The role of a pilot scale facility in performing R&D and helping Canadian coal and mineral industries

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 85, No. 961, 1992

M.W. MikhaU, A.I.A. Salama and O.E. Humeniuk, Western Research Centre, CANMET -EMR, Devon, Alberta

The Western Research Centre (WRC) of CANMET operate a unique pilot plant facility where ongoing R&D on coal preparation and mineral processing is conducted. The pilot plant carries out two functions: coal preparation processing using state-of-the-art technology and coal-liquid mixture preparation with intensive cleaning circuits that can also be used for mineral processing. In total, the pilot plant includes more than 30 different flowsheet options. The facility is dedicated to small and fine coal, and designed to be flexible and versatile. This paper describes the use of a pilot-scale facility as a research tool for process control development, fine coal beneficiation, development of coal-liquid fuels technologies, development of process models and testing and evaluation of new developments. The pilot plant is used to assist in resource development by evaluating and optimizing flowsheet selection, and producing sufficient samples for utilization tests. The facility is also an important tool for evaluating and testing samples from troublesome circuits of operating plants to find means to optimize and improve recovery, particularly of fines circuits. Detailed examples are given to demonstrate the role of a pilot-scale facility in coal preparation R&D, coal industry development and optimization of coal processing operations. These examples include the development of heavy-medium cyclone computer control system, detailed evaluation of beneficiation of a coal deposit with high clay content, development of column flotation, and its role in fine cleaning circuits and treatment of ultra-fines in relation to intensive cleaning, the importance of testing coals in different processes, and cleaning processes influence on coking quality and other utilization applications. The potential of the facility for helping the mineral industry is also described.
Keywords: Coal mining, Research and development, Pilot-scale facility, Coal preparation.