Development of continuous radar level measurement for improved furnace feed control
At Anglo American Platinum’s Polokwane Smelter, radar instruments are being used to provide continuous measurement of the concentrate feed level in the six-in-line electric furnace used for smelting of nickel-copper concentrates containing platinum group metals (PGMs). The radar instruments are installed directly on the furnace roof, and a mechanical system has been designed to protect them from radiation and elevated freeboard temperatures and pressures. Signal validation criteria have been implemented to ensure that proper level measurements are being used by the PLC system. The feedback from the radars has provided an improved understanding of the furnace behaviour with respect to concentrate feed level control, individual feeding events, global feed rates, feed distribution and bath disturbances. In combination with a dynamic mass balance for continuous calculation of liquid level in the furnace, the radar measurements have enabled more precise feedback control of the concentrate blacktop depth. In turn this has yielded improvements in furnace stability.