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Evaluation of Novel Fine Coal Dewatering Aids
Eraydin, Mert Kerem
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The costs of cleaning fine coal are substantially higher than those of cleaning coarse coal. Therefore, many many coal companies in the U.S. choose to discard fine coal (150 micron x 0) by means of 6-inch diameter hydrocyclones. The cyclone overflows are stored in fine coal impoundments, which create environmental concerns and represent loss of valuable national resources. The major component of the high costs of cleaning fine coal is associated with the difficulty in fine coal dewatering. Therefore, the availability of efficient of fine coal dewatering methods will greatly benefit companies. In the present study, three different novel dewatering aids have been tested. These include Reagents W (RW), Reagent U (RU), and Reagent V (RV). These reagents are designed to increase the contact angles of the coal samples to be dewatered, which should help decrease the Laplace pressure of the water trapped in filter cake and, hence, increase dewatering rate. They were tested on i) the fresh coal samples from Consolidation Coal Corporation's Buchanan Preparation Plant, ii) a composite drill core sample from the Smith Branch Impoundment, Pinnacle Mine Mining Company, and iii) a blend of coals from the Smith Branch Impoundment, thickener underflow, and thickener feed. The coal samples were used initially for laboratory-scale tests using a 2.5-inch diameter Buchner vacuum filter. The results showed that the use of the novel dewatering aids can reduce the cake moisture up to 50% over what can be achieved without using any dewatering aid. The use of the dewatering aids also increased the kinetics of dewatering by up to 6 times, as measured by cake formation times. On the basis of the laboratory test results, pilot-scale continuous vacuum filtration tests were conducted using a 2-feet diameter Peterson vacuum disc filter. The cake moistures obtained in the pilot-scale test work were similar to those obtained in the laboratory tests, while the fast dewatering kinetics observed in the laboratory tests was manifested as higher throughput. It was found that high-shear agitation is essential for achieving low cake moistures and high throughput.
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