Assessing the stirred mill design space


In the context of the mining industry, smaller grain size and other mineralogical characteristics have motivated the need to grind finer. In order to address this need, the interest in fine grinding technologies has grown over the last 20 years as is illustrated by a growing body of knowledge on stirred milling. Emphasis in recent years has been on the use of computationally intensive modeling and simulation methods such as the discrete element method (DEM) and computational fluid dynamics (CFDs). However, due to the computational requirements of these two methods, initiating a study that spans the stirred mill design space would take a lot of computational effort and time. Therefore the goal of this paper is to propose and apply a simplified stirred mill model that will then be used to assess configurations in the stirred mill design space.

To this end, a stirred mill model was proposed based on the assumption that the main if not only mechanism of ore breakage is shear. As the basis of this model is the fluid mechanics definition of shear stress, the stirred mill power model became a function of viscosity, mill speed and a new parameter called shear volume. An initial validation using published data indicated the shear based power model correlated well with measured power.

Establishing a morphological chart to delimit the stirred mill design space indicated that 24 design and operating conditions can be assess using the established shear volume measure. The results indicated for the mill configurations tested that a change in stirred mill liner design can potentially increase shear volume and power from 14% to 290% as compared to smooth chamber liners.