Monday, 21 September 2009

Microwave Technology Reviewed

The potential of microwave technology, which exploits the differing thermal dielectric properties of minerals to enhance grain boundary fracture, has been understood for more than 20 years, but has not been considered commercially viable until recently because of the large amount of energy required.
However recent developments, such as pulsed microwave technology may overcome this.
As microwave technology is aimed at improving mineral liberation, its major use will probably be in comminution, and will bring real advantages to the processing of ores, such as diamonds, where the valuable mineral needs to be recovered intact.
However there are many other aspects of mineral processing and extractive metallurgy where the use of microwaves will have importance, and two good reviews by Chris Pickles have recently been published in Minerals Engineering (Volume 22 Issue 13, 2009). The first paper reviews the fundamentals, and the other potential applications.
MEI held its first inaugural microwave technology conference last year in Cape Town, and we would be interested in hearing from anyone who might be interested in presenting work, should we decide to proceed with a 2nd event in the next year or so.

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