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http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2169-0022.1000149

Research Article

Research Article Open

OpenAccess

Access

Kabezya KM* and Motjotji H

Lecturer, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Abstract

An investigation was conducted to determine the effect of the ball diameter sizes on milling operation. A laboratory

size ball mill was used with ball media of sizes 10 mm, 20 mm and 30 mm respectively. Quartz was the material

used to perform the experiment and was arranged into 3 mono-sizes namely -8 mm +5.6 mm, -4 mm +2.8 mm and-2

mm +1.4 mm for the experiment. A mill run having a mixture of the 3 ball diameter sizes was also conducted. It was

determined that the 30 mm diameter balls were most effective of the three sizes during the grinding of the 3 mono-

size feed material samples. The 10 mm diameter balls were the least effective as minimum particle breakage was

observed whereas the 20 mm diameter balls were relatively effective to some extent. The selection function of the

30mm balls was also much greater as it had a higher maximum point and a very low small abnormal region. The mill

run conducted using a mixture of ball sizes however was slightly better than that of the 30 mm diameter balls. The

primary breakage function was observed as to be non-related to the ball diameter but rather to the 3 mono-sizes of the

feed material. In terms of the power draw, there seemed to be no link between it and the ball diameter size.

Keywords: Milling; Efficiency; Balls; Size; Operation; Performance; achieve a higher degree of size reduction compared to dry milling

Optimization [6]. Dry milling is however preferred over wet milling due to the

difficulty associated with the handling of a wet slurry during milling

Introduction [5]. Ball mills can be used in a variety of industries such as the minerals

Milling is the third and final stage of comminution after crushing processing, metallurgy, mining, chemicals, agriculture, plastics, and

which involves the reduction of solid particle sizes to micron size level. the food industry, among others [7]. This is due their simplicity and

The size reduction is achieved by a combination of abrasive and impact effectiveness during application [2,8]. Ball mills also tend to have a

forces between the particles and the milling media as well as the walls greater reduction ratio as well as a lower rate of reduction, thus making

of the mill [1]. Ball mills are one of the most commonly used milling them more preferable over other kinds of mills [2]. But like any of

equipment in minerals processing due to the extensive size reduction the other mills, as previously mentioned ball mills have a very low

(reduction ratio) they can achieve [2]. It is however widely determined efficiency in terms of utilizing the energy generated towards particle

that ball mills have very low efficiencies in terms of the utilization of size reduction. The diameter of the balls used in ball mills play a

the generated energy towards milling. Approximately only about 20% significant role in the improvement and optimization of the efficiency

of the energy generated by the mill is utilized for actual grinding of the of the mill [4]. The optimum rotation speed of a mill, which is the speed

ore [2]. This inefficiency is a result of various factors such mill load, at which optimum size reduction takes place, is determined in terms of

rotation speed, type of milling (wet or dry) as well as the size of the the percentage of the critical speed of the mill [8]. The critical speed is

steel balls [3]. Mills are also one of the largest energy consumers in the speed at which the mill load sticks to the walls of the mill during

processing plants which can be estimated to about 50% of the total rotation. The aim of this project was to determine the effect of the ball

energy utilized in minerals processing. This therefore indicates that it is diameter on the operating parameters of the mill, which included the

very vital that mills operate under optimum conditions [2,3]. The size energy efficiency, the power requirement, mill load, critical speed as

of the steel balls used during the milling process are related to the size of well as the size reduction of the mill charge. It was thus required that

the mill charge material whereby small diameter balls are used for feed these mentioned operating parameters be optimized by experimentally

material of small sizes while larger diameter balls are used for larger determining the most appropriate ball diameter so as to obtain the

sized feed material [4]. It is also necessary to consider the optimum desired energy.

load of a mill when considering the ball diameter. Magdalinovic also Experimental Procedure

suggests that larger diameter balls have more energy whereas balls

having smaller diameters have less energy. These different energies are A laboratory size ball mill of diameter 30 cm was used with ball

however relative to the optimum ball diameter, which differs according media of sizes 10 mm, 20 mm and 30 mm respectively as shown in

to the size of the mill as well as the desired size reduction of the feed Figure 1. Quartz was the material used to run experiments, and was

material [3,4]. arranged into 3 mono-sizes namely -8 mm +5.6 mm, -4 mm +2.8 mm

A mill is a type of rotating or tumbling cylindrical drum which

rotates around its own axis thus performing an abrasion and impacting

*Corresponding author: Kabezya KM, Wits University, Johannesburg, Gauteng,

action of the milling media and ore particles inside [2]. The rotation South Africa, Tel: 0117177522; E-mail: kitungwa.kabezya@wits.ac.za

motion is achieved by means of an electric motor which can be

ReceivedNovember 20, 2014; Accepted January 13, 2015; Published January

configured to various rotational speeds depending on the size of the 22, 2015

mill as well as the type of mill load motion required. Milling can either

Citation: Kabezya KM, Motjotji H (2015) The Effect of Ball Size Diameter on Milling

be done wet or dry whereby for wet milling, a fluid such as water is Performance. J Material Sci Eng 4: 149. doi:10.4172/2169-0022.1000149

added during the milling process. For dry milling, the charge material

contains about less than 1% moisture or water content whereas for wet Copyright: 2015 Kabezya KM, et al. This is an open-access article distributed

under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits

milling, the moisture or water content is greater than 34% by volume unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the

[5]. Wet milling requires less energy, consumes less power and can original author and source are credited.

ISSN: 2169-0022 JME, an open access journal Volume 4 Issue 1 1000149

Citation: Kabezya KM, Motjotji H (2015) The Effect of Ball Size Diameter on Milling Performance. J Material Sci Eng 4: 149. doi:10.4172/2169-

0022.1000149

Page 2 of 3

same conditions. From Figure 3, it was observed that the particle size

distribution when milling with 20 mm and the10 mm diameter balls

started spreading out thus showing a wider distribution of different

sized particles. The 30 mm ball diameter milling still performed better

than the small ball diameters, but the performance for this ball size

had decreased for the -2 mm +1.4 mm mono-size feed compared to

the bigger -4 mm +2.8 mm mono-size feed. This therefore shows that

should the material feed size continue to decrease, the smaller balls will

perform better than the larger balls during milling, as was mentioned

by Katubilwa et al.

Effect of ball diameter size on mill power draw

Figure 1: Image of the mill used for this experiment. The mill power draw for each mill run was determined from the

voltage required by the mill motor average voltage and torque.

To take a closer look at the relationship between the power draw

and -2 mm +1.4 mm for experiments. A mill run having a mixture of

and the ball diameter, Figure 4 below was plotted using data from 4 mill

the 3 ball diameter sizes was also conducted.

revolutions for which the milling duration was 4 seconds. As could be

The ball filling level was kept constant at 40% by volume for all ball seen from the Figure 4, there seemed to be no trend for the power draw

diameters as was done by Magdalinovic. The rotational speed of the with regards to the ball diameter. This might be due to the fact that the

mill was kept at 85% of the critical speed. The sample ore charge, Q, was power draw depended mostly on the mill load and the type of lifters

such that the ore sample completely filled the voids or interstitial spaces fitted into the mill [9].

between the balls, meaning that the mass of the charge varied with the

The oscillations observed on the graph were a result of an increase

ball diameters [4]. The residence time was material dependent and thus

and decrease in energy required during the tumbling of the mill and its

depended on the grindability or hardness of the sample ore.

contents. As the mill load was lifted by the lifters, energy was required

The products from the four milling processes were screened using and therefore we observe an increase in the power draw and as the

a range of different aperture screens to determine the extent of size load was dropped onto the mill toe, energy was released and the power

reduction (comminution ratio) as well as the size distribution of the

product samples after each of the four milling processes. For the

milling process, the 30 mm diameter balls were first used, the mill Cummulative % passing for 4 minutes milling

110

was loaded with 29.06 kg of the balls as calculated and then 2.7 kg of

100

a quarts sample in the size class -8 mm +5.6 mm was then loaded into 90

the mill. The mill was first run for 30 seconds and then the entire mill 80

load was removed and then a 100 gram sample was taken from the

mass % passing

70

quarts sample using the spinning rifle. The remaining sample was then 60 10mm balls

50 20mm balls

loaded into the mill along with the 30 mm balls and the mill was run

40 30mm balls

for an additional 1 minute, thus making up the second mill run interval 30 ball combination

of 1 minute 30 seconds. A 100 gram sample was once again taken for 20

this particular milling interval. Once again the remaining sample was 10

reloaded into the mill and the mill was run for 2 minutes 30 seconds 0

0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000

to make up the 4 minute mill run interval. The sampling procedure

particle siaze (micron)

was once again repeated with a 100 gram sample being taken from the

sample. This procedure was repeated for the other samples in the size Figure 2: Graph showing the cumulative mass % passing for milling the

classes -4 mm +2.8 mm and -2 mm +1.4 mm respectively. The 20 mm -4 mm +2.8 mm feed size for 4 minutes.

and 10 mm diameter balls were also used during the milling following

the above mentioned procedure. Another mill run was performed

using a combination of the three ball diameters and the same milling cummulative % passing for 4 minutes milling

and sample process was followed 110

100

80

mass % passing

60

curves appeared to have a broader distribution, indicating more 50 10mm balls

particle breakage. The 30 mm ball diameter and the ball combination 40 20mm balls

20

as highlighted in Figure 2. This therefore indicated that the large ball

10

diameters were more effective when milling this particular material size 0

class. To further support the statement made by Katubilwa et al. which 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500

stated that larger feed material size would require larger ball diameters particle size (micron)

during milling, Figure 3 below shows the cumulative 5 passing curve Figure 3: Graph showing the cumulative mass % passing for milling the

for a feed material of size -2 mm +1.4 mm when milled under the -2 mm +1.4 mm feed size for 4 minutes.

ISSN: 2169-0022 JME, an open access journal Volume 4 Issue 1 1000149

Citation: Kabezya KM, Motjotji H (2015) The Effect of Ball Size Diameter on Milling Performance. J Material Sci Eng 4: 149. doi:10.4172/2169-

0022.1000149

Page 3 of 3

for the smaller ball diameters was also larger compared to larger ball

Power draw vs milling time diameters. The abnormal region indicates a region whereby the ball

140 sizes are not big enough to cause particle breakage during milling. The

ball combination mill runs showed the best results in terms of particle

120

size distribution, selection function as well as the breakage function. In

100 terms of the power draw, there seemed to be no link between it and the

Power draw (Watts)

10mm balls

80 ball diameter size and it was already established earlier that the power

20mm balls

draw depends on the mill loading. It was however observed that the

60

30mm balls power draw for the 20 mm balls seemed to be following an increasing

40 trend even though the mill loading for when using the 20 mm balls

20

was lower. The power draw for the ball combination mill run displays

a decreasing trend and thus was the most efficiency with regards to the

0

utilization of power towards particle breakage.

0 1 2 3 4 5

time (seconds)

References

Figure 4: Graph showing the power draw for four mill revolutions over 4

1. Wills NM (2006) Grinding Mills. In TN M, Wills BA (eds) Wills Mineral Processing

seconds.

technology. Johannesburg: Elsevier science and Technology books.

draw decreased [10]. It was thus observed that the oscillations for the efficiency of ball mills. International Conference on Renewable Energies and

3 ball diameters remain between 80 and 120 watts. An interesting Power Quality.

observation however was that the power draw for the 20 mm balls 3. Lameck NN (2005) Effects of Grinding Media Shapes on Ball Mill Performances.

appeared to be increasing even though the mill load for that mill run Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa: University of the Witwatersrand.

was lower. This was unusual because literature stated that higher mill 4. Magdalinovic N, Trumic M, Trumic M, Andric L (2012) The Obtimal Ball

loads experienced a higher power draw [11]. The power draw for the Diameter in a Mill. Physico Chem Probl Miner Process 48: 329-339

ball combination mill run appeared to be decreasing to a large extent.

5. Kalemtas A (2014) Ceramic Materials.

This therefore indicated that this particular mill run was the more

energy efficient compared to the other mill run 6. Fuerstenau, Sullevan (2014, July 22). Retrieved from www.onemine.org:

7. http://www.onemine.org/search/summary.cfm/Minerals-Beneficiation-

Conclusion -Size-Distributions-and-Energy-Consumption-in-Wet-and-Dry-

Grinding?d=1234567890

It could be concluded that in terms of the milling kinetics, large ball

8. Monov V, Sokolov B, Stoenchev S (2012) Grinding in Ball Mills: Modeling and

diameters were more suitable for milling larger material whereas small Process Control. Cybernetics and Information Technologies 12: 51-68.

ball diameters would be more effective at milling smaller sized material.

This was evident on the cumulative % passing curves whereby the plot 9. Sahoo GK (2008) Correlations for the Grindability of the Ball Mill as a Measure

of its Performance. Asia Pacific Journal of Chemical Engineering 3: 230-235.

obtained when milling with larger ball diameters (30 mm and ball

combination) was more distributed compared to the curves obtained 10. Fortsch DS (2006) Ball charge Loading Impact on specific power consumption

and capacity. Cement Industry Technical Conference, Conference Record.

from milling with smaller diameter balls (20 mm and 10 mm) The

maximum point on the selection function plots for larger ball diameters 11. Bwalya (2014) Supervisor Consultation.

was greater than that of small ball diameters and the abnormal region

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