Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Prof. Raj K. Rajamani, 1948-2021

There was very sad news this week from USA of the sudden death last Friday of popular University of Utah Professor Raj Rajamani. He was well known for his work on comminution, particularly the discrete element simulation of ball mills and semi-autogenous mills, and for his contribution to computational fluid dynamics.  Most recently his successful research included contributions on high pressure grinding and electrodynamic sorting of light metals and alloys.

Prof. Rajamani at Comminution '10 in Cape Town

Raj graduated from the Dept. of Chemical Engineering at Annamalai University, Madras, India, in 1969. He obtained an M. Tech. in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, in 1971, before moving to the University of Utah, where he completed his M.E. Chemical Engineering in 1973 and a Ph.D. in Metallurgy, in 1979. He then joined the staff of the Department of Metallurgical Engineering, becoming a full Professor in 1994.

In 2009 Raj was the recipient of the SME's Antoine M. Gaudin Award, “For his seminal work in the application of discrete element methods in the modeling of charge motion in semi-autogenous and ball mill grinding, and for his contribution to the basic science of comminution and classification”. Other awards include the SAG High Flyer Award in 2001 for outstanding contributions toward the development of autogenous and semi-autogenous grinding technology, and the Mellow Met Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1995, Department of Metallurgical Engineering, University of Utah.

Our thoughts at this time are with Raj's wife, Sudda, and their two daughters, and I invite all of you who knew Raj to leave your memories in the comments below.

27 comments:

  1. We'll miss him and his beautiful mind so much
    E.Tugcan Tuzcu, MPES, Turkey

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  2. I was absolutely shocked with this sad news. The mineral processing world lost yet another of its brilliant minds. During my PhD at the University of Utah I was first his student in several excellent courses and later his teaching assistant, having an opportunity to engage with him and enjoy relaxed talks beyond the classroom. More recently, as a fellow member of the editorial board of KONA Powder and Particle, I had great opportunities to engage further with him, through our face-to-face editorial board meetings that extended to a couple of days every other year. As Barry pointed out, his contributions to the field have been tremendous and will stand the test of time. As someone who has been involved in the field of comminution, I could go as far as saying that he is the father (if not the only, one of the very few) of the so-called advanced comminution models, owing to his pioneering work on DEM and his role in proposing one of the first microscale population balance models for ball milling.
    Our deepest sympathies for his family, but also to his colleagues at the University of Utah.
    Luís Marcelo Tavares
    Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

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  3. An irreplaceable loss to the mineral processing students.Om Shanti Om

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  4. I was completely shocked to hear about this news. I was fortunate to have a Ph.D. under his guidance. He was an amazing human being and an excellent mentor. All of his students and connections will surely miss him for his thought-provoking conversations, visionary ideas, and spiritual talks. Deepest condolences to his family.
    Nikhil Dhawan
    IIT-Roorkee, India

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  5. I have known Prof. Rajamani for a little over a decade. I worked in his research group between 2010 and 2014 and we kept in touch afterward. If I want to describe Prof. Rajamani in one sentence, I would say he was the most humble person I have ever seen in my life despite his collection of excellent achievements in comminution research.
    Prof. Rajamani was truly a teacher. He could break down complex matters into simple processes and then connect them in a way that made sense. He was a genius that could quickly draw something on paper and turn it into a working prototype and every time it was exactly what it needed to be with minimal modifications here and there. There were times that I was stuck in my Ph.D. research and he would take time to look at the data and what I had to say and then he starts with what about … It was not like there was something that I overlooked, he had this ability to process everything quickly and look past the data and find a direction that could shape the research moving forward.
    For Prof. Rajamani, it wasn’t all about completing a project successfully. It was also about helping his students grow and progress so they are prepared for starting their careers outside the school. He passionately cared about the success of his students.
    The mineral processing community did not just lose a comminution guru, but also an amazing human being. My heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. May his soul rest in peace.
    Samira Rashidi

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  6. One of the known names CFD experts in Mineral Processing and a very humble person.
    May his soul rest in peace....
    Deepest condolences...
    Rama Murthy Yanamandra, Tata Steel India

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  7. I am deeply saddened to learn about Dr. Rajamani's untimely death. I knew him for several decades as a professional, especially as a dedicated member of the Society for Mining Metallurgy and Exploration, Inc. (SME), and most recently as a member of the KONA Americas Editorial Board. He was not only an excellent researcher and teacher but a thorough gentleman. His pioneering research contributions have been recognized by the global research community. His death is a loss to the communition community of an outstanding champion, and the mining and minerals community at large has lost a dedicated and caring professional. He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones, I will cherish his memories in the years to come. - Brij Moudgil

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  8. It was my honor to have worked with Prof. Rajamani's as a member of the Kona Board of the Americas. He was a scholar and a gentleman. I send my deepest condolences to his family and friends. Tony Rosato

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  9. Dr. Raj Rajamani may not have been my PhD advisor (Dr. Jan Miller) but he played an integral part of my PhD education while I was at the "U" from 1998 through 1992. I passed through SLC often since and always made it a point to stop and see at least the two of them. Raj's prowess in mineral processing was second to none. I loved seeing his CFD models and continue to show them to my students. I also love seeing what he was up to in the lab. The last I saw, he was working on his triboelectric separator, then being used for metal recycling. All incredible stuff from an incredible man, proud but humble to the bone. He will be missed. Rest in Peace my friend.

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  10. Shocked and saddened to learn about the passing of a great human being and a friend. I had the pleasure of knowing Rajamani professionally for a few decades, especially through SME meetings. I fondly remember our chit chats (some in our shared mother tongue) and the discussions on a variety of topics one of them being mineral industry education about which he was passionate. I also remember his SME presentations. It will take me a while to accept his passing. What a big loss to our community. My thoughts and prayers to his family. May his soul rest in peace

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  11. I am very sad that Raj has left us. We both are ChemE at heart applying the ChemE Science to Mineral Processing. We used have nice conversations every year (40 years). I am very honored to have met Raj in 1978. We all know of his work in comminution. Well, he also work in hydrocyclone models. I had the pleasure to implement the dynamic grinding models with the Rao-Lynch-Plitt hydrocyclone models. These provide the effect of the rheology in the grinding based on the solid-water balances. We also added the mill rotational speed into the models. In 1983, we added the sump-pump models which provided the extra degree of freedom for the grinding optimization and a 30% increase in throughput. Then, his SAG Mill liner designs gave to Alumbrera another 25-30% increase in throughput in 1997. Raj was a great leader providing his experience on running the Utah Grinding Automated Plant to our Flotation Pilot plant for the development of Dynamic Flotation Model. He helped me to connect all the key measurements to the HP Computer to gather the data while running a continuous flotation plant. Here, we applied the hydrodynamics knowledge to a flotation machine and most importantly the effect of the tailings flow rate on the two phase flow (Pulp/Air) models. Most of the flotation research work as been carried out using batch flotation cells neglecting this flux model very important aspect of industrial flotation. A shock wave creates de pulp/froth interface. It was not easy to solve these dynamic equations. Raj assisted me for many years of developing a working interactive model. He shared all his knowledge on running a pilot plant under computer controls with me. And, how to create and run the dynamic simulations. In 1983, we got access to plant data from industry supporters of our work, we refined our dynamic grinding and hydrocyclone models. We also integrated the grinding with flotation. While working on a challenging thickener online dynamic model, we integrated with particle size distribution and ore type with the thickening dynamic models to model the effect ore density variations with settling and compression viscosity models. Here, we got to apply our knowledge using industrial data. These many years working in the next office from Raj we saw many innovations in particulate systems processes using the computing power that started to become available in micro-computers to build digital twin models as they are called today. I will always remember
    having our chemical engineering science conversations with Raj.

    I will never forget when Raj finished his PhD thesis and got his new job at the UofU. One day he arrived very discreetly to show me his new Saab top of the line car. He was very happy. Then, he went to India to get married with his wife Sudda. Raj, You were an exceptional person and I will missed you. You shared so much time with me, including hiking and camping in the beautiful Utah Canyons, Thanks. My deepest condolences to Sudda and his family.

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  12. Raj was a beloved professor at the U. He was humble, kind, and passionate about teaching! Especially that complicated statistics! He made it easy to learn and understand...
    His contribution to comminution will remain the solid cornerstone of the framework of computational mineral processing.
    He will be missed dearly...

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  13. Very sad news, thanks for sharing. Raj was a trailblazer and will be missed, and remembered.
    Peter Amelunxen, VP Technical Services at Hudbay Minerals Inc., Canada

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  14. I was really shocked to hear this news. He was a great advisor and a great human being.
    Swadhin Saurabh, FLSmidth, USA

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  15. Raj was a beloved professor at the U. He was humble, kind, and passionate about teaching! Especially that complicated statistics! He made it easy to learn and understand...
    His contribution to comminution will remain the solid cornerstone of the framework of computational mineral processing.
    He will be missed dearly...
    Behzad Vaziri Hassas, Penn State University, USA

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  16. Myself and my brother Rao spent few hours with on 5th August discussing various topics from his favorite DEM to spirituality. We are still in shock to know his sudden loss. He was very passionate about teaching and always brings innovative ways to convey the message to students. I am going to meet the family in few hours…don’t know how to face them.
    Sanjeeva Latchireddi, EE-Mill Solutions, USA

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  17. The loss of Prof Rajamani has left avoid within our group, he dedicated his efforts to mentoring students rather than financial gain from his expertise. A great human being who seldomly mentioned his achievements. Just 2 weeks ago our DEM group of which he was a founding member received an NVIDIA inception award for milling digital twins, this brought a new energy to him.
    I will plan a special issue related to DEM and CFD in milling from his students, many of which have commented here.
    Nicolin Govender, University of Johannesburg.

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  18. Dr. Raj K Rajamani was my PhD supervisor. The experience of working with him shaped me as a future professional. He was an exceptional teacher with lot of patience. He not only taught me in various courses, but also about technical communication. Even after graduation, he was always there to help me out every time I was in need. It's rare to come across a kind person like him. His untimely death is hard to accept. The grief is very deep. His departure leaves a permanent void in our life. Rest in peace Dr. Rajamani. You will be always in our heart. Amlan Datta

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  19. Just now saw this posting and deeply saddened. I met him many times and it is indeed a great loss to profession. He guided so many with his deep knowledge and soft nature. At personal level we exchanged many mails--how do I express?
    May His Soul rest in peace.

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  20. Shocked and saddened by this news. I have taken few courses from Dr. Raj while at UofU and engaged in discussion few times, Dr. Raj has definitely left big gap in the mineral processing field, particularly ball milling. He will always be missed. Thoughts and prayers for his family. Om Shanti

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  21. The most recent paper of Professor Raj K. Rajamani on the simulation of grinding mills, entitled Verification of Polyhedral DEM with Laboratory Grinding Mill Experiments, which was published online hardly a week before his death, reflects his - and two co-authors - scientific perfection and gives directions for the future comminution research. I will miss a good colleague of high expectations and credible in research. Deepest condolences to his family. Jan Hupka, Gdansk University of Technology, Poland

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  22. Dr Rajamani's seminal work on DEM has achieved global impact on the mineral processing industry. Today the method is a standard tool for design and optimization on SAG-mill circuits all around the world. His teaching has inspired so many students not just from the University of Utah, where I had the privileged to meet him, but touching so many others hearts that learn from his humbleness and kindness, curiosity and perseverance. His legacy will stay forever with us. My deepest condolences to his beautiful family and to the whole community. We will certainly miss you Dear Raj.
    Alvaro Videla, PhD
    Professor
    Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

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  23. This is his daughter - Preetha Rajamani. We will be planning a celebration of his life event in the coming months once our family has has a chance to grieve and fully process. If you would like to write notes about your experiences with my father, you can also send them to this gmail that we have specially created: rkr.Celebration.Of.Life@gmail.com.

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  24. Raj was a good friend and wonderful mentor to me at Utah. I am so sorry for his family. He will be missed greatly. Mike Moats, Missouri S&T.

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  25. Very shocking to hear that Prof. Rajamani is no more with us. Prof. Rajamani is one of the legends in Mineral Processing particularly on application of computational modelling. I have always admired his Excellency in computational modelling via both CFD and DEM and closely followed his research work as a benchmark to validate. Although my interaction with Prof. Rajamani is limited, every time I had learnt a lot and always motivated me to get fascinated about the computational modelling. Recently in July first week, I have received one of my PhD scholar’s thesis report reviewed by Prof. Rajamani, where the constructive and insightful feedback on each chapter the way assessed & appreciated is really motivated us. We miss such a great teacher (guru), father of Computational research, mentor in Mineral Processing. My deepest condolence for prof. Rajamani’s family.

    Narasimha Mangadoddy
    IIT Hyderabad, India

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  26. I was completely shocked to hear about this news. I met him at his Chennai residence +20 years ago and discuss how to imrove a SAG mill production at one of the mine site in India. He was a great guy and very professional. I enjoyed working with him for one more project thereafter. He was an amazing human being and a great guy. He will be missed greatly. May his soul rest in peace.

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  27. I am not from Prof. Rajamani's research field. I met with Prof. Rajamani a few times though. What was apparent in my interactions with him were: his soft spoken nature, humility, and kindness. He is a person who I would call a true gentleman and down to earth individual. God bless his soul and help his family overcome this loss.

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