoretical and
(1965) and the second (Eq. 3), which followed a semi-theoretical) models and they found that
few years later, simultaneously but there has not been so far a single model, which
independently by Plitt (1971) and Reid (1971). can simulate most hydrocyclone operations.
The above equations have two parameters. The They stated that, it is impossible to have one
d50c gives the particle size in which the separation model performing a good simulation of the
was expected to happen and the other (a or m) pressure drop, cut size, grade efficiency and the
characterizes the sharpness of separation. flow split. However, these models can be
Another model has been also proposed realized as a good tool for estimating
(Harris, 1972), which is a three-parameter hydrocyclone performance when applied in the
equation: right domain.
Pasquier and Cilliers (2000) observed that
Advances in Mineral Resources Management and 3
Environmental Geotechnology, Hania 2004, Greece

small diameter (10 mm) hydrocyclones, used in Equation (5) was extensively tested before
sub-sieve classification, exhibit a fish-hook (Tsakalakis, 1988) in order to be used as a
partition curve and a high bypass fraction, screen size-separation model. Finally, the
which results in high particle recovery to the following model, incorporating one more
underflow and a high concentration ratio. The parameter n, was proved to have a better fitting
fish-hook partition curve observed can be capability than Eq. (5) to screening data and was
accurately described by a general classification used as a screening function, i.e.
model proposed. b
"Nageswararao (2000) claims that the − n 
infrequently reported fish-hook effect, in E = ae l  (6)
hydrocyclone classifications, seems to be of where E was the cumulative undersize recovery
partial acceptance. The fundamental models to of the screen, l was the screen length in cm and
date do not predict a "fish-hook" phenomenon. α, b parameters > 0.
Current theories to explain it, based on the size It was noted that, when the value of n varies
dependent bypass mechanism, are mere between 0.5 and 2.0 (0.5 < n < 2.0), the form of
mathematical transformations and it is still a the curves changes slightly as is shown in Fig. 2
long way before it could be universally accepted (curves for n=0.7 or 2.0). This fact, in some
as a scientifically significant physical effect." cases, leads to better goodness of fit to the data.
Kraipech et al. (2002), based on It is evident that the curves in Fig. 2 resemble in
experimental data, attempted to model the fish- shape the curve Ec shown in Fig. 1, which
hook phenomenon by proposing two different
represents the corrected efficiency of a classifier.
approaches (the classification approach A and
the bypass Approach B). For each of these By reason of this observation, Eq. (6) was
approaches a different model was derived. suitably recast and then subjected to
mathematical analysis in order to verify its fitting
capability when used as a classifier corrected-
2. DERIVATION OF THE NEW MODEL efficiency function.
It is known (Daniel and Wood, 1980) that the From Eq. (6), substituting (e/2 = 1.359) for a,
following model (d50c)n for b and d for l , we get
b −( d50 c / d )
E = ae
− 
l (5) Ec = 1.359e (7)

where α, b are parameters > 0, has a plot shown where:
in Fig. 2 (curve for n=1). Ec: assigned as the fraction of the corrected
100 d: is the particle size in µm (geometric
a n = 0.7
Cumulative undersize recovery E, %

d50c: as assigned before and
n: is a power-law parameter.
Equation (7) is a two-parameter (d50c, n)
function and it presents the basic characteristics
of a classifier corrected-efficiency function
50 (e.g., when d = d50c, then Ec = 1.359 x 0.3679 =
0.5 or 50%). Applying simple linear regression
n=2 to this equation, the two parameters can be
easily computed.

Screen length l, cm
Figure 2: Graphical representation of the cumulative Table 1 presents the experimental data referred
undersize recovery as a function of the screen length. in the classification test (Finch and Plitt, 1975)
4 Advances in Mineral Resources Management and
Environmental Geotechnology, Hania 2004, Greece

Table 1: Experimental data of the classification test

Corrected efficiency (%) calculated from size analysis
(Finch and Plitt, 1975). Rf = 0.479 or 47.9%
Experimental Corrected 90
Geometric actual efficiency
size, 80
mean efficiency Ea, Ec % from
Mesh 70
size d, µm % to Eq.1,
underflow (Rf=47.9%) 60
+ 10 - 100.0 100.0
-10+20 1173 100.0 100.0
-20+28 701 100.0 100.0 40
-28+35 496 99.6 99.2
-35+48 351 99.2 98.5 New model (K.T.)
-48+65 247 92.7 86.0 20 Lynch
-65+100 175 79.2 60.1 10 Plitt-Reid
-100+150 124 75.9 53.8
-150+200 88 70.1 42.6 0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
-200+325 57 57.2 17.9
Corrected efficiencies predicted from various models (%)
-325 22* 48.9 0.2
Arithmetic mean Figure 3: Comparison of the corrected efficiency Ec,
calculated from the experimental actual efficiency Ea,
and the hydrocyclone corrected-efficiency with the corrected efficiencies predicted from the various
values Ec calculated from Eq. (1). For the test models. Solid line corresponds to y=x.
under consideration all the parameters were corresponding d50 and dmax sizes computed from
predicted, not only those of the proposed model, the models and Eq. (1).
but also those for the already known models as Table 3 shows that the already known models
well. (Lynch, Plitt-Reid, Harris) give a better fitting
For the Lynch and Harris models, the various capability for coarse particle sizes, while the
parameters were predicted using Mathcad and proposed model for the fine particles.
applying a non-linear regression procedure to The calculated d50 separation sizes differ
the pairs (Ec, d) of Table 1, whereas for the slightly between the already known models
other two models (Plitt-Reid and the new (from 11.83 to 16.7 µm), but that predicted from
model) their parameters were computed using a the proposed model (28.3 µm) is closer to the
simple linear regression to the linearized forms experimental one, which in any case must be
of the initial equations. Table 2 presents the greater than 22 µm as shown in Table 1.
values of the parameters calculated for the four Another significant characteristic of the
models. proposed model is that Ec = 1 at a finite particle
size dmax = 436.2 µm, i.e. very close to that
predicted from Harris’ model (dmax = 433.1 µm),
overcoming the inherent disadvantage of the
MODELS other two models (Lynch, Plitt-Reid).
For purposes of comparison Table 3 was From the data calculated from the various
produced, using data from Table 2 and Eq. (1) models and Eq. (1) (corrected efficiencies) and
for Rf = 47.9 %. those given in Table 3 (actual efficiencies),
Table 3 contains the experimental data, the Figures 3 and 4 were constructed. From these
calculated actual-efficiency values and the figures it is seen that the calculated values from
Table 2. Values of the parameters for the various models and methods of prediction
Model Lynch Plitt-Reid Harris New model
d50c = 123 µm d50c = 122 µm dmax = 433.1 µm d50c = 116 µm
Values of the
a = 1.602 m = 1.42 m = 1.263 n = 0.8922
r = 2.878
Simple linear Non-linear regression Simple linear
Method of
Non-linear regression regression & & graphically (very regression &
graphically complicated) graphically
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Environmental Geotechnology, Hania 2004, Greece

Table 3: Comparison of the actual efficiencies Ea computed from the various models
Experimental actual Calculated actual efficiency (% to underflow) from the
Geometric mean size various models for Rf = 47.9%
efficiency Ea, % to
d, µm
underflow Lynch Plitt-Reid Harris New Model
1173 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
701 100.0 99.98 100.0 100.0 100.0
496 99.6 99.69 99.69 100.0 100.0
351 99.2 97.93 97.66 99.21 96.66
247 92.7 92.60 92.08 92.60 90.41
175 79.2 83.78 83.64 82.70 83.28
124 75.9 74.16 74.37 73.17 75.46
88 70.1 66.20 66.29 65.51 67.54
57 57.2 59.22 58.84 58.65 58.63
22* 48.9 51.92 50.97 51.27 48.76
Computed actual separation size d50, µm 11.83 16.7 15 28.3
dmax at Ec =1, in µm - - 433.1 436.2
the proposed model are relatively close to those corresponds to Ec=0.5 or 50%. Similarly, when
predicted from the others. Ec=1 or 100%, then A=0.7358 or 73.58 %.
Taking into account the above observations, the
ordinate (y-axis) of a Rosin-Rammler graph was
5. GRAPHICAL REPRESENTATION OF THE modified, putting in the points of 36.79% and
NEW MODEL 73.58% retained, the values 50% and 100% for
Equation (7) can be rearranged to give: Ec, respectively.
Equation (9) can be represented as a straight
− ( d50 c d )
Ec 1.359 = e (8) line on the new graph. The parameter n is
positive, but the slope of the line is negative, as
Substituting A for (Ec/1.359) gives: shown below:
− ( d50c d ) n
A=e (9) log ( log ( 1.359 E c )) = − n log d + n log d 50 c − log(2.303)
Equation (9) is a modified Rosin-Rammler (10)
equation. From Eq. (9) it is clear that, when
d=d50c then A=0.3679 or 36.79%, which Thus d50c can be easily obtained from the point
on the abscissa (x-axis) corresponding to the
corrected efficiency Ec=0.5 or 50%. Applying
Experimental actual efficiency Ea (% to underflow)

the same procedure, dmax can be calculated from
the graph as corresponding to Ec = 1.
90 Figure 5 shows the new graph, which
represents the pairs (Ec, d) from Table 1.

The present model is a powerful two-parameter
Actual Efficiency (Ea) model. All the parameters describing the
Harris performance of a classifier can be
Plitt-Reid mathematically and graphically obtained with
New Model (K.T.)
accuracy comparable to that presented by the
50 60 70 80 90 100
already known models. It can be used as an
Actual efficiencies predicted from various models (%)
alternative or in parallel with the other already
Figure 4: Comparison of the actual efficiencies predicted applied models for the calculation of d50c, dmax
from various models to the actual efficiency (Ea) from and d50 (actual separation size).
size analysis. Solid line corresponds to y=x. It was pointed out that d50 is closer to the
6 Advances in Mineral Resources Management and
Environmental Geotechnology, Hania 2004, Greece

Figure 5: Hydrocyclone classification tests: modified Rosin-Rammler y-axis versus log plot.
experimental one than those predicted from the Finch, J.A., (1983). Modelling a fish-hook in
other models. This is due probably to the Hydrocyclone Selectivity Curves, Powder
Technology, 36, pp.127-129.
superior fitting capability of the proposed model Harris, C.C., (1972). Graphical representation of
for the fine size fractions. classifier-corrected performance curves, Trans. Instn
It can also be thought as an advantage of the Min. Metall., Sect. C 81, pp. 243-245.
proposed model that Ec is predicted to be 1.359 Kraipech, W., W. Chen, F.J. Parma and T. Dyakowski,
or 135.9% at infinite particle size, whereas Ec = (2002). Modelling the fish-hook effect of the flow
1 or 100% at a finite particle size dmax, as it within hydrocyclones, Int. J. Miner. Process. 66, pp.
actually happens in wet classification. Lynch, A.J., (1965). The characteristics of hydrocyclones
Actually, the proposed model is in most and their application as control units in comminution
cases reliable and adequate for the circuits, Prog. Rep. Dep. Min. Metall., Queensland
representation of the classifier efficiency Univ., No 6.
(corrected and actual), but it needs further Luckie, P.T. and L.G. Austin, (1974). Technique for
derivation of selectivity functions from experimental
testing for its applicability to other classification data, In: Proceedings of 10th Int. Miner. Process.
tests. However, for the case examined here it Congress, IMM, London, pp. 773-790.
was found to be valid. Nageswararao, K., (1999). Reduced efficiency curves of
industrial hydrocyclones-An analysis for plant
practice, Minerals Engineering, vol. 12, No. 5,
Nageswararao, K., (2000). A critical analysis of the fish-
The author is indebted to Professors A. hook effect in hydrocyclone classifiers, Chemical
Frangiskos and E. Mitsoulis for helpful Engineering Journal, 80, pp. 251-256.
discussions and suggestions. Pasquier, S. and J.J. Cilliers, (2000). Sub-micron particle
dewatering using hydrocyclones, Chemical
Engineering Journal, 80, pp. 283-288.
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