In many industries the final product, or the raw material at somestage of the manufacturing process, is in powdered form and in consequence the rapid and cheap preparation of powdered materials is a matter of considerable economic importance.
In some cases the powdered material may be prepared directly; for example by precipitation from solution, a process which is used in the preparation of certain types of pigments and drugs, or by the vacuum drying of a fine spray of the material, a process which is widely adopted for the preparation of milk powder, soluble coffee extracts and similar products. Such processes are, however, of limited applicability and in by far the greatest number of industrial applications the powdered materials are prepared by the reduction, in some form of mill, of the grain size of the material having an initial size larger than that required in the final product. These processes for the reduction of the particle size of a granular material are known as milling or grinding and it appears that these names are used interchangeably, there being no accepted technical differentiation between the two.
Examples of the first two classes occur in mineral dressing, in which size reduction is used to liberate the desired ore from the gangue and also to reduce the ore to a form in which it presents a large surface to the leaching reagents.
Under the third heading may be classed many medicinal and pharmaceutical products, foodstuffs, fertilizers, insecticides, etc., and under the fourth heading falls the size reduction of mineral ores, etc.; these materials often being reduced to particles of moderate size for ease in handling, storing and loading into trucks and into the holds of ships.
The quantity of powder to be subjected to such processes of size reduction varies widely according to the industries involved, for example in the pharmaceutical industries the quantities involved per annum, can be measured in terms of a few tons, or in the case of certain drugs, possibly a few pounds; whereas in the cement industry the quantities involved run into tens of millions of tons; the British cement industry alone having produced, in round figures, 12 million tons of Portland Cement.
For the preparation of small quantities of powder many types of mill are available but, even so, the ball mill is frequently used. For the grinding of the largest quantities of material however, the ball, tube or rod mill is used almost exclusively, since these are the only types of mill which possess throughput capacity of the required magnitude.
The great range of sizes covered by industrial ball mills is well exemplified by Fig. 1.1 and Fig. 1.2. In the first illustration is shown a laboratory batch mill of about 1-litre capacity, whilst in Fig. 1.2 is shown a tube mill used in the cement industry the tube having a diameter of about 8 ft and length of about 45 ft.
In Fig. 1.3 is shown a large ball mill, designed for the dry grinding of limestone, dolomite, quartz, refractory and similar materials; this type of mill being made in a series of sizes having diameters ranging from about 26 in. to 108 in., with the corresponding lengths of drum ranging from about 15 in. to 55 in.
At this point it is perhaps of value to study the nomenclature used in connection with the mills under consideration, but it must be emphasized that the lines of demarcation between the types to which the names are applied are not very definite.
The term ball mill is usually applied to a mill in which the grinding media are bodies of spherical form (balls) and in which the length of the mill is of the same order as the diameter of the mill body; in rough figures the length is, say, one to three times the diameter of the mill.
The tube mill is a mill in which the grinding bodies are spherical but in which the length of the mill body is greater in proportion to the diameter than is the case of the ball mill; in fact the length to diameter ratio is often of the order of ten to one.
The rod mill is a mill in which the grinding bodies are circular rods instead of balls, and, in order to avoid tangling of the rods, the length to diameter ratio of such mills is usually within the range of about 15 to 1 and 5 to 1.
It will be noticed that the differentiation between ball mill and the tube mill arises only from the different length to diameter ratios involved, and not from any difference in fundamental principles. The rod mill, however, differs in principle in that the grinding bodies are rods instead of spheres whilst a pebble mill is a ball mill in which the grinding bodies are of natural stone or of ceramic material.
As the name implies, in the batch mills, Fig. 1.4a, the charge of powder to be ground is loaded into the mill in a batch and, after the grinding process is completed, is removed in a batch. Clearly such a mode of operation can only be applied to mills of small or moderate sizes; say to mills of up to about 7 ft diameter by about 7 ft long.
In the grate discharge mill, Fig. 1.4b, a diaphragm in the form of a grating confines the ball charge to one end of the mill and the space between the diaphragm and the other end of the mill houses a scoop for the removal of the ground material. The raw material is fed in through a hollow trunnion at the entrance end of the mill and during grinding traverses the ball charge; after which it passes through the grating and is picked up and removed by the discharge scoop or is discharged through peripheral ports. In this connection, it is relevant to mention that scoops are sometimes referred to as lifters in the literature. In the present work, the use of the term lifter will be confined to the description of a certain form of mill liner construction, fitted with lifter bars in order to promote the tumbling of the charge, which will be described in a later section.
In the trunnion overflow mill, Fig. 1.4c the raw material is fed in through a hollow trunnion at one end of the milland the ground product overflows at the other end. In this case, therefore, the grating and discharge scoop are eliminated.
A variant of the grate discharge mill is shown in Fig. 1.4d, in which the discharge scoop is eliminated by the provision of peripheral discharge ports, with a suitable dust hood, at the exit end of the mill.
Within the classes of mills enumerated above there are a number of variations; for example there occur in practice mills in which the shell is divided into a number of chambers by means of perforated diaphragms and it is arranged that the mean diameter of the balls in the various chambers shall decrease towards the discharge end of the mill; such an arrangement being shown in Fig. 1.6. The reason for this distribution of ball size is that, for optimum grinding conditions, the ratio of ball diameter to particle diameter should be approximately constant. In consequence smaller balls should be used for the later stages of the grinding process, where the powder is finer, and by the adoption of a number of chambers in each of which the mean ball diameter is suitably chosen an approximation is made towards the desired constancy in the ratio of the ball size to the particle size.
The problem of the optimum distribution of ball size within a mill will be dealt with more fully in a later chapter, but at this point it is relevant to mention a mill in which the segregation of the balls is brought about by an ingenious method; especially as the mill carries a distinctive name, even though no principles which place it outside the classification given previously are involved.
The Hardinge mill, Fig. 1.7, uses spheres as a grinding agent but the body is of cylindro-conical form and usually has a length to diameter ratio intermediate between those associated with the ball mill and the tube mill. The reason for this form of construction is that it is found that, during, the operation of the mill, the largest balls accumulate at the large end of the cone and the smallest balls at the small end; there being a continuous gradation of size along the cone. If then the raw material is fed in at the large end of the mill and the ground product removed at the smaller end, the powder in its progression through the mill is ground by progressively small balls and in consequence the theoretical ideal of a constant ratio between ball size and particle size during grinding is, to some extent, attained.
The type of ball mill illustrated in Fig. 1.3, incorporates a peripheral discharge through line screens lining the cylindrical part of the mill. Heavy perforated plates protect the screens from injury and act as a lining for the tumbling charge; sometimes also the fine screen is further protected by coarse screens mounted directly inside it. This type of mill, which is often known as the Krupp mill, is of interest since it represents a very early type of mill which, with modifications, has retained its popularity. The Krupp mill is particularly suited to the grinding of soft materials since the rate of wear of the perforated liners is then not excessive. At this point it will perhaps be useful to discussthe factors upon which the choice between a ball a tube or a rod mill depends.
When a mill is used as a batch mill, the capacity of the mill is clearly limited to the quantity which can be handled manually; furthermore the mill is, as far as useful work is concerned, idle during the time required for loading and unloading the machine: the load factor thus being adversely affected. Clearly then, there will be a considerable gain in throughput, a saving in handling costs and improved load factor, if the mill operation is made continuous by feeding the material into the mill through one trunnion and withdrawing it either through the other trunnion or through discharge ports at the exit end of the mill body.
Since, however, the flow of powder through the mill is now continuous, it is necessary that the mill body is of such a length that the powder is in the mill for a time sufficiently long for the grinding to be carried to the required degree of fineness. This, in general, demands a mill body of considerable length, or continuous circulation with a classifier, and it is increased length which gives rise to the tube mill.
In the metallurgical industries very large tonnages have to be handled and, furthermore, an excess of fine material is undesirable since it often complicates subsequent treatment processes. In such applications a single-stage tube mill in circuit with a product classifier, by means of which the material which has reached optimum fineness is removed for transport to the subsequent processing and the oversize is returned to the mill for further grinding, is an obvious solution. Once continuous feed and a long mill body have been accepted, however, the overall grinding efficiency of the mill may be improved by fairly simple modifications.
As has already been mentioned; for optimum grinding conditions there is a fairly definite ratio of ball size to particle size and so the most efficient grinding process cannot be attained when a product with a large size range is present in the mill. If, however, a tube mill is divided into a number of compartments and the mean ball size of the grinding media decreases in each succeeding compartment; then the optimum ratio between ball size and particle size is more nearly maintained, and a better overall performance of the mill is achieved; this giving rise to the compartment mill shown in Fig. 1.6. The tube mill has the further advantage that, to some extent, the grinding characteristics of the mill are under control; for example, an increase in the size of the balls in the final chamber will reduce the rate of grinding of the finer fractions but will leave the rate of grinding of the coarser fractions sensibly unchanged and so the amount of coarse material in the final product will be reduced without any excessive overall increase in fineness.
The principal field of application of the rod mill is probably as an intermediate stage between the crushing plant and the ball mills, in the metallurgical industries. Thus, material between about 1-in. and 2-in. size may be reduced to about 6 mesh for feeding to the ball mills. Rod mills are, however, being used in closed circuit with a classifier to produce a product of less than about 48-mesh size, but such applications are unusual.
Highly energy intensive unit operation of size reduction in cement industry is intended to provide a homogeneous and super fine (3000-4000 Blain) cement. Grinding operation is monitored for following parameters to ensure objectivity and economy of operation.
Chemical analysis of cement, generally on hourly basis. Product fineness, Blain surface and 45-micron residue. Cement SO3, % Grinding aid usage, grams/tonne Cement moisture, % Production rate, tonnes/hour Operating hours as run factor in % Specific power consumption (SPC) kWh/tonne.
Grindability and Power Consumption.Among various theories of comminution, most commonly accepted which is relevant to ball /tube mills is Bond's theory, which states that power input in comminution process is proportional to the surface generated in the process and the grindability of the material. To measure grindability, Bond developed 'Bond's Work Index' (BWI), a 'test mill' and a testing procedure for WI. With the help of this we can work out power required to grind a material from a given feed size to a product of given fineness.
Water Spray in Cement Mills.Water spray installed generally in second compartment of ball mill to control cement temperature. Cement discharge temperature should be kept below about 110oC but, the same time should allow some 60% dehydration of gypsum to optimize cement strength without excessive false set. Water spray is controlled with mill outlet gas or material temperature. A hardware interlock is recommended with mill main drive to avoid accidental spray in mill.
Grinding aids are generally added to the ball mill to reduce electrostatic agglomeration of fine particles and to reduce coating formation on grinding media which reduces grinding efficiency. The optimum addition rate should be determined carefully to enhance grinding efficiency. Grinding aids also serve to reduce coating problems in cement storage and enhances cement strengths.
Ball Mill.Ball mills with high efficiency separators have been used for cement grinding in cement plants all these years. Ball mill is a cylinder rotating at about 70-80% of critical speed on two trunnions in white metal bearings or slide shoe bearings for large capacity mills. Closed circuit ball mill with two compartments for coarse and fine grinding are generally found in cement plants for cement grinding. Compartments (filled with grinding media) are divided by a double diaphragm with flow control to utilize maximum mill length for effective grinding.
Grinding media contain balls of different sizes in designed proportions with large sizes in feed end and small sizes in discharge end. About 27 to 35 % volume of mill is filled with grinding media. Equilibrium charge is that charge where compensation for wear can be done by balls of one size only usually the largest size in the compartment. Grinding media could be made of forged steel, cast steel or even cast iron. To economize grinding media consumption, presently grinding media used are high chrome steel balls.
Mill shell is lined with lining plates to protect it from wear, high chrome steel liners are now commonly preferred to give longer life. Lifting liners are used to enhance impact in first compartment, where coarse grinding is dominated by impact. In second compartment which is longer in size (L>1.5D), classifying liners are used to ensure media classification along the length of mill with large size balls near mid partition and smaller balls at mill discharge end.
Ball mills are of 'bucket elevator' type for cement grinding, material is taken by conveyors to a separator where coarse was returned to the mill and fine sent to cyclone separator or bag filter for collection.
Different drive arrangement for ball mills are in existence. Commonly existing arrangement is mill drives with a girth gear and a pinion driven by motor with a gear box. Larger mills have a twin drives of half the ratings on either side of same girth gear. In central drive arrangement both the girth gear and pinion are avoided by connecting gear box output shaft directly to mill.
Closed circuit ball mills are existing with all types of separators () grit, mechanical and high efficiency in cement industries. Presently high efficiency separators are common to achieve maximum energy optimization. Brief description of separators is presented at the end.
Mill drive power or mill differential pressure to control mill feed rate. Mill Sound level to control filling level inside mill with feed rate. Mill outlet gas temperature. Mill outlet material temperature. Cement temperature. Outlet gas flow determined from mill inlet and outlet drafts or flow meters installed.
Vertical Roller Mills.In Vertical Roller mill 2 - 4 rollers (lined with replaceable liners) turning on their axles press on a rotating grinding table (lined with replaceable liners) mounted on the yoke of a gear box. Pressure is exerted hydraulically. This mill also has a built in high efficiency separator above the rollers to reduce circulation loads and consequently reducing differential pressure across the mill.
The mill is started either with the rollers in lifted-up position, or with the hydro-pneumatic system at low pressure. In grinding mode, actual metal to metal contact should be prevented by limit switches or a mechanical stop and by consistent feed. In VRMs the material cycle time is usually less than a minute against several minutes for a ball mill or tube mill. Thus, control response should be accordingly faster. In case mill feed fails action should be taken within no more than 45 seconds or excessive vibration will cause mill shut-down. Moreover, the vertical mills are subject to vibrations if material is too dry to form a stable bed. Therefore, provision is made for controlled spray water inside the mill During mill operation magnetic separator and metal detector should be always functional to ensure to exclude tramp metal which can damage the grinding surfaces.
Roller Press.Roller press consists of two rollers lined with wear resistant material. One roller is fixed and the other one is movable to exert pressure, applied hydraulically. A roller press looks similar to a roll crusher. However, the pressure exerted between rollers is very high - of the order of 400 kg/cm2 as compared to roll crushers. Feed is fed over the total width of the rollers by a central chute. About 30 % material gets pulverized to the required product fineness. Roller press output pre-ground material is fed to a ball mill operating in closed circuit. Ball mill required is smaller in size and larger grinding balls are no more required.
Separators Several types of separator are employed in mill circuits and there are numerous variations of each type: Mechanical separators Mill discharge material is fed onto a rotating dispersion plate whence it is spread off into a rising air stream. Coarse particles either fall directly from the dispersion plate or are rejected between the auxiliary fan blades and the control valve. Fine dust is taken along with main fan flow and is detrained as the gas flows downwards loses momentum (velocity) and diversion through the return vanes. Controlling parameters are the number of auxiliary blades, the clearance between auxiliary blades and control valve, and the radial position of the main fan blades
High efficiency separators, 3rd generation separators were introduced to improve the mechanical separator's fines recovery efficiency. Examples of these separators are O-Sepa (FLSmidth), Sepol (ThyssenKrupp) A simplified process flow these separators is as follows. Material is fed onto a rotating dispersion plate via air slide, whence it is dispersed off into the classifying air stream. Separator loading is recommended to be up to about 2.5kg feed/M3 air flow. Vortex is formed by the rotor which classifies particles between centrifugal force and the inward air flow. The fine fraction exits upwards/downwards with the air sucked by ID fan passes through cyclone separators or a bag filter for product collection, while the coarse fraction falls and is discharged from the bottom and send back to mill for regrinding. Fineness is controlled by rotor speed (increasing speed increases fineness).