Grinding clinker to finished cement consumes more energy than any other comminution process. World production of cement in 2009 was 2840 million tonnes and the energy required for comminution was 40-60 kWh/tonne depending on the clinker characteristics and the fineness of the finished cement. Machines used include single and multi compartment ball mills, HPGRs, vertical roller mills, centrifugal air separators, V separators, screens and crushers.
The circuit most commonly used consists of a closed circuit HPGR followed by a single compartment ball mill and an air separator, and in operation the variables are adjusted to obtain maximum throughput with no loss of quality of the separator fines. A common objective in cement plants is to reduce energy consumption without affecting the particle size in the finished cement and simulation is used as one procedure to achieve this. Models are now available for all the machines commonly used in clinker circuits and circuit optimisation studies using simulation have been carried out in many plants leading to decrease in energy consumption per tonne of cement. In this paper the models used will be discussed briefly and several case studies will be reviewed which will highlight the effect of change in ball size in a two compartment mill, the role of the HPGR in an HPGR – ball mill – air separator circuit, and the use of a high intensity vibrating mill for producing finished cement with high additive ratio.