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MEI Online: Solid-Liquid Separation: Latest News: November 1st 2002


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:: Collaborative Filtration Research Takes Shape  

A collaborative research project aimed at improving filtration performance is taking shape at the Australian mineral industry's research association, AMIRA International Limited. The new Improving Filtration Technology project, already known by its AMIRA code 'P587,' is attracting significant interest from the world's leading mineral companies, who have just received a comprehensive report from the pre-cursor scoping study.

Research coordinator with AMIRA, David Stribley, outlines developments so far. "Our members want a collaborative research investment to deliver improved filtration technology, so over the past eight months, AMIRA has commissioned, completed and reported a scoping study to sponsors. The study provides a factual foundation of the industry's current situation and a provisional framework for a research program. The research framework is based on our understanding of:

  • a global inventory of the current state and key issues in commercial operations
  • current techniques, technology, gaps and future needs
  • current research activities, focus, timelines and gaps
  • a directory of the world's leading researchers in filtration and
  • a comprehensive literature review.

Response to the Scoping Study is understood to be very positive and with facilitation from AMIRA, the research teams at the Melbourne University and CSIRO are already preparing the detailed research proposal for a three-year project. According to David Stribley, this detailed research proposal is to be discussed with industry over the next month with a view to a project start 'no later than January 2003.'

David Stribley believes that another Association project 'Improving Thickener Technology" (currently in its fourth renewal as P266D), provides a 'jump start' for the new Filtration project through credibility and a proven model for collaborative investment. "P266 has been one of the Association's most successful projects and has been running continuously through five extensions over 13 years. The project is sponsored by 28 companies including most of the major international mining companies, equipment and flocculant suppliers. It is a significant collaborative effort."

David said that before P266 came into the picture, thickening was something of a black art. "The sub-processes were neither known nor understood and operators relied a great deal on 'feel' for effective management of the plant. There were views from industry that the equipment and flocculant suppliers did not have the appropriate tools to adequately design thickeners to optimum performance.
Once P266 began to deliver an improved understanding of the various processes, progressive improvement became possible. There's no doubt that P266 provides us with a great deal of credibility for collaborative investment in research on industry issues and we expect the new Filtration research to follow a similar model."

For instance, the latest renewal of P266 is focused on the development and delivery to sponsors of an integrated, whole-of-process thickener model that will be based on computation fluid dynamics (CFD). "With P587, the research is aimed at opening up the opportunities for improvement in Filtration processes through a knowledge based system or improved process models. Although it will take some time to develop a fully integrated model for filtration, due to the vast array of equipment being used by industry, we hope to use the experience, techniques and technology from P266 to shorten the timelines. In P587, the initial task is to gain a better understanding of the various types of filters, and their operational dynamics. This will provide some of the key data to be the foundations of the CFD models."

David says that the eventual research program for Improving Filtration Technology is likely to be in three modules: -
Chemical Conditioning - Design and Optimisation for Filtration
Application of Filtration Models to Industrial Practice
Development of a Filtration Problem Resolver - a roadmap for finding solutions to filtration problems
"These three modules will be running concurrently with six monthly reporting to sponsors via detailed progress reports and sponsors review meetings " said David. "The research teams, which already have been in close collaboration on the P266 project, will bring their individual talents under the collaborative umbrella, with the support of industry specialists as required from time to time."




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