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CRUNDWELL, F.K. du Preez, N.Lloyd, J.M. Dynamics of particle-size distributions in continuous leaching reactors and autoclaves, Hydrometallurgy, 133 (2013) 44-50.

Leaching plays a central role in hydrometallurgical processing. However, frequently it is the leaching step that is the least efficient part of the hydrometallurgical process. Part of any drive to improve the efficiency of the operation therefore requires an understanding of the behaviour of leaching reactors. Surprisingly little work has been done on studying the effect of the particle-size distribution on the performance of leaching reactors. The objective of this work is to examine the impact of the mean and standard deviation of several different functional forms of the particle-size distribution on the performance of the reactor. Previous work showed that the Leaching Number, defined as (linear rate of shrinkage)×(residence time)/(mean particle size), is a key parameter in the performance of leaching reactors. The results of these calculations demon- strate the following: (i) the number distribution of the particles leaving the reactor reflects the interaction between particle-size distribution in the feed and the residence-time distribution, which is correctly de- scribed by the population balance; (ii) the mean size of the particles leaving the reactor can either increase or decrease, depending on the covariance of the particle-size distribution of the feed; (iii) changing the co- variance over a wide range, from 0.1 to 1.8, increases the conversion by about 10%; and (iv) the Leaching Number is the primary variable in determining the performance of leaching reactors. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.