An Undergraduate Hydrometallurgy Laboratory Emphasizing Engineering Design

Additonal authors: Schmidt, J.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Guerra, E.

The development of set of laboratory experiments, intended to help undergraduate students meet Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board requirements for Engineering Design outcomes, is described.The laboratory, which is part of a third year level course in hydrometallurgy, is aimed at advancing the ability of students to generate and use experimental results to design an industrial copper leach/SX/EW plant. Emphasis is placed on the students demonstrating the ability to use of their engineering knowledge in weighing the pros and cons of the various process options that they test in converging to a final flowsheet. INTRODUCTION Over the past number of years the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board, CEAB, has dramatically shifted the way that they evaluate undergraduate programs. In the past, the focus was on measuring of the quantity and quality of material the students were intended to learn as well as the methods and resources used to deliver that material. Now, rather than principally evaluating the inputs of programs, the focus is more on measuring the quality of the outputs from the programs, i.e. the quality of graduating students. In this regard, the CEAB has developed a list of twelve attributes that learners must develop in the course of their studies. Engineering programs must, not only demonstrate that their curriculums provide opportunities to develop these attributes, but must measure student proficiency in each of these attributes as they progress toward graduation. One particular graduate attribute that Laurentian University’s Bharti School of Engineering has encouraged its faculty members to develop content for is “design”. Engineering Canada (2018) defines this attribute as “an ability to design solutions for complex, open-ended engineering problems and to design systems, components or processes that meet specified needs with appropriate attention to health and safety risks, applicable standards, and economic, environmental, cultural and societal considerations”. The previous laboratory component for the hydrometallurgy course was a collection of unconnected experiments covering leaching, solvent extraction, ion exchange, and electrowinning. Like in other undergraduate courses, students would perform stand-alone experiments, make the specified measurements, do the specified analyses of the results, and report the findings, all as strictly detailed in the lab manual. The vision for the new lab was to create an experience that would more closely mimic an industrial research program whereby students would start with a given feed material and would progress through a series of connected experiments. Emphasis is placed on the student demonstrating competency in, not only, generating and analyzing experimental data, but also in using the data along with their engineering knowledge to design and evaluate the pros and cons various plant configuration options. Principally, students are asked to weigh cost, safety, and environmental concerns in converging to their final flowsheet. In designed the leach circuit, students must weigh the costs/benefits of varying leach temperature. Higher leach temperatures will yield faster and more complete copper dissolution, which will allow for the specification of relatively smaller leaching circuits, saving capital costs. However, hotter acid solutions are more dangerous to handle and require increasing amounts of energy to heat the slurry, increasing operating costs. In solid/liquid separation, students must weigh the pros and cons of the addition of a flocculent to assist settling. The flocculant will allow for the design of a thickener circuit that employs units with a relatively smaller area, but will result in a thickener underflow with a lower pulp density, which may necessitate a larger number of thickeners. In addition, the environmental concerns of producing a tailings product that contains an organic contaminant should be addressed. In solvent extraction, students m
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019