The universal solution? At last computing power catches up with the need to analyze the real world. Solutions for the mining industry are not there yet, but the computer codes are standing ready: do you need to design a hydrocyclone, solve a block caving problem, specify the geometry of a jointed rock slope, choose the right excavator to pick up blasted rock, simulate the conveyor performance, optimize the flume geometry, calculate the factor of safety of the slope. I have just come across the computer code that can solve all these problems and countless more involving discrete particles or flow of a fluid that ultimately comes down to being no more than an aggregate of discrete particles.

As so often, John Chadwick and International Mining are ahead. In the article Process Control, John provides this news of movements in the world of advanced software and engineering:

Fluent, which claims to be the world leader in computational fluid dynamics software and services, has entered into a partnership with DEM Solutions, a leading developer of Discrete Element Methods software solutions.

Fluent’s software is used to simulate, visualize, and analyze fluid flow, heat and mass transfer, and chemical reactions. A reasonable technical article that illustrates the use of their codes deals with Hydropower Turbines made more efficient. I liked the article on Activated Sludge Basin – maybe because I have tried to design one myself many years ago and that was not easy. For those who liked Pirates of the Caribbean, a similar sense of the wry will take you to A Dry Passage to the Afterlife.

DEM Solutions software is used to simulate, analyze, and visualize particle flows so that you can get a feel for what is happening in a situation involving particle kinematics, momentum, and heat and mass transfer.

The end product of all this software is, for example a new and better hydrocyclone. Here is as complex a technical paper as you will find on going from the physical equations, through the computer codes, to the reality of a metal cyclone: Designing Automated Computations Fluid Dynamics Modelling Tools for Hydrocyclone Design.

Really it would be much easier to got to the Krebs website and see what they have to offer and hence choose and buy the right cyclone for the job. From their headquarters in Tucson they “supply the broadest range of sizes, styles and configurations of hydrocyclones available in the industry. Hydrocyclones from 0.5- to 90-inch [13- to 2,286-mm] in diameter are offered to meet specific performance objectives. To meet customers’ process condition, hydrocyclones in a variety of housing, liners and component materials are available. Literally hundreds of hydrocyclone configurations are available to meet applications including solid/liquid separation, liquid/liquid separation and multiphase desanding.”

To end: I cannot resist replicating this picture of Tucson, amongst my favorite places in the US. My first two years in north America were spent at the corner of Tanque Verde and Pantano looking out over Mt Lemon. Google Earth confirms that the apartments are still there although the trees are a lot larger. Who knows when I will get back, if ever. Maybe I need to write more about cyclones, particulate mechanics, Fluent, DEM, and Krebs. To do that, I need to visit their engineers.