Submerged Gas Jet Penetration: A Study of Bubbling Versus Jetting and Side Versus Bottom Blowing in Copper Bath Smelting

9 June, 2017 | White paper

Joel Kapusta

Joël Kapusta, PhD

Senior Consulting Expert, Sonic Injection and Pyrometallurgy

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Although the bottom blowing ShuiKouShan process has now been widely implemented in China, in both lead and copper smelters, some doubts, questions and concerns still seem to prevail in the metallurgical community outside China. In the author’s opinion, part of these doubts and concerns could be addressed by a better general understanding of key concepts of submerged gas injection, including gas jet trajectory and penetration, and the concept, application, and benefits of sonic injection in jetting regime. To provide some answers, this article first offers a discussion on the historical developments of the theory and mathematical characterization of submerged gas jet trajectory, including the proposed criteria for the transition from bubbling to jetting regime and the application of the Prandtl–Meyer theory to submerged gas jets. A second part is devoted to a quantitative study of submerged gas jet penetration in copper bath smelting, including a comparison between bubbling and jetting regimes, and side versus bottom blowing. In the specific cases studied, the calculated gas jet axis trajectory length in jetting regime is 159 cm for bottom blowing, whereas it varies between 129 and 168 cm for side blowing for inclination angles of +18 to 30to the horizontal. This means that side blowing in the jetting regime would provide a deeper penetration and longer gas jet trajectory than generally obtained by conventional bath smelting vessels such as the Noranda and Teniente reactors. The theoretical results of this study do corroborate the successful high-intensity practice of the slag make converting process at Glencore Nickel in Canada that operates under high oxygen shrouded injection in the jetting regime, and this would then suggest that retrofitting conventional low pressure, side-blowing tuyeres of bath smelting and converting reactors with sonic injectors in jetting regime certainly appears as a valuable option for process intensification with higher oxygen enrichment, without major process changes or large capital expenditure, i.e., no need for full reactor replacement.

Note that this white paper was written for The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society.

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