Maximizing Energy Efficiency in Smelter Feed Drying

Additonal authors: Berg, C.-G.. 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

Tuominen, J.T.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, energy efficiency in copper smelting has been improved by a factor of 30 as a result of adopting autogenous smelting processes with more and more efficient waste heat recovery systems, increasing use of oxygen enrichment and countless smaller improvements. Nevertheless, energy in the form of electricity and fuels continues to be the biggest contributor to smelter operating cost. Metallurgists around the world are under constant pressure to find ways to save those precious megajoules wherever they can. One area that is often neglected is the removal of water contained in concentrates. Copper flotation concentrates, as delivered to a smelter, typically contain some 8–12% moisture. This moisture must be removed and the only way to do this is by evaporation, which consumes a lot of energy. Several studies have shown that the most efficient way of removing this moisture is to use a steam- heated indirect dryer—the least efficient way being the feeding of wet concentrate directly into a smelting furnace. Even in the most efficient smelters that employ modern steam drying, the energy needed to remove the moisture from the concentrates constitutes over 15% of the total energy consumption of a smelter – acid plant complex. The major steps that have been taken in the past to lower the energy consumption of moisture removal are the use of drying in general and the adoption of steam drying. The energy efficiency of concentrate drying has been improved by 25% over the last 20 years. The latest giant leap in this area, the Kumera Heat Recovery Dryer, is the result of Kumera’s long-term development in improving the efficiency of concentrate drying. The Heat Recovery Dryer is a novel application of steam drying that uses the waste heat from dryer exhaust gas for drying concentrates, thus, cutting the energy consumption by a further 30%. This paper discusses energy consumption in copper smelting in general and analyzes the energy consumption of concentrate drying in detail. Different dryer types are compared especially from the perspectives of energy consumption and environmental emissions. Applicability of different energy sources for drying is evaluated and discussed. The principle of the Kumera Heat Recovery Dryer is presented along with results from extensive continuous pilot plant tests. Potential applications and the feasibility of Kumera Heat Recovery Drying technology are discussed.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019