Additonal authors: Krane, Matthew J. M.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:
Anode or fire refining is the final pyrometallurgical step in the production of copper anode. Part of this process purifies liquid copper by reducing its dissolved oxygen with a natural gas-steam mixture. Until now there have been no transient models of this process coupling the injected gas jet mass transport with its chemical reactions. A transient, 1D flow, chemical reaction model was made to estimate the time-dependent behavior of anode copper composition, soot formation, and the transient gas jet composition along its height. Model estimates were made for reduction rate, soot emission rate, and exergy loss and destruction distributions for two melt temperatures and a range of steam addition rates. It was found that increases to melt temperature and steam addition rate increased reduction rate and decreased soot emission, while having little effect on exergetic performance. Estimates for reduction histories were compared to industrial data.
Anode/fire refining is the final pyrometallurgical step in the production of copper anodes; it is essential for removing dissolved gases which cause porosity in cast anodes. Despite its significance, the open literature appears devoid of any transient models of the entire process; furthermore, there are very little published process data with which to validate any models made. This dual dearth of modelling work and process data inhibits studies of the tradeoffs between process and performance changes, desirable for decreasing reduction time and soot formation as well as quantifying changes in the exergy losses and destructions of the process. This work introduces a reduced-order, transient model of reduction during fire refining, examines performance trends with operating conditions, and compares model estimates with industrial data.
Overview of anode refining
The purpose of anode refining is to produce liquid copper which can be cast with minimal gas porosity, which disrupts the downstream electrorefining process. Dissolved sulfur is removed first, then oxygen, by reactions with different injected gases. The removal of oxygen (the reduction step) is the subject of this proceeding and is effected by the bubbling of natural gas, typically mixed with steam, through the melt from tuyeres. A typical refining run reduces dissolved oxygen from 3000 ppm to 300 ppm in 2–3 hours (Schlesinger, King, Sole, & Davenport, 2011). The refined copper is then cast as anodes. Figure 1 shows a schematic of the furnace vessel.