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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X

J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. vol.110 n.11 Johannesburg Nov. 2010




The potential of electrostatic separation in the upgrading of South African fine coal prior to utilization - a review



S.O. Bada; R.M.S. Falcon; L.M. Falcon

School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa




Coal is a complex mixture of organic and mineral constituents and is the most abundant resource of fossil energy in the world. In recent years, significant research into dry coal beneficiation has gained much attention, primarily due to the need to improve grades and reduce the environmental contaminants in coal without the use of water, and to achieve this in as cost-effective manner as possible, relative to wet beneficiation processes. This paper seeks to review the application of various electrostatic separators with their process principles, to draw comparisons between different dry beneficiation techniques with specific emphasis on the triboelectrostatic separation method, and finally to report the results of triboelectrostatic separation conducted on various South African coals. Previous research conducted on Indian, European and American coals has indicated that this technique is likely to lead to significant economic benefit through the reduction of ash content, NOx and more specifically SOx by separating out the liberated Fe-S-bearing minerals prior to utilization. The removal of the latter suite of minerals is also likely to significantly reduce or eliminate the emissions of associated trace elements, including mercury and arsenic. The research results reported in this paper indicate that the rotary triboelectrostatic process has the potential for significant upgrading of high ash pulverized South African coal. The impact of various operational parameters was investigated and key factors established for the optimum recovery of low ash and low sulphur fine coal.

Keywords: Coal, dry beneficiation, electrostatic technique, rotary triboelectrostatic separator, high-gradient magnetic separation



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