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Reprint of article published

in World Cement, September 2005.

By David S. Fortsch, FLSmidth Inc., USA.
Modern slag grinding
RE VI E W NO. 158
Reprinted from WORLD CEMENT September 2005
Slag cements ranging from 5% to 80% of slag
in the final product have been produced for
decades in several countries. In recent years,
the production of cement with some quantity
of slag content has been increasing in the
United States and Canada. There are many rea-
sons for this shift in operation, one of which is
that utilisation of slag in cement production
results in lower overall production costs. Slag
cement mixtures use between 21.1 and 48.4%
less fuel and electrical energy to produce a t of
cement, depending on the substitution rate of
slag to clinker. Additionally, there are two envi-
ronmentally friendly benefits. Firstly there are a
reported 29.2 to 46.1% savings in carbon diox-
ide emissions; and secondly there are virgin
material savings between 4.3 and 14.6% when
compared to cements made entirely from ordi-
nary Portland cement (OPC) clinker and gyp-
sum. In addition, the ability to have a partial
substitution of clinker with slag also results in
increased product sales without a large capital
investment in terms of additional clinker pro-
Production of
Blastfurnace slag is pro-
duced concurrently with
molten iron. Raw iron ore
together with a combus-
tion material (normally
coal or coke) and lime is
fed into the top of the fur-
nace (Figure 1). This mater-
ial remains at the top of
the furnace until sufficient-
ly heated, and is known as
the burden. As the bur-
den temperature is
increased due to the fuel
combustion process and
the inherent furnace tem-
peratures, the burden
begins to change state
from a solid form to a liq-
uid one. Towards the base
of the furnace the temper-
ature reaches 1500 C and
the burden becomes com-
pletely liquid. The heavier
iron sinks to the bottom
while the slag floats to the
top of the liquid bed. At
regular intervals the blast
furnace operator taps both
the iron and slag off. This
paper will discuss ground
granulated blastfurnace slag (GGBS) and as
such it is appropriate to suggest that the slag
portion of the blast furnace is directed to a
Granulation is the controlled quenching of the
slag with water, thus not giving time for crys-
talline growth to take place. Large volumes of
water are required, 10 parts water to 1 part
slag are typically experienced. The result is a
glassy granular product, similar in appearance
to coarse beach sand.
Granulated slag is light in colour, is typically
6 mm and below in size, and has a relatively
high moisture content. As a result of the gran-
ulation process the slag product retains much
of the water used. The amount of water
retained varies, but generally pelletised slag
can hold up to 15% and granulated slags typi-
cally maintain up to 10% water. The material is
typically allowed to self-drain by storing mater-
ial in piles.
This storing process must be carefully man-
aged since granulate will hydrate and, if left
too long in piles, will form large lumps which
David S. Fortsch, FLSmidth Inc., USA presents a
comprehensive review of the various technologies and
design considerations for grinding slag.
Figure 1. Blastfurnace slag schematic.
Figures 2 and 3. Typical close-ups of granulated slag.


are hard to break up and handle.
On the other hand sufficient time should be pro-
vided in order to allow excess moisture to naturally
drain minimising drying energy requirements. Unlike
typical OPC production, the requirement to evaporate
water from raw slag is a factor that must be consid-
ered when determining the grinding equipment cho-
sen for a particular plant.
In addition to the increased drying requirement
when utilising slag in cement production, there is also
the increased specific grinding power consumption
associated with slag addition. GGBS has many
hydraulic characteristics similar to cement which
makes its use favourable. Not all slags are alike with
both the chemistry and structure of each slag varying
widely depending on where it is produced and how it
is quenched. In order to maintain the same strength
properties as OPC, slag typically has to be ground
much finer than OPC clinker. Based upon the market,
it is typical to find slag ground to 3500 Blaine in one
area, and 6000 Blaine in another.
As GGBS is dominated by a dense glassy structure
with few large pores, it is generally more difficult to
grind than OPC clinker. Figure 7 shows a comparison of
the grindability of various clinker and slag samples
analysed over several years of testing. In all, the data set
represents over 1000 material samples. Typically, slag
materials are harder to grind than clinker materials. As
Figure 7 indicates, however, there could be cases where
a slag material is easier to grind than any given clinker
Based on the 50 percentile figure of samples
analysed, the grindability of slag is in the order of
11% harder to grind than clinker at typical Type I fine-
nesses. As the fineness target increases, the expected
power consumption increases exponentially in a ball
GGBS is a cementitious material such that when
mixed with water it reacts to form similar hydration
products to those produced by Portland cement. This
hydration process, however, is very slow in comparison
to when using cement made from ordinary Portland
clinker. Concrete containing GGBS as the sole cemen-
titious component would achieve a very low compres-
sive strength at 28 days. This is disadvantageous in
normal practice. The GGBS hydration reaction requires
an acceleration to meet market demands. There are
two ways to address this requirement. First, the slag
can be ground to a higher fineness. Secondly, by
adding OPC to the mix, the early strength develop-
ment requirements can be met. The more Portland
cement is used, the faster the gain of early strengths.
Chemical accelerators can be added to increase this
hydraulic reaction.
There are two drawbacks experienced by slag
grinding installations:
Increased specific power consumption in the finish
milling process.
Increased handling and maintenance requirements
within the slag grinding process.
Since slag must be ground much finer than clinker
in order to maintain the final product properties,
there is a power cost disadvantage.
With regard to specific power consumption, in a
closed circuit ball mill application, for example, slag
typically requires 65 - 69 kWh/t at the mill shaft when
grinding slag of average hardness to 5500 cm
(Blaine) as compared to an average hardness clinker
utilising only 36 kWh/t ground to a cement fineness of
3800 Blaine (Figure 8). Although this implies that slag
grinding systems are more energy reliant, this state-
ment does not conflict with the introduction of this
paper which said that overall plant power savings are
Reprinted from WORLD CEMENT September 2005
Figures 4 and 5. Typical close-up view of granulated slag. Using stockpiled granulated slag allows for excessive water drainage. Note that
during reclaiming granulated slag, stockpiles may exhibit a very steep angle of repose and caution must be taken during extraction.
Figure 6. Hydrated slag from stockpile improperly managed.
realised when utilising slag in the final
cement. Since slag is used, in this case,
only in the finish grinding area, there is no
requirement for raw or pyroprocessing
equipment in handling the slag. The slag,
being created as a waste stream in the
iron purification process, has already been
sintered at high temperatures to its
cementitious state.
Due to its siliceous characteristics raw
slag causes severe wear in many of the raw
handling areas. As to typical wear charac-
teristics, it is not unlikely to find that the
grinding media life in a slag grinding mill
is only 50 to 60% of the wear life of media
grinding OPC clinker. Typical wear rates of
grinding media with a high chrome con-
tent (>10% depending on media size) are
typically in the range of 1 to 1.5 g/kWh
which equates to 65 - 105 g/t for slag
grinding. Improvements in system design
and materials of construction are address-
ing these wear issues.
In addition, it is not unlikely to have
material handling challenges when pro-
cessing the slag material. In a raw stock-
pile, slag material will exhibit an angle of
repose between 35 and 40. Due to the
substructure of slag, though, many plants
may suffer from raw slag build up prob-
lems at 90. One such case is in extracting
the slag from the raw stockpile (Figures 4
and 5). This can wreak havoc on most typ-
ical handling equipment such as bins, ele-
vators, chutes, rotary valves, etc. It is
paramount to carefully design the han-
dling system to address these issues.
This raises the question of how the slag
should be ground. Is it better to grind slag
in a separate circuit or combined with the
cement clinker? Are there other technolo-
gies available for grinding slag that may
be more cost effective?
Grinding system
When slag first began being used for
cement applications, the combined grind-
ing of slag and clinker was accomplished
solely in ball mill circuits. As a result, the
original design of each grinding plant did
not consider the production of slag
cement products, and therefore these
plants used existing ball mill circuits with-
out considering some of the raw slag
material characteristics. The main issues
that must be addressed are:
How to dry the slag before feeding it
to the ball mill circuit.
Whether to grind the slag with the
clinker or to grind it separately and
then mix it with the Portland cement.
As raw slag contains a significant
Reprinted from WORLD CEMENT September 2005
Figure 8. Increase in specific power consumption (kWh/t) for slag due to fineness
Figure 9. Typical flash dryer system for pre-drying of granulated slag.
Figure 7. Grindability of clinker and slag samples. Slag is typically harder to grind than
OPC clinker.
Reprinted from WORLD CEMENT September 2005
amount of moisture (typically 6-15%), the feed quan-
tity of slag that may be put into the standard two
compartment ball mill is limited by the drying capabil-
ity of the first compartment. Moisture that has not
evaporated in the first compartment causes clogging
of grates at the intermediate diaphragm as well as
flowability problems through the grinding media. In
most instances, slag must be pre-dried in a separate
process upstream of the ball mill. For a mill that grinds
slag to 5500 Blaine, the maximum practical level of
feed moisture of a two compartment mill is only 2 -
4% of H
O if the mill is not equipped with a drying
chamber. If the slag is fed with hot clinker to the mill,
then it may be possible to have a substitution rate of
5 - 15% slag, depending on the moisture level, before
drying becomes a limitation. One-compartment mills
can typically handle higher percentages of raw feed
moisture based on the premise that the grinding
process will provide sufficient heat for drying the feed
material. The raw feed moisture limitation in one-
compartment mills then becomes a matter of satisfy-
ing the appropriate heat balance around the mill.
One method of predrying slag prior to feeding a
ball mill is to process the wet slag in a flash dryer. A
flash dryer is essentially a vertical duct that uses hot
gas passed upwards to lift the feed material to either
a collecting cyclone or bag filter. Due to the excellent
inter-mixing of gases and material, the drying action
is very efficient, often taking less than 1 second to dry
feed material to less than 2% of H
O. The dried mate-
rial can then be passed directly on to the ball mill for
the grinding process and any residual drying. In the
case of very high moisture slags, a portion of the col-
lected stream can be redirected back to the flash dryer
for additional drying, as shown in Figure 9.
Vertical roller mills are becoming more and more
the standard for new slag grinding circuits. These sys-
tems offer some advantages over the traditional ball
milling system, in particular a much lower specific
power consumption, as well as a greater ability to dry
a wet slag within the grinding circuit. The justification
for using these systems must not only reflect the lower
power consumption, but also consider the cost of the
installation, the level of sophistication, and the cost of
Combined or separate grinding
In combined grinding, there are concerns when the slag
grindability is much harder than the cement clinker. As
slag may require up to 40% more grinding power than
clinker, there will be a tendency to over grind some of
the clinker, i.e. waste grinding power on the cement
clinker portion. Although this phenomenon is some-
what reduced in closed circuit grinding systems, the
Figure 11. Galvanised buckets with hard
faced edges.
Figure 13. Dividing gate with abra-
sion resistant liners.
Figure 12. Storage bin with
stainless steel or similar lining
and steep angle.
Figure 10. Belt wall conveyor
eliminates risk of build-ups as an
alternative to a bucket elevator.
slag component will still be concentrated
in the circulating load, and hence will have
a steeper particle size distribution than the
clinker component. This must also be con-
sidered when making the evaluation of
how to produce slag cements in an exist-
ing facility. This can cause adverse affects
on the cement properties (water require-
ment and setting time) due to the differ-
ent particle size distributions of the slag
and cement.
The benefits of combined grinding
Good homogenisation.
Reduced tendency of agglomeration.
Reduced tendency of coating effects
in the ball mill.
Ability to use the heat from clinker for drying slag.
Separately grinding the slag and cement clinker is
more economical in terms of electrical energy con-
sumption. By separately grinding the slag and cement
clinker, the fineness of each product can be optimised
so that the amount of power wasted on over-grinding
the cement clinker can be minimised.
When slag and clinker are ground separately to
different product finenesses and then blended, the
results show that combined slag cement exhibits the
highest strengths. This allows for the reduction of the
combined cement mixture product fineness and there-
fore the overall power consumption is reduced for a
given target strength.
A slightly greater amount of heat will need to be
supplied for separate grinding of the slag as the heat
from the clinker will not be present.
The specifics of the plant are also important, it
may require an additional storage silo and a good
weighing and mixing system to ensure that the final
blended cement is properly proportioned and mixed.
The next section of the article will evaluate the wear
and handling consideration for processing 100% slag
Closed circuit ball mills
Although vertical mill grinding systems are quickly
gaining acceptance in the cement industry, the major-
ity of the slag grinding in cement plants today is per-
formed in a ball mill in a closed circuit with a high
efficiency separator. In applications where the amount
of slag in the final cement product is less than ~10%,
the preferred method of grinding the slag is concur-
rently with the clinker. Although there is a cost associ-
ated with co-grinding as mentioned above, the
alternative is more costly from a capital investment
stand point. Obtaining a storage bin, mixing equip-
ment and additional handling equipment becomes
prohibitive. There is still an inherent loss in efficiency
in the mill set up when considering a mill that must
grind clinker and slag together to obtain a consistent
product. The ball charge, the compartment lengths,
etc., are not designed specifically for slag grinding and
as such power consumption and product quality may
be less than optimum.
In cases where storage and mixing equipment are
not an issue, facilities will tend to grind slag and clinker
separately by alternating days when the mill will grind
clinker and gypsum or slag alone. In this fashion, the
main grinding equipment remains the same, yet the
product quality can be optimised for current market
conditions. Workability, water demand and strength
development can be managed more precisely in this
operation by controlling the product fineness of the
clinker/gypsum product and slag product.
In cases where plants are grinding only slag, the
mill can be properly optimised for compartment sizes
(in the case of two compartment mills), the grinding
media gradation, and liner configuration. By properly
designing the mill for slag grinding only, the specific
power consumption can be minimised. Typically
power savings at the mill shaft for the case of a mill
set up for slag grinding as compared to clinker grind-
ing can result in savings of up to 15% in the mill alone.
In systems designed solely for slag grinding consid-
eration of drying methods must be made. As
described above the more modern day systems include
the use of a flash dryer to accomplish this task. Several
design features of flash dryers should be considered
prior to installation in order to make the flash dryer a
positive addition to the slag grinding process.
Flash dryer system
The drying requirement of a flash dryer is directly
proportional to the heat balance of the mill system,
the feed moisture and the flowability of the feed
material to the mill inlet. Wetter material fed to the
mill will not flow into the mill and as such there
will be a production penalty associated with this.
Handling and processing of raw slag has driven
designers to produce more robust designs in every
area that raw slag touches.
From reclaiming raw slag from stockpiles to trans-
porting this slag to the entry point of either the flash
dryer or ball mill, special consideration must be given
to the design of the conveying equipment. The latest
designs incorporate some of the following guidelines.
Conveying raw slag vertically to the raw slag bin
can be a high source of wear and build up. Bucket ele-
vator design should include hardfacing of bucket
edges to reduce the wear point of slag impact on
them. Galvanised coating or rubber lining should be
considered for reducing build up issues in buckets
(Figure 11). Where possible, heat and proper venting
Reprinted from WORLD CEMENT September 2005
Figures 14 and 15. Steep angle chutes and rubber lining reduce risk of blockages in
these areas. Also note easy access to various potential blocking areas.
Reprinted from WORLD CEMENT September 2005
should be applied to bucket elevator technology to
assist in removal of moisture in air drying and dew
point issues. An alternate conveying system would be
either tube conveyors or belt wall conveyors (Figure
10) to reduce build ups.
The slag storage bin (Figure 12) cone should be
designed with a steep angle (+70) to reduce the ten-
dency of build-ups. The cone section of the storage
bin should be constructed out of stainless steel to
reduce build-up issues while the cylindrical section
may be constructed out of carbon steel. Slag will still
tend to build up in storage bins if left stagnant for
longer periods. A common practice is to operate the
system with a constantly changing storage height to
promote a scrubbing effect along the walls. The bin
extraction area should be of a mass flow design to
promote complete bin extraction, reducing rat hol-
ing effect.
The extraction weighfeeder should be designed
for operation in both forward and reverse directions,
so that if the milling system is to remain dormant for
extended periods, the storage bin can be emptied.
A dividing gate positioned after the weighfeeder
device (Figure 13) allows a portion of the feed stream
to be diverted to the flash dryer while the remaining
portion can be directed to the ball mill as raw feed. In
doing so there are operating savings to be found in
the flash dryer energy consumption since the process
fan will not have to lift this additional quantity of
material through the flash dryer.
Transfer chute angles must be designed to incor-
porate walls that are as close to vertical as possible.
Further, the use of rubber belting additionally reduces
the risk of build up issues along the walls (Figures 14
and 15).
Access to critical points of wear and/or build up
should also be incorporated in the design of the han-
dling of raw slag prior to the milling equipment. This
includes quick access doors, poke holes, etc.
When it comes to the flash dryer itself there are
Figure 20. Topside of nozzle with
natural dead layer of material for
wear protection.
Figure 19. Transition zone protected
with high temperature impact and
high abrasion resistant lining.
Figures 16 and 17. Raw feed chute
with hot gas box to reduce sticking
Figure 18. Feed chute after rotary valve
lined with abrasion resistant plate. Also
note hot box opening at bottom.
Figure 21. Bottom side of nozzle.
Notice adjustment of orifice size
through concentric rings.
Reprinted from WORLD CEMENT September 2005
some special considerations
that must be realised and
designed for accordingly. The
flash dryer unit has the
potential to be a mainte-
nance disaster if not properly
designed. Special considera-
tions for gas temperatures,
gas velocities, material flowa-
bility, and wear resistance
must be accounted for in the
design of the flash dryer.
The rotary valve should be
designed with scalloped
pockets and the loading of
the pockets should be designed less than maximum
filling. The rotor should be made of stainless steel to
reduce build up potential. In addition, heat should be
provided to the valve either through the end seal
plates or from the back side of the valve. Sufficient
heat will serve to reduce build up issues. An inade-
quate heat source will accentuate blockages instead
of relieving them. The required heat will be deter-
mined by the feed material characteristics. A rubber
lined valve is not recommended in this case due to the
potential for high temperature exposure from the hot
gas source during an upset condition and failure of
the rubber lining.
The discharge chute following the rotary valve
should incorporate a hot gas box design to again
reduce the potential for build up in this area (Figures
16 - 18). As above, insufficient heat will exacerbate the
build-up potential instead of relieving it.
The nozzle (Figures 20 and 21) located between
the hot gas chamber and the feed point should be
designed sufficiently such that fall-through of prop-
erly sized material does not occur. Too high a veloc-
ity through the nozzle will result in excessive wear
in the area directly above the nozzle and below the
feed point. The nozzle design should incorporate a
material bed protection on the flash dryer side. This
layer of material will protect the nozzle from such
In the transition zone between the nozzle and the
flash dryer conveying zone there is a potential for
excessive wear due to the changing direction of the
feed and recirculation of this material directly above
the nozzle. This area should be constructed of a mate-
rial that can handle high temperatures, high impact
wear, and high abrasion (Figure 19). This area must
incorporate all three of these factors or it will be high-
ly susceptible to wear.
In the flash dryer ducting, ceramic tile is proving to
be the most reliable of materials. Ceramic tile can han-
dle minor impact conditions and has excellent abra-
sion wearing characteristics. This fact should not be
too surprising as ceramic tile lining has proven very
successful in vertical mill applications, as well as high
efficiency separator applications.
In the transition elbow from the flash dryer to the
collection device, whether it be a cyclone or bag filter,
a silicon carbide (Figure 22) block has been proven to
withstand the high impact of raw slag. The block is
placed in a channel at the upper/outer side of the
elbow for easier replacement after wearing.
If a cyclone is used for capturing the majority of
the dried raw slag, then a ceramic tile lining should be
used for the inlet scroll area at a minimum (Figure 23).
If a dust filter is used for most of the cleaning, the
inlet area should be designed for high wear and the
design of the dust collector should allow for a drop
out zone to reduce wear on internal collecting com-
Provided the above design features are incorpo-
rated in to the design of the raw slag handling, a
Figure 24. Typical flash dryer within high efficiency separator layout arrangement.
Figure 22. Silicon carbide block for elbow
impact protection. Note ease of replacement
through side.
Figure 23. Tile lining for
cyclone inlet scroll.
smooth and reliable pre-processing system of raw
slag is ensured.
There are designed systems available that allow for
the flash dryer to be an integral part of the finish mill
system, such that the flash dryer forms the lower por-
tion of a high efficiency separator system.
The wet slag is fed directly to the lower portion of
the separator inlet ducting (Figure 24). Hot air is intro-
duced from below, and the wet feed material is flash
dried and is carried up to the separator. Coarse returns
from the separator then enter the mill compartment
together with any large raw slag chunks that were not
lifted in the flash dryer. This greatly increases the dry-
ing capacity of the mill circuit and eliminates the need
for a separate pre-drying station. The mill discharge
material is conveyed to the top of the riser section,
where it is lifted to the separator.
Ball mills with Hydraulic Roller
Press (HRP)
In order to improve throughput in a given ball mill sys-
tem, a common practice is to add a hydraulic roller
press (HRP) to the ball mill circuit. It is further well
known that high-pressure roller presses are much
more efficient in the comminution process than ball
mills. For every 1 kWh/t that the HRP contributes to
the grinding process in OPC manufacturing, the equiv-
alent ball mill power is typically 1.8 kWh/t or higher.
Maximising the work done by the HRP results in a
more efficient overall grinding process. In order to
increase the amount of work done by an HRP, it is nec-
essary to recycle a portion of the pressed material
back to the press for further grinding.
Slag is a good material for grinding in a roller press.
The high amount of moisture present and the fact that
slag forms a very stable grinding bed allows a much
higher circulation of material back to the press with-
out the associated operational instability, as compared
to clinker grinding. Also, the resultant power savings
are improved in grinding slag in roller presses as com-
pared to ball mill circuits. As previously indicated,
crushing clinker in a ball mill has almost doubled the
amount of specific power consumption as a hydraulic
roller press. This factor is increased with slag crushing
to higher finenesses, i.e. greater than 4000 Blaine. In
most applications, the roll press is used as a pregrinder,
with only a mechanical splitter to divide the crushed
slag exiting the roll press and recirculate it back to the
press for further processing. Figure 25 shows a typical
roller press in a pregrinding arrangement.
As shown in Figure 26, the ball mill can actually be
eliminated. This is described as finish grinding in the
roll press. This results in very large savings in the spe-
cific energy consumption of the grinding system. One
of the drawbacks to this type of system is the fact that
the slag produced will have a very steep particle size
distribution, which may not be optimum in terms of
Reprinted from WORLD CEMENT September 2005
Figure 25. HRP in a pregrinding arrangement.
Figure 26. HRP in finish grinding arrangement.
Figure 27. A typical vertical roller mill system for grinding slag.
the effects of the setting time and the water require-
ments. A second drawback is that for markets that
require higher fineness products, i.e. greater than
3600 Blaine, stability in these machines becomes an
issue. Due to the fineness of the material passing
through the roller press the material becomes quite
aerated and then compaction of this material
becomes difficult resulting in instability of the roller
The cost of installation of an HRP, along with the
associated transport systems, can be quite high. The
significant savings in power consumption, however, as
well as the increase in the output of the system can
offer an attractive return.
The maintenance of a roll press is much more criti-
cal than that required by a ball mill. Wear to the
grinding rollers means that they must must be
repaired or replaced. Typically, the surface of the rolls
is hardfaced with a chromium carbide overlay that
increases their life significantly. Usual wear rates in
roll presses are around 16 - 20 g/t on new rolls and 8 -
10 g/t on hardfaced rolls. It should be noted that this
maintenance is more expensive and requires a higher
degree of sophistication and labour than a ball mill
Vertical roller mills
Vertical roller mills have been employed for slag
grinding for many years. Starting in the mid 1980s,
the Japanese machinery manufacturers began to mar-
ket the vertical roller mill for cement and slag grind-
ing. Today, VRMs for cement and slag grinding are
accepted by the industry as both proven machinery
and process technology. The vertical roller mill is an
ideal machine as it addresses all the issues related to
slag in a single integrated unit.
The grinding economy of the vertical roller mill is
far better than a ball mill. Typically, the grinding
power is 40 - 50% less for a vertical roller mill than the
ball mill, depending on the required Blaine for the
slag. Although the associated fan power for a vertical
mill is higher than the ball mill, the overall system spe-
cific power consumption is far lower.
Not only are VRMs very energy efficient, but also
they are very versatile in terms of being able to han-
dle wet raw materials as slag, and additives such as fly-
ash, limestone, and pozzolana. The VRM can utilise
much higher quantities of
waste gases for drying than a
ball mill. The substitution of
additives, therefore, is not lim-
ited by the system drying
capacity. In this way the entire
plant specific power and fuel
consumption, per t of saleable
product, can be reduced, and
the production expanded.
Many of these systems are
now operating worldwide.
Slag and slag cements are also
produced with Blaines up to
6000 cm
/g. As the grinding,
transport, and separation
processes in the vertical roller
mill are all closely coupled, the internal circulation of
material from the grinding bed to the separator is
quite high. This can lead to a rather steep product par-
ticle size distribution, which can result in a high water
demand. For this reason, it is imperative that there is
control of the grinding process so that the final
cement product has the correct quality to satisfy the
market demands.
This is easily addressed in the operation of the ver-
tical mill. Adjustments in grinding pressure and air-
flow will influence the product particle size
distribution, as will making physical changes to the
dam ring. The correction of the particle size distribu-
tion (PSD), however, comes at a price. The specific
power consumption will be increased as the PSD is
made wider. Table 1 is a summary of these changes
and their effects on different process parameters.
As wet raw slag is a very abrasive material, the cost
of maintaining a vertical mills rollers and table liners
in comparison to the maintenance costs of a ball mill
system becomes a design consideration. Whereas
replacement of worn media in a ball mill is not an
overly labour intensive task, replacement of rollers
and table liners in a vertical roller is more time con-
suming. Two design features have aided in improving
the wear life of rollers and table liners and further
strides are being made. The first design feature com-
monly used is making tyres and liners out of material
that can have a hardface overlay applied to the sur-
face much like the concept for hydraulic roll press
Reprinted from WORLD CEMENT September 2005
Figure 28. Iron removal discharge chute on vertical mill for slag
Table 1. Influence of grinding conditions on product quality
Cement quality at same Blaine
Operation PSD Residue % > 30 m W/C ratio
Dam ring height Wide
Grinding pressure Wide
Air flow rate Narrow
Table 2. Effects of discharge chute on wear rates of rollers and table liners
Before installation After installation of
of discharge chute discharge chute
Concentration of iron Feed 0.40 0.41
particles (average) % On table 28.7 4.2
Wear rate in g/t Rollers 5.9 2.99
Table 18.9 5.87
Reprinted from WORLD CEMENT September 2005
rolls. Experience has shown that the hardfacing
process has actually increased the wear life by two to
three times that of the original material. Where the
original material, without hardfacing has typical wear
rates of 10 - 12 g/t, the hard faced materials experi-
ence a wear rate of 4 - 6 g/t.
It has been observed that wear in the vertical roller
mill is a function of the iron in the feed and iron con-
centration on the table material. In order to reduce the
wear experienced in the roller mill, a system by which a
slip stream of table material is removed from the
process is typically installed for present day slag process-
ing plants. The slip stream of table material is drawn
directly to the outside of the mill by a discharge chute.
This material is exposed to a magnetic separator on the
reject belt where the magnetic iron is removed from the
process. In doing so, the wear life experienced on the
tyres has been increased by up to two times for a typical
system without the discharge chute. Figure 28 shows
how material from the table is directly discharged out of
the mill.
Table 2 shows the effects of the discharge chute on
the wear rate of the table and rollers as well as the
residual concentration of iron particles on the mill
Slag cements will continue to gain popularity with
cement manufacturers as a way to increase plant
capacity, reduce overall plant emissions as well as to
grow economically. Going forward, it is important to
realise the challenges of handling raw slag and then
to properly address these areas.
Whether grinding slag in a ball mill, a roller press
or a vertical mill it is important to understand the
benefits and drawbacks of each grinding system and
choose which technological approach best fits each
plants operating philosophy. Ball mills require rela-
tively low maintenance. High specific power con-
sumption and high wear rates, however, are
economically and environmentally unattractive when
compared to vertical mill technology. Vertical mill
technology is gaining acceptance as a means to lower
operating costs and increase versatility, although
higher sophistication is required in the plant mainte-
nance department.______________________________
Cycle Inventory of Slag Cement Concrete, Eighth
CANMET/ACI International Conference on Flyash, Silica Fume,
Slag and Natural Pozzolans in Concrete, May 23 - 29, 2004.
2. J.I. BHATTY, F.M. MILLER, and S.H. KOSMATKA, Innovations
in Portland Cement Manufacturing, 2004.
3. S. RENFREW, Utilisation of Steel Slag In A California Cement
Plant, IEEE - IAS/PCA Cement Industry Technical Conference,
4. G.R. ROY and N. SRIDHARAN, Energy Efficient Grinding
Technologies in the Cement Plant, National Seminar on
Energy Efficient Technologies, Hyderabad, India, 3 March
5. B. OSBAECK, Blended Cement, International Cement
Production Seminar, Copenhagen, Denmark.
6. G.R. ROY, Slag Cement Grinding Options and Experiences,
International Exhibition and Seminar on Energy and
Environment in Cement, Constructions and Allied Sectors,
New Delhi, India 31 January 2002.
FLSmidth A/S
Vigerslev All 77
DK-2500 Valby
Tel: +45 - 36 18 10 00
Fax: +45 - 36 30 18 20
FLSmidth Inc.
2040 Avenue C
Bethlehem, PA 18017-2188
Tel: +1 - 610-264-6011
Tel: +1 - 800-523-9482
Fax: +1 - 610-264-6170
FLSmidth Ltd.
Capital Towers
180, Kodambakkam High Road
Chennai 600 034
Tel: +91 - 44-52-191234
Fax: +91 - 44-2827-9393











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