Drying of fine coal using warm air in a dense medium fluidised bed
Van Rensburg, Martha Johanna
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Fluidised bed drying is currently receiving much attention as a dewatering option after the beneficiation of fine coal (defined in this study as between 1mm and 2mm particles). The aim of this study was to investigate the removal of moisture from fine coal by using air at relatively low temperatures of between 25°C and 60°C within a controlled environment by lowering of the relative humidity of air. The first part of the experimental work was completed in a controlled climate chamber with the coal samples in a static non-fluidised state. Drying in the second part was carried out using a fluidised bed with conditioned air as the fluidising medium. Introduction of airflow to the system led to a lower moisture content in the coal samples and it also proved to have the ability to increase the drying rate. It was determined that the airflow had the ability to remove more free moisture from the filter cake. In addition more inherent moisture could also be removed by using upward flowing air, resulting in a lower equilibrium moisture content. It was proven that the airflow rate and relative humidity of the drying air contributed to faster drying rates. The effect of temperature was not as significant as expected, but higher temperatures did increase the drying rate at higher airflow and lower humidity conditions. The larger surface areas of particles create surface and capillary forces that prevent the moisture from leaving the finer coal particles. It was found that the rate of drying is independent of the moisture content in the coal sample. Just in terms of the fastest drying time and drying rate in the fluidised bed, it was concluded that the most efficient conditions is airflow above minimum fluidisation point causing vigorous mixing and maximum contact with the drying air. In addition to the high airflow it was concluded that 30% relative humidity and 55°C resulted in the fastest drying time. All the drying processes at all the airflow rates, temperature and relative humidity conditions were energy efficient. This process was shown to be energy positive, resulting in an overall energy gain. The overall energy consumption for the fluidised bed is lower than for all the dryer systems compared to and it compared favourably with other thermal drying technologies. It was therefore shown that this is a viable technology for the dewatering of fine coal.
- Engineering