The non-ferrous industry continues to change in many ways. Both existing operations and new projects realize they must recognize and address the issues, or doom themselves to decline and ultimate failure. Overall, market conditions still exhibit cyclical phases, but new, emerging influences, most notably China, have changed the landscape for the entire industry.
Environmental regulations continue to evolve and impose new restrictions on pyrometallurgical operations. Limits are tightening on sulfur dioxide and particulate emissions. Disposing of slag and reducing carbon footprints have become important aspects of the business.
In copper smelting, concentrates are becoming "dirtier," needing a wider range of more innovative solutions to remove impurities and maintain product quality. In ferronickel production, ores are posing difficulties for furnace design, sending engineers back to the drawing board to consider new cooling technologies and refractory selection methods.
Against the backdrop of these challenges, the same drivers continue to operate as they have for the past century: reduce operating costs and improve process efficiency and productivity.
At every stage of a project, we work to understand your objectives and develop the best, most effective processes. Starting from the fundamentals of process chemistry, thermodynamics, and material characteristics, we establish a design basis and process criteria. Process models and flow sheets follow, and the most appropriate, correctly sized equipment is selected.
Test work planning, support, and scale-up to commercial design criteria
We work with you to design test work programs, finding vendors or independent pilot facilities that can do the work and participate in supervising it. We also analyze and scale-up the test work results to establish commercial design parameters.
Pilot plant design and operation
Beyond third-party test work, you may require your own pilot or demonstration-scale plant. We work with you to help determine the optimal size of these facilities. Then we design them with the same rigor we would apply to a full-scale commercial plant, adding in the flexibility to explore wider ranges of process parameters.
Process optimization and debottlenecking
With extensive experience in debottlenecking and brownfield studies, we've developed proven methodologies based on comprehensive analysis of plant data, process modeling and industry benchmarking. These studies are conducted with an open mind to potential solutions, and independent of the interests or influences of any specific equipment or vendors.
Custom equipment design
Where vendor capabilities are limited, custom pyro-processing equipment may be the answer. Our experience ranges from custom designs for flash, bath and electric smelting furnaces, to fluidized bed reactors, gas-handling systems and material-handling systems.
Smelter logistics modeling
Operations can be bottlenecked by interactions and movements between processing units in areas such as Peirce-Smith converter aisles, calcine transfer systems and slag disposal. Dedicated software programs like ARENA can help identify bottlenecks and determine whether additional equipment will offer benefits. This approach can evaluate trade-offs, like the pros and cons of an additional converter vs. a new crane.