CFD-DEM models for matte droplet settling in a flash smelting settler

Heliyon. 2023 Oct 29;9(11):e21570. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e21570. eCollection 2023 Nov.


The flash smelting process is widely used in copper production. In the process, sulfidic feed and flux are oxidized. The heat released in the reactions melts the feed which forms a slag layer through which matte droplets must settle. Understanding the different phenomena affecting the settling is important to minimize losses. Due to the high temperature, simulation methods were employed to study settling. In this work, coupled CFD-DEM was used to study the effect of coalescence and reactions with in-house built submodels and scaled-down geometries. Colliding droplets often coalesce into larger droplets while reactions decrease their size and make them denser. These increase the settling velocity which is further enhanced by the formation of a channeling flow. Channels make the droplet cluster denser causing more collisions. This method enables the phenomena to be studied at the individual droplets' details, although simulating a full-scale process is beyond the available computational resources.

Keywords: Coalescence; Copper; Reaction kinetics; Simulation; Slag.