Outotec Process Advisor Startup at Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter in Kalgoorlie, Australia

A new integrated online process control model, Outotec Process Advisor, has been started up in the Nickel smelter in Kalgoorlie, Australia. The flash furnace is a combined flash furnace and electric furnace, with an appendage equipped with six electrodes. The slag tapped from the flash furnace is discarded.

Figure 1: Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter

The main difference between this model compared to the previous models, was that this model was set up in complete AUTO mode for oxygen coefficient, silica flux, reaction shaft fuel, preheating temperature, oxygen enrichment and lime setpoints, so that the operator does not normally interfere with the process control.

Outotec Process Advisor features

The Outotec Process Advisor is an expert level process control system, which can be integrated with any automation system and laboratory system as long as there is an OPC connection available.

Benefits

  • Standard operation between shifts
  • Stabilized process
  • Improved view of the current process state
  • Increased campaign life
  • Lower slag losses
  • Increased production with consistent product quality

Figure 2. Outotec Process Advisor functional layout.

The software contains tables for feed mixture, matte/blister/metal and slag assays and melt temperatures. These can be directly linked to receive the values through an OPC link or they can also be manually entered in the process advisor.

The process advisor also contains filtering out of incorrect or unrealistic values. A traffic light visualization system is used for assay values and for prompting the operator when a new assay or temperature has been received. Since the process advisor is a web based application, it is possible for other viewers to connect (without operating rights) and to use the Process Advisor for assessment of process performance.

Figure 3: Process advisor operating screens

As an option the process advisor also contains online ternary slag liqudus diagrams, which continuously calculate the slag liquidus temperature and displays the operating point with a spot. The diagrams are also history browsable. The diagrams are client slag specific for maximum accuracy.

Figure 4: Example of process advisor online slag liquidus diagram

Process results

The process results improved significantly after commisioning of the process advisor whiich can be seen as a more stable matte grade and a lower slag Ni loss. The standard deviation of the flash furnace matte grade was lowered from 7.03% to 1.02% and the nickel loss in slag from the flash furnace lowered by 10 to 50% depending on operating conditions. Time periods compared were roughly 1.5 months before and 3 weeks after.

Outotec would sincerely like to thank Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter project and operating personnel for the opportunity and the co-operation in this very inspiring project together with the client.

Read more about Outotec Process Advisor here.

Text: Peter Björklund, Technology Manager, Outotec