University of Oulu

Characterisation and control of the zinc roasting process

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Author: Nyberg, Jens1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Department of Process and Environmental Engineering
2University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Systems Engineering Laboratory
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2004
Publish Date: 2004-12-07
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Technology, University of Oulu, for public discussion in Kuusamonsali (Auditorium YB210), Linnanmaa, on December 17th, 2004, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Professor Sirkka-Liisa Jämsä-Jounela
Professor Raimo Ylinen


Increasing efficiency is a necessary target for an industrial roaster nowadays. This thesis presents some studies on efficiency improvement in the zinc roasting process - process characterisation, control design, implementation and testing.

The thesis focuses on the roaster, i.e. on research regarding the phenomena in the roaster furnace. By learning more about the roasting mechanism, particle size growth and dynamics of the furnace, new control implementations have been developed. More measurements, analyses and calculated variables have been added to give more information on the state of the furnace. New control variables have been introduced to give the operators more opportunities to set the conditions so that they are more suitable for the actual concentrate feed mixture. Equipment modifications have also been done. In this research, both laboratory and plant experiments have been performed together with thermodynamic evaluations and calculations. It has been necessary to make plant trials in order to obtain information about the impacts of different variables on the process. Only full-scale experiments give reliable results of the behaviour of an industrial furnace. The experiments with the roaster furnace have emphasised the study of both the metallurgy and the dynamics of the roasting process. The on-line calculated oxygen coefficient and its active control have proved important. The particle size distribution analysis of the furnace calcine has been shown to be a significant source of information for evaluating the state of the roasting furnace.

The main target is to improve the economic performance. The key is to be able to be flexible in using different kinds of raw materials, because the main income is the treatment charge. The trend is that concentrates are becoming finer, which increases the challenges for roaster furnace control. The capability to use low-grade concentrates is also a major challenge and improves the economic result.

Research and development on the boiler and mercury removal has also been part of this work for many reasons. Improved boiler performance and mercury removal gives more freedom in choosing concentrates and operating the roaster furnace. The approach has been the same as in the roaster furnace research and development work.

Control improvements based on existing knowledge, such as fuzzy control systems for controlling the furnace temperature and mercury removal, did stabilize the process, but they did not solve all the problems regarding process stability. The research and development concept of this thesis has provided the extra knowledge needed for further improvement of process control. The results of the process characterisation have led to the implementation of a new and effective control strategy.

The research and development carried out has improved performance in a number of ways: increased running time of the furnace and boiler, in-depth knowledge of roasting phenomena which led to new control methods and instructions for the operators, improved quality of sulphuric acid and a method to control its quality, measurements and analyses that give valuable information of the state of the process – all of which are now in use.

In the future, the emphasis will be placed on the research and development of roaster furnace performance, which will be a great challenge. Control of the roaster furnace is the key to the economic success of the roasting process and more information about these phenomena is needed for improving and optimising control.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. C, Technica
ISSN-E: 1796-2226
ISBN: 951-42-7610-8
ISBN Print: 951-42-7609-4
Issue: 217
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2004. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.