Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X
KEMPSON, W.J.; WEBBER-YOUNGMAN, R.C.W. and MEYER, J.P.. Optimizing shaft pressure losses through computational fluid dynamics modelling. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2013, vol.113, n.12, pp.931-939. ISSN 2411-9717.
As a result of the rising electrical energy costs in South Africa, a method was sought to reduce the overall electrical consumption of typical shaft systems. A typical shaft configuration was analysed and the primary energy consumers were identified. The ventilation fans for this system were found to consume 15% of the total energy of the shaft system. It was calculated that more than 50% of this energy is consumed by the shaft itself, more specifically, by the pressure losses that occur in the shaft as the ventilation air passes through it. In order to ensure that the theory being used for the evaluation of these shaft systems is accurate, a total of five shafts were instrumented and the actual pressure losses over the shafts plotted against time. These shafts were then analysed from a theoretical perspective. Finally, in order to ensure a thorough understanding of the behaviour of the ventilation air in shaft systems, the systems were simulated using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) techniques. There were significant discrepancies between the theoretical analysis and the CFD simulation during the initial comparisons. This discrepancy lessened as the complexity of the CFD models increased, until when the complete shaft was modelled using the full bunton sets, the pipes, and the flanges, the difference between the theoretical evaluation and the CFD simulation was small. This result demonstrates that the theory is insufficient and that the interrelated effect of the buntons and fittings has not been fully appreciated by current theory. The final phase of the work presented here was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of using different bunton shapes and shaft configurations. It is shown that the increase in the pressure losses and therefore the direct operating costs of the shaft can vary by as much as 80%, depending on the bunton configuration chosen. The placement of the piping in the shaft can increase the pressure losses, and therefore the direct operating costs of the shaft, by as much as 12%, depending on the placement of the piping in the shaft; this effect includes the use of flanges. The use of fairings on a large cage can reduce the resistance that the cage offers to the ventilation flow by as much as 30%. This, however, does not translate into a direct saving because as the cage moves through the shaft, the overall effect is transitory. These savings can be significant when the items highlighted in this work are applied correctly.
Keywords : shaft design; ventilation; energy consumption; modelling; CFD.