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IBP1127_19

INFLUENCE OF ULTRAFINE PARTICLES IN


THE RHEOLOGY OF MINERAL SLURRIES
Maycon S. Maycon1, Rafael B. Rafael 2

Copyright 2019, Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute - IBP


This Technical Paper was prepared for presentation at the Rio Pipeline Conference and Exhibition 2019, held
between 03 and 05 of September, in Rio de Janeiro. This Technical Paper was selected for presentation by the
Technical Committee of the event according to the information contained in the final paper submitted by the
author(s). The organizers are not supposed to translate or correct the submitted papers. The material as it is
presented, does not necessarily represent Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute’ opinion, or that of its
Members or Representatives. Authors consent to the publication of this Technical Paper in the Rio Pipeline
Conference and Exhibition 2019.

Abstract

It is common to carry mineral particles through the pipeline over long distances, however,
usually these particles are too thin, coupled with high solids percentages, making the slurry
assumes a totally homogeneous and easily transported character. The present work presents a
condition in which the particles to be transported, when compared to the currently operated
pipelines, are said to be coarse. One way to enable the transport of particles with these
characteristics is to adjust the rheology of the slurry to obtain a minimum yield stress to avoid
the stratification of the particles and to enable transportation. In this work, 4 samples with 5.0,
7.5, 10.0 and 12.0% granulometry were tested in 0.15 mm and in the respective samples were
added the percentages of 2.91, 4.76 and 6, 54%% of material considered ultrafine to adjust the
rheology of the slurry. The results showed that the addition of ultrafine material even at low
proportions is capable of producing significant effects on viscosity and shear stress in addition
to acting as a regulated agent of the described quantities.

Keywords: Rheology, shear stress, yield stress, slurry.

1. Introduction

The transport of coarse particles via duct is a trend of the mineral operations in force
due to the drop in quality of the deposits and the distance between the exploration fronts and
the processing plant.
Because of the high relocation cost of all the unit operations of the plants, it is feasible
to study a modal of alternative transportation that connects the exploration region to the
concentration plant, which is known as a pipeline.
The grain size of the material, however, is an obstacle to this transport due to the high
speed to keep the particles in suspension and the fact that it does not present minimum
rheological conditions for the safe transport through pipeline.
To make possible the long-distance transport of materials with these characteristics it is
necessary to reduce the minimum transport speed, and this is obtained through the suitability
of the rheology by adding ultrafine particles that act as a dense bed for the larger particles
reducing the transport speed.

______________________________
1
Senior, Mechanical Engineer - PROGEN ENGENHARIA
2
Senior, Process Engineer – VALE
Rio Pipeline Conference and Exhibition 2019

Investigational tests were carried out on four samples with different particle sizes and
with the addition of 2.91, 4.76 and 6.54% of ultrafine material to identify the amount required
to reach the minimum stress yield of the slurry of 10.0 dyn / cm² being the minimum
recommended value for transportation. within the usual concentrations in long distance
pipelines.

1.1. Effect of Ultrafine Particles on the Rheology of Mineral Slurries

The effect of the reduction in ore grading is directly related to the increase of the specific
surface of the mineral particles. The mechanical effect caused by physical interactions between
the particles is reduced while the chemical effects from the interparticle interactions at the solid-
liquid interface increases gradually (Possa and Lima, 2000). The performance of the Van Der
Waals forces causes an increase in the viscosity of the mineral slurry due to the attraction
between the particles (He et al, 2006).
In practical environments and with a mechanically focused approach, it can be said that
the ultrafine particles present in the iron ore slurry form a fluid with homogeneous
characteristics, even altering the yield stress and density of carrier fluid used as transport
medium. The increase of these properties of the transport fluid causes an increase in the active
thrust in the coarse particles leading to a reduction in the segregation during transport by
pipeline (Alves, 2013).
There are theories that aim to demonstrate the minimum size of the mineral particles in
which the formation of a homogeneous fluid occurs and that in fact contributes to the
rheological alteration of the mineral slurries, to the point of significantly changing yield stress
and slurry viscosity. A widely accepted concept in practical applications mentions that the
particles contribute significantly to the change of rheological parameters when they obey the
Stokes sedimentation law (Alves, 2013).
Mineral slurries, especially iron ore slurries with high solids percentage, follow the
behavior of a pseudoplastic fluid governed by the Binghan model (Slatter, 1999). This type of
fluid requires an initial stress to flow known as yield stress. Mineral slurries with low yield
stress tend to behave with a heterogeneous character and it is not advisable to transport them to
long distances via pipeline. On the other hand, slurries with yield stress above 10.0 din / cm²,
have a homogeneous behavior at high concentrations even in the presence of coarse particle
fractions (Plitt, 1991).

2. Materials and methods

The iron ore samples tested in the present work were obtained from drilling holes made
in the Conceição do Mato Dentro region in the interior of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The material
was milled and discarded on benchtop equipment to achieve approximate conditions where,
5.0, 7.5, 10.0 and 12.0% were materials retained in the 0.15 mm mesh, respectively. The
ultrafine material was obtained in the final milling step of said ore with 100% granulometry in
the 0.075 mm mesh. This ultrafine material was added in the samples given in percentages of
2.91, 4.76 and 6.54%, such values being mass-referenced using precision scale.

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The resulting mixtures had the pH and weight percent solids adjusted with distilled
water to usual values in known slurries, ranging from 65.0 to 73.0% solids. Subsequently, each
sample was characterized in terms of particle size distribution, solids specific gravity and
rheology. The tests are described below.

2.1. Granulometric Distribution Test

The granulometric distribution tests were carried out by the SENAI-MG Center of
Innovation and Technology, using the technique of wet sieving and for the fractions of solids
below 0.045 mm, the technique of granulometric analysis was used by means of the
granulometer laser Cilas 920 liquid.
The analysis was performed for each sample individually to later identify the condition
for blends with ultrafine materials. Therefore, tests were performed for the samples as described
below:

• Sample 01 - 5,0% de material retained in 0.15 mm;


• Sample 02 - 7.5% of material retained in 0.15 mm;
• Sample 03 - 10.0% of material retained in 0.15 mm;
• Sample 04 - 12.0% of material retained in 0.15 mm;
• Sample 05 - 100% passing through 0.045 mm (ultrathin).
The results obtained for the 5 samples alone are shown in figure 01 below:

Figure 1. Granulometric distribution of samples in Blank

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2.2. Real Density of Solids test

The tests were carried out by the Innovation and Technology Center of SENAI-MG.
The samples were sent as slurry which was filtered, dried in an electric oven, quartered and
sifted. The density measurements were performed in the fractions above and below 0.045 mm.
For this, a real density analyzer was used in which the pressure exerted by the volume of helium
injected in a specific volume of sample was measured using a Stereopicnometer to Helium of
the manufacturer QuantaChrome. The density values for the 5 samples are shown in table 01
below:
Table 01 - Density of the solids of the blank samples

Sample Density (g/cm3)


Sample 01 - 5.0% of material retained in 0.15 mm 3,68
Sample 02 - 7.5% of material retained in 0.15 mm 3,66
Sample 03 - 10.0% material retained in 0.15 mm 3,62
Sample 04 - 12.0% material retained in 0.15 mm; 3,55
Sample 05 - 100% passing through 0.045 mm
2,98
(ultrafine)

2.3. Rheology Test

The rheology tests were performed using the Anton Paar Rheolab QC rheometer, with
concentric cylinder system, at four different concentrations of solids. In this test the shear rate
is varied by recording the value of the corresponding shear stress.
The tests were carried out at different concentrations of solids and because of the
difference in solids density, it was necessary to adjust the slurry solids percentage to obtain the
same comparative base for all the samples. The following rheological relationships were used
to adjust.

y = A  B / =10 Vr B′ (1)

Where:

  l
 (2)
 s  l

l
  (3)
l
1  cw (  1)
s


Vr  (4)
1

Cw = concentration of solid by weight;

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 = volumetric fraction of solids;


Vr = volumetric ratio of solids;
y = stress to flow in dina/cm2;
 slurry viscosity in centiPoise;
= water viscosity at measured temperature;
= Reduced viscosity;
s = Specific mass of solids;
A = yield stress coefficient;
B = yield stress exponent;
B´ = viscosity exponent.

The results obtained in the cited rheometer were interpreted using the Binghan plastic
fluid model as shown below:

= +y, (5)

Onde:

 = shear stress (Pa);


 = slurry viscosity (mPa.s);
 = shear rate (1/s);
y = stress to flow (Pa).

As a criterion for acceptance of the rheological condition for transport via pipeline, it
was considered the range of percentage of solids of the pipelines in operation (65 to 73%), ie,
to be considered adequate for transportation via pipelines the slurry must present shear stress
minimum of 10.0 dyn / cm² over the entire solids concentration range by weight.
The results obtained for the blank samples, ie without addition of ultrafine material are
presented in table 02 below:

Table 2 - Rheological data of the blank samples

 y
Sample Cw (%)  Vr
(cP) / (din/cm2)
A B B’
67,10% 0,357 0,554 7,12 8,98 5,28
Sample 01 - 5.0% of material 69,60% 0,384 0,622 11,78 11,75 27,09
6,00E+10 22,45 1,7
retained in 0.15 mm 72,00% 0,411 0,699 15,80 15,92 130,40
74,40% 0,441 0,790 24,04 22,82 631,14
67,10% 0,357 0,554 7,40 9,33 4,48
Sample 02 - 7.5% of material 69,60% 0,384 0,622 12,29 12,27 26,08
3,00E+11 24,17 1,8
retained in 0.15 mm 72,00% 0,411 0,699 16,58 16,70 141,60
74,40% 0,441 0,790 25,39 24,10 773,26
67,10% 0,357 0,554 6,94 8,75 3,82
Sample 03 - 10.0% material 69,60% 0,384 0,622 11,44 11,42 18,58
2,00E+10 21,7 1,7
retained in 0.15 mm 72,00% 0,411 0,699 15,30 15,41 84,86
74,40% 0,441 0,790 23,18 22,01 389,54

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67,10% 0,357 0,554 5,88 7,42 7,40


Sample 04 - 12.0% material 69,60% 0,384 0,622 9,50 9,48 26,03
4,00E+08 17,27 1,6
retained in 0.15 mm; 72,00% 0,411 0,699 12,41 12,50 87,17
74,40% 0,441 0,790 18,30 17,37 293,09

3. Results and discussions

3.1. Granulometric Distribution

With the low addition of ultrafine material, there was no significant change in the
granulometry of the material. The d50, which is a parameter used in several calculation
methodologies to determine the minimum transport velocity, presented an alteration of less than
1.0%, being irrelevant for determining the speed mentioned. However, an interesting condition
to be mentioned is that although the addition of ultrafine material is not representative in the
granulometric aspect, when it comes to rheology the situation is inverted and the fine fraction
has remarkable relevance in the characteristics of the slurry even with relatively low dosage.

3.2. Real Density of Solids

As with the grain size distribution, the density of solids also did not significantly
influence the average density of the material. The final density of the material was reduced
because the density of the ultrafine material was lower, however, as the dosage was low, the
final density was not significantly altered.
The variation in solid density made it difficult to compatibilize the solids percentages
during the tests, however, the concentration variations, as mentioned, were adjusted with the
rheological relations presented previously.

3.3. Rheology

For samples 01 and 02, the addition of ultrafine material that yielded a minimum stress
yield of 10 dyn / cm² was 4.76% while for samples 03 and 04 this percentage increased to
6.54%. This alteration happened, therefore, the samples 01 and 02 are thinner in comparison to
the others, requiring a smaller dosage to reach the necessary rheological characteristics.
However, it was found that even low dosages of ultrafine material in samples 01, 02 and 03 led
to the desired rheological condition at high solids concentrations, however, at low
concentrations the low dosages were not sufficient to reach the acceptance criteria for
transportation via duct.
Another beneficial effect of the addition of ultrafine in the samples was the stabilization
of yield stress, that is, for the concentrations of low solids, within the studied ranges, the dosages
led to a significant increase of yield stress reaching the criteria Moreover, for higher solids
concentrations, the dosage caused a significant reduction in shear stress. This effect makes it
possible to perform the pumping with higher concentrations, resulting in less energy release for
pumping.

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A similar effect on slurry viscosity was identified. In other words, the addition of the
ultrafine material caused a reduction in the dynamic viscosity of the slurry relative to the blank
samples. This effect is related to the reduction of segregation of coarse material by increasing
the density of the bearing bed of the coarse particles and reducing the packing of the particles.
In any case, viscosity reduction leads to a significant reduction in pumping energy and pressures
in pipes, especially long-distance pipes.

3.3.1 Sample Result 01

For sample 01, considering the dosage of 4.76% of ultrafine material, a significant
increase of the yield stress was obtained to the point of feasibility of transport by pipeline. It is
notorious that adding only 2.91% attached to the fines present in the blank, that is, without
addition of ultrafines, the rheological characteristics required for the studied concentrations
would be reached, however, as the usual percentage range of solids in industrial pipelines is
greater, it was decided to adopt the dosage mentioned above. Table 03 below presents the results
for the blank sample, with addition of 2.91% and 4.76% of ultrafine material, respectively.

Table 03 - Rheological data of Sample 01

 y
Dosage Sample Cw (%)  Vr
(cP) / (din/cm2)
A B B’

67,10% 0,357 0,554 7,12 8,98 5,28


BLANK

SAMPLE 69,60% 0,384 0,622 11,78 11,75 27,09


6,00E+10 22,45 1,7
IN

01 72,00% 0,411 0,699 15,80 15,92 130,40


74,40% 0,441 0,790 24,04 22,82 631,14
67,10% 0,357 0,554 5,66 7,14 11,46
ULTRAFINE ULTRAFINE
2,91%

SAMPLE 69,60% 0,384 0,622 9,10 9,08 25,59


1,00E+06 11,03 1,5
01 72,00% 0,411 0,699 11,83 11,91 55,39
74,40% 0,441 0,790 17,33 16,45 120,20
67,10% 0,357 0,554 6,60 8,32 17,34
4,76%

SAMPLE 69,60% 0,384 0,622 10,81 10,78 32,58


1,31E+05 8,66 1,66
01 72,00% 0,411 0,699 14,35 14,45 59,73
74,40% 0,441 0,790 21,56 20,46 109,73

3.3.2 Sample Result 02

For sample 02, the same phenomena presented for sample 01 was identified, that is, the
dosage of 4.76% of ultrafine material was satisfactory for the purpose of duct transport. The
dosage of 2.91% of ultrafine material was competent for higher solids percentages, however,
for the lower concentration ranges normally used in long distance pipelines, said dosage was
insufficient to suit the rheology of the slurry to the point of making safe transport via pipeline
viable. Table 4 below shows the results obtained.

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Table 04 - Rheological data of Sample 02

y

Dosage Sample Cw (%)  Vr
(cP) / (din/cm2 A B B’
)
67,10% 0,358 0,557 7,49 9,44 4,88
BLANK

SAMPLE 69,60% 0,385 0,626 12,46 12,44 28,28


IN

3,00E+11 24,17 1,8


02 72,00% 0,413 0,703 16,84 16,96 153,00
74,40% 0,443 0,794 25,83 24,52 832,25
ULTRAFINE ULTRAFINE

67,10% 0,358 0,557 4,78 6,03 12,26


2,91%

SAMPLE 69,60% 0,385 0,626 7,53 7,51 29,48


3,00E+06 12,07 1,4
02 72,00% 0,413 0,703 9,56 9,63 68,50
74,40% 0,443 0,794 13,62 12,93 159,63
67,10% 0,358 0,557 7,11 8,97 14,65
4,76%

SAMPLE 69,60% 0,385 0,626 11,77 11,74 31,55


7,52E+05 10,55 1,7
02 72,00% 0,413 0,703 15,78 15,90 65,94
74,40% 0,443 0,794 24,01 22,79 138,12

3.3.3 Sample Result 03

The tests performed for sample 03 considering the addition of only 2.91% of ultrafine
material did not present adequate rheology, therefore, the tests were performed from the dosage
of 4.76%. As the material of the 03 sample has a coarser granulometry when compared to the
previous two, the dosage of 4.76% despite reaching the rheological parameters for the bands of
high concentrations did not reach the same competence for lower concentrations, of 6.54% of
ultrafine material, changed the rheology to allow, in all the usual concentration ranges, the
transport via pipelines. See table 05 below:

Table 5 - Rheological data of Sample 03

 y
/
Cw
Dosage Sample  Vr A B B’
(%) (cP) (din/cm2)
67,10% 0,360 0,563 7,20 9,07 4,81
BLANK

SAMPLE 69,60% 0,387 0,632 11,92 11,89 23,14 2,00E+


IN

21,7 1,7
03 72,00% 0,415 0,710 16,01 16,13 104,61 10

74,40% 0,445 0,803 24,40 23,16 475,12


67,10% 0,360 0,563 5,48 6,91 12,52
ULTRAFINE
4,76%

SAMPLE 69,60% 0,387 0,632 8,78 8,76 26,65 5,31E+


10,44 1,5
03 72,00% 0,415 0,710 11,36 11,44 55,08 05

74,40% 0,445 0,803 16,55 15,71 114,08

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ULTRAFINE
67,10% 0,360 0,563 6,16 7,77 17,78
6,54%
SAMPLE 69,60% 0,387 0,632 10,01 9,98 37,35 6,25E+
10,26 1,6
03 72,00% 0,415 0,710 13,16 13,25 76,21 05
74,40% 0,445 0,803 19,55 18,56 155,82

3.3.4 Sample Result 04

The tests performed for sample 04 considering the addition of only 2.91% and 4.56%
of ultrafine material did not present adequate rheology, so the tests were performed from the
4.76% dosage. As the material of the sample 04 shows a coarser granulometry when compared
to the previous three, the addition of 6.54% of ultrafine material was the only one among the
dosages studied that led the slurry to the acceptance criterion suitable for transport via duct.
The following table shows the condition of sample 04 with said ultrafine dosage.

Table 6- Sample rheological data 04

 y
/
Cw
Dosage Sample  Vr A B B’
(%) (cP) (din/cm2)
67,10% 0,365 0,575 6,33 7,98 11,01
BRANCO

SAMPLE 69,60% 0,392 0,645 10,32 10,29 38,08


EM

4,00E+08 17,27 1,6


04 72,00% 0,420 0,724 13,61 13,72 125,30
74,40% 0,450 0,819 20,32 19,29 413,52
ULTRAFINE

67,10% 0,365 0,575 7,13 8,99 15,35


6,54%

SAMPLE 69,60% 0,392 0,645 11,79 11,76 35,54


2,00E+06 11,68 1,7
04 72,00% 0,420 0,724 15,82 15,94 79,56
74,40% 0,450 0,819 24,08 22,85 178,44

4. Conclusions

Even with relatively low dosage, the presence of the ultrafine particles in the iron ore
slurry caused a normalization in the yield stress of the slurry leading to an increase in the lower
solids concentrations within the range studied and the reduction in the concentrations of high
solids. The results obtained by Plitt (1991) show that the rheological parameters are directly
related to the presence of ultrafine material in the mineral slurry.
For samples 1/2/3, lower dosages of ultrafine material resulted in a reduction in slurry
dynamic viscosity, probably due to the reduction of grain size segregation due to increased
carrier fluid density. For sample 04, there was an increase in slurry viscosity, which is believed
to be an inversion between the sovereignty of the mechanical iterations between the particles
by forces of origin and chemical interactions.

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5. References

ALVES, M.S. O uso dos hidrociclones em usinas de beneficiamento de minérios - UFMG, p.57,
2013
HE, M., WANG, Y., FORSSBER, G. E., Parameter studies on the rheology of limestone
slurries. International Journal of Mineral Processing, (78) 2006, p. 63-77.
PLITT, L.R. (1991) A mathematical model of the gravity classifier. In: XVII the International
Mineral Processing Congress, Dresden, v. 1, p. 123-35
POSSA, M. V., LIMA, J. R. B., Comportamento Reológico de Polpas Minerais. CETEM/
MCT, Rio de Janeiro – Brasil, 2000.
SLATTER, P.T. The role of rheology in the pipelining of mineral slurries. Mineral Processing
and Extractive Metallurgy Review; V. 20, p.281-300, 1999.

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