Monday, 18 January 2021

Progress towards the Virtual Comminution Machine

The minerals industry is facing significant challenges, driven by declining ore grades, increasing demand for industrial metals (particularly related to electrification of cars and renewable energy generation) and increasing pressure on the use of carbon-based energy sources. All of these impact strongly on mineral processing and the unit operations that make up the grinding circuits that they use. 

Requirements to grind more material, to grind it finer, to grind rock with increasing amounts of gangue and with increasingly complex mineralogy will increase challenges in the development of new circuits and will require new comminution machines and machines that are better optimised. Conventional approaches for crusher and mill design and optimisation, which have been dominantly empirical, are very slow and expensive, which strongly limits innovation. The Virtual Comminution Machine (VCM) is an approach involving a combination of detailed particle scale physics-based modelling and laboratory characterisation of material behaviour, particularly for breakage. 

The development of the VCM has been enabled by the substantial growth over the last two decades in computer power, the maturation of particle based modelling methods (and software) and increasing understanding of breakage fundamentals and how to characterise these. 

We are pleased to have Dr. Paul Cleary, Chief Research Scientist at CSIRO Data61, Australia, as a keynote lecturer at MEI's online conference Comminution '21 in April. Paul will explore the VCM, its components and origins and the capabilities that it brings to understanding the detailed mechanistic behaviour of particle breakage and particle and slurry transport. The use of such information for design of new machines, for testing of novel machine concepts (before even a physical prototype is constructed) and optimisation of existing machines will be discussed. 

The presentation will showcase advanced full scale VCM models for several crushers and mills. The VCM is already being used to assess some novel comminution machines and to drive rapid design evolution. These developments are commercial in confidence.

For the past 30 years at CSIRO Dr. Paul Cleary has been recognised as a world leader in the development and application of particle based computational methods for the prediction of the behaviour of physical systems. He has published broadly, with more than 600 papers in international journals and conferences. In the recent Stanford University listing of the Top 2% of Scientists in the world Paul was ranked #1 of the 600 elite scientists in the field of Mining & Metallurgy.


1 comment:

  1. I remember in 1980s and 1990s, there were many published papers with subject of optimization of Breakage and Selecion Functions. Most of them began by highligting the fact that just a few percentage of consumed energy in mills are really utilized for size reduction, hence the rest are waste. A paper was claimed that up to 5% of total energy in developed countries are used just in comminution! I belive those researches were not followed in a right way and most of scientists probably looked to them as a theoriticl approach.
    I am very exited to see this imporant industrial problem again has been put on the table to be solved!
    Thanks a lot, Dr. Wills and Dr. Cleary.
    Abbas Tabatabaei, Sweden


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