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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Pyrometry studies of the combustion of lead concentrate particles under controlled conditions Tuffrey, Nigel Edwin


An investigation of the combustion of lead sulphide .concentrates under controlled conditions has been carried out. A fast response, two-wavelength radiation pyrometer and a "laminar flow" furnace were constructed to facilitate the measurement of the temperature of individual particles during combustion. Chemical analysis and electron microscopy studies of the reaction products were also performed. The combustion of galena, pyrite, pyrrhotite, sphalerite and two commercial concentrates (Brunswick and Sullivan) at 1130K was investigated. The effects of particle size between 63-125μm and gaseous oxygen concentration between 10 and 100% were examined. For combustion in both air and oxygen a number of different combustion pulses were identified which corresponded to the combustion of different mineral species or to different physical phenomena. An analogous series of pulse classifications was identified for combustion in oxygen however they reflected the greater intensity and temperature of the reactions. The form of combustion was strongly dependent on oxygen concentration. From the results it was not possible to identify the effect of particle size on combustion behaviour. The vaporisation of lead sulphide appears important to the mechanism of galena combustion. In air the temperature of combustion appears limited to 1500-1700K (of boiling point PbS of 1609K); whereas in oxygen, massive vaporisation results in a heating arrest at 1700-2000K and disintegration into droplets which combust at 2000-2400K. Transition from air-type to oxygen-type combustion occurs at oxygen concentrations between 40 and 65% and is thought to be due to the transition from a liquid to gaseous phase PbO reaction product. The initial stage of pyrite reaction is thermal decomposition to porous pyrrhotite. The ignition of this porous pyrrhotite was more rapid than dense pyrrhotite, but once molten, the combustion of the two was indistinguishable and the peak temperature observed was very reproducible. In air the peak combustion temperatures of 2400-2600K appeared to coincide with a sudden expansion of the particle, possibly due to the inflation of thin-walled iron oxide cenospheres. In oxygen the reactions are more intense and disintegration typically occurs on reaching a peak temperature of 3000-3400K, Between ~10 and 35% oxygen the maximum combustion temperature increased linearly, but at higher concentrations remained constant at 3000-3400K. The results suggest the maximum temperature reached is limited by the occurrence of a physical phenomenum possibly associated with the vaporisation of iron. Sphalerite did not ignite at the temperatures considered, but shells of zinc oxide were observed in the reaction products. For the commercial concentrates pulses of intermediate combustion characteristics and a wide range of combustion temperatures (typically intermediate to those of PbS and FeS) were observed, as well as many pulses similar to those of the constituent minerals. The former were considered to be due to the combustion of agglomerations of many smaller individual particles. The effect of the mineral composition was evident in the combustion results, with increased quantities of iron sulphide tending to result in more intense reactions. The results suggest that metallic lead formation occurs during the initial stages of reaction, probably after melting as the result of reaction between the surface oxides/sulphates and unreacted PbS. A simple reaction model for iron sulphide combustion suggests that the reaction of the molten drop is controlled by gas-phase oxygen mass transfer with the measured heating rates consistent with the formation of wustite and sulphur dioxide.

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