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MEI Online: Materials Handling: Latest News: July 8th 2016

 
 

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:: Taking the ‘Drag’ Out of Slurry Pumping

 

A new CSIRO technology that takes the energy-sapping ‘drag’ out of industrial pumping has been adopted by major mining company Glencore’s Minara Resources following a successful full-scale trial. CSIRO says “the drag reduction technology can save mining companies millions of dollars on energy and water use each year, while boosting their productivity.”

Minara’s Technical and Engineering Manager, Paul Wiltshire, explains that the technology was installed to improve the feed ore slurry pumping capacity at the Murrin Murrin nickel operation in Western Australia, which was overloading as ore throughput was increased.

“Working together with CSIRO, we were able to identify a low-cost installation point with good potential for reducing the slurry drag effect in the piping system. The technology freed up capacity, which meant we could avoid an expensive plant upgrade to meet throughput demand.

“It was an immediate success and CSIRO’s drag reduction technology is now part of our toolkit when considering other slurry pumping constraints on site,” said Wiltshire.

CSIRO Senior Engineer Dr Rueben Rajasingam (pictured) said that reducing water content, power demand and pumping inefficiencies always results in significant operational and cost improvements. “The thicker the material, the more friction or ‘drag effect’ you get which makes it hard to pump and more energy and capital-intensive. “Water is typically added to dilute the material before pumping, but only as a last resort, because the more water you add the less throughput you achieve.

“Our technology combats both these challenges: it introduces a thin, uniform and long-lasting ring of fluid between the slurry and the inside of the pipe so that thick material can be efficiently pumped without friction at a high throughput,” Rajasingam said.

CSIRO’s drag reduction technology is simple, cost-effective, easy-to-implement and could be applied to a broader range of industrial processes where there’s a dewatering aspect that results in a sludge, slurry or paste that needs to be transported.

In mining, the technology means that variation in ore viscosity or water content, can be easily managed. It also offers a solution for backfill. “The idea of using a lubricant is not new, but we’ve come up with a better technology that overcomes issues with coating uniformity. The way we introduce the coating creates a thin, uniform sheath around the slurry, whereas other methods coat sporadically,” Rajasingam explained.

Other CSIRO minerals processing innovations include a better performing agitation system called Swirl Flow, the world’s leading technology for rapid mineral analysis QEMSCAN, and new environmentally-friendly processes for the recovery of gold, nickel and cobalt.

 

 

   

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