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Development of a new fine particle dry separator

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2018, Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 77-86

Akbari, H.; Ackah, L.A.; Mohanty, M.K.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.19150/mmp.8289


Dry coal cleaning has generated renewed interest in scientific and coal mining communities alike due to water scarcity in many parts of the world and the numerous tailings ponds that have resulted from traditional wet coal preparation methods. Commercially available dry separation technologies such as air tables and air jigs are mostly effective in cleaning coarse coal with particle size larger than 6.35 mm. The smaller-than-6.35 mm fraction, which might be up to 20 to 40 percent of raw coal, is sent to the clean coal or tailings streams in a dry separation plant without any cleaning. The main objective of this study is to develop, design and fabricate a new density-based dry separator to effectively clean fine coal in the size range of smaller than 6.35 mm to larger than 1 mm.

   A difficult-to-clean coal sample with particle size smaller than 6.35 mm and flat-shaped shales as main rocks were used in this study. Using a laboratory-scale fluidization bed, the optimum air flow rate for fluidization of fine particles in air tables was found, which was much less than that for coarse coal. The perforations diameter and open area of the separating deck of the air table were also found to be critical for fine particle separation. These findings led to the development of a new air table named SIU Airtable for cleaning fine coal sized smaller than 6.35 mm and larger than 1 mm. The new air table has a unique air distribution and fluidization system for fine particles, along with adjustable vibration frequency and direction. It also has an optional extended section to lower the moisture content of high-moisture fine coal using part of the fluidization air. The experiments showed that an ash rejection of about 49 percent could be achieved with a combustible recovery of around 89 percent, indicating suitable separation. Furthermore, increasing ash rejection to 70 percent gives a combustible recovery of 72 percent, indicating that the separation performance of the new air table is close to the fine coal washability data.