Heap fluid flow studies based on liquid holdup and novel dispersion measurements

Ilankoon, I.M.S.K., Neethling, S.J., Hydrometallurgy 2014, 2014

In heap leaching the transport of the acid from the drippers to the surface of the ore particles is a major factor in the overall performance of a heap. This flow behaviour is complex as the flow is unsaturated and occurs along a tortuous set of inter-particle channels and connections. The particle properties such as size, shape and porosity are very important when modelling the liquid holdup and flow within heaps, since the dominant mechanisms at work are quite different. This paper investigates the effect of these particle properties experimentally on heap flow behaviour using a 1-D column leaching system consisting of non-porous glass beads with a system of actual ore particles. The similarities and differences between the two systems on flow behaviour are described using an inter-particle flow model. In addition, the applicability of positron emission particle tracking (PEPT) for laboratory column leaching will be detailed to calculate hydrodynamic dispersion in packed beds compared to more conventional residence time distribution (RTD) tests and also to obtain the time averaged rivulet flow paths through the particles of the bed for the better understanding of heap hydrodynamics.

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