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International Journal of Mineral Processing 136 (2015) 2631

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International Journal of Mineral Processing

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Investigation of the comminution process in pendular roller mills

Markus Wheeldon a, Joachim Galk b, Karl-Ernst Wirth a,
Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute of Particle Technology (LFG), Cauerstrae 4, 91058 Erlangen, Germany
Neuman & Esser GmbH Mahl- und Sichtsysteme, Werkstrae, 52531 bach-Palenberg, Germany

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: In the dry grinding industry the demand for very ne particle size distributions is increasing rapidly. At the same
Received 15 December 2013 time a growing awareness for an economical management of our planet's resources has raised the demand for
Received in revised form 21 August 2014 energy efcient processes.
Accepted 24 September 2014
Roller mills in general and specically pendular roller mills are best suited to meet these conictive demands,
Available online 5 November 2014
since they can, up to this day, produce particle size distributions with a D97 b 10 m while evidencing compara-
tively low power consumption values and high solids throughputs.
Dry grinding The design of the pendular roller mill is thus far based on the experience gathered from industrially utilized mills.
Pendular roller mills Due to the aforementioned development of roller mill applications this experience will no longer be sufcient for
Comminution guaranteeing a successful scale-up process. In order to nd valid scale-up rules for ne grinding pendular mills
Classier mills the operating behavior of such mills must rst be fully understood.
The grinding process in roller mills can be subdivided into the following steps: comminution between the rollers
and the grinding ring, classication and solids transport between milling zone and classier. In order to verify and
improve the existing scale-up methods all process steps must be completely characterized.
In order to characterize the comminution process a new measuring method was developed with which the mill-
ing gap between the rollers and the grinding ring and the rotation speed of the rollers can be determined simul-
taneously. This method was used on a pilot scale pendular roller mill during course and ne grinding processes to
investigate the inuence of process settings on the comminution conditions.
As a result of measuring the milling gap, it is now possible for the rst time to measure the relationships between
parameters such as energy input, solids throughput, solids hold-up or pressure loss on the one hand and the mill-
ing gap on the other hand. These relationships can be used to establish a physical model of the comminution pro-
cess, from which a scale-up rule for the comminution process can be derived.
This publication will show and assess the relation between process parameters and the milling gap for course and
ne grinding processes respectively.
2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction white to natural products such as cocoa bean shells its most common
application is the processing of minerals (Galk, 2008). Table 1 shows a
With the rst pendular roller mill being designed and built well over list of events where pendular roller mills have been operating in the
a century ago pendular roller mills or centrifugal mills, as they are some- comminution of minerals.
times referred to, are one of the oldest and most proven roller mills in The typical product size range for these processes lies between
the eld of comminution. D97,3 b 200 m and D97,3 N 20 m. However, there has been a recent de-
The original purpose of these mills was the processing of coal to coal velopment of market demand towards high throughputs in a t/h range
dust which was used for steam generation in power plants. Due to its with particle sizes of D97,3 b 10 m, with high performance concrete
comparatively low power and space requirements the pendular roller being a good example for such an application.
mill was quickly able to replace ball mills as the standard mill type with- Due to these developing markets a reevaluation of the pendular roller
in power plant circuits (Unger, 1983; Pahl, 1993). mill is in order, which should lead to a better understanding of the mech-
After the emergence of other roller mills with higher capacities, such anisms occurring in the mill especially during ne grinding processes.
as the bowl mill crusher, the eld of application for pendular roller mills
shifted towards minerals and pigments (Galk, 2008). 2. Working principle of the pendular roller mill
Although pendular roller mills are used for the comminution of a big
variety of different materials ranging from pigments like titanium The biggest distinguishing feature of the pendular roller mill from
other roller mill types is the generation of the comminution force by ro-
Corresponding author. tation of the grinding bodies. A sketch of a pendular roller mill is given in
0301-7516/ 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
M. Wheeldon et al. / International Journal of Mineral Processing 136 (2015) 2631 27

Table 1 concerning the general process of particle bed breakage (Nguyen,

Minerals processed by pendular roller mills. 2002; Husemann and Mtze, 2007) which helps to understand the
Mineral Fineness D97.3/m Solids throughput/th1 comminution process in pendular roller mills to a certain degree, but
Barytes 3275 260
as to which extend this knowledge can be used as the foundation for
Bentonite 3275 260 new ne grinding scale-up rules will be impossible to tell, until it is pos-
Clay 45200 2130 sible to properly monitor the comminution process in the pendular roll-
Graphite 32200 160 er mill.
Gypsum 80120 1070
Lime/limestone 100200 160
Phosphate rock 120500 15100 3. Material and methods
Talcum 2075 160
The typical monitoring of the comminution process by solely mea-
suring the power consumption of the mill motor and the axial pressure
Fig. 1. Each grinding body, usually referred to as grinding roller, is part of loss generated between the bottom of the mill and the section of the
a pendulum which is attached to the cross head. By rotating the cross cross head would appear to be inadequate to help explain the underly-
head a centrifugal force is applied to the pendulums, forcing them ing physics. For example, merely knowing the power consumption will
against the grinding ring. It is in the gap between the grinding ring make it impossible to distinguish between the actual comminution en-
and the grinding roller where the comminution process takes place. ergy and other forms of energy, such as the energy required for the
Consequently the comminution force increases with an increasing rev- movement of the rollers, kinetic energy of displaced particles and fric-
olution speed of the cross head. tion energy. Therefore, a new measuring device was designed which
In order to guide the feed material into the milling gap the feed is provides a deeper insight into the comminution process by measuring
added to the mill using the feed chute. From there the material drops the size of the milling gap and the revolution speed of the grinding rol-
to the bottom of the mill where it is picked up by both the process air lers, thus complementing the basic measurements of power consump-
and the feed blades rotating along with the grinding rollers. The process tion, pressure loss and mass ow. This work will focus on the results
air conveys the crushed material to the classier where the product par- of the milling gap measurements.
ticles pass through and exit the mill at the process air outlet, whereas The measurements were carried out on a PM05-model from
the coarse material is rejected against the mill housing and reintroduced Neuman & Esser with a maximum capacity of 10 t/h and a maximum
to the comminution process. mill motor power output of 60 kW.
The particle size distribution of the product can be adjusted by a con- As a sample material limestone out of Messinghausen Germany
certed combination of airow rate and classier revolution speed. (produced by Rheinkalk) is used, since it is inexpensive and easy to ac-
When looking at the working principle of the pendular roller mill it cess. The size distribution of the limestone is given in Fig. 3.
becomes apparent that the mill combines three unit operations in one
process, namely a comminution process, a conveying process and a clas- 3.1. Measurement of the milling gap size
sication process. Each individual process as well as their respective inter-
actions need to be investigated and understood in order to provide a For the purpose of measuring the milling gap size a laser distance an-
physically sound foundation for the process of scaling up these machines alyzer manufactured by Balluff is mounted to one of the pendulums. It
to ever higher capacities. Both the conveying and the classication pro- operates on the principle of triangulation. Therefore a laser beam is
cess can be investigated comparatively easily by measuring the pressure emitted at a specic angle measured from the analyzer plane. After
loss and motor power consumption. Additionally a lot of research has being reected at a surface at the end of the measured distance the
been done on pneumatic conveying (Muschelknautz, 1974) and classi- laser beam hits a sensor inside the analyzer, which can determine the
cation (Rumpf and Leschonski, 1967; Galk, 1996) which can be used to distance between the positon at which the laser beam exits and enters
better understand these processes in the pendular roller mill. the analyzer. From this value the distance between the analyzer and
However, unlike other roller mills, such as the high pressure roller the reecting surface can be calculated with a maximum resolution of
mill, where a lot of effort has been directed into investigating the oper- 200 m, using trigonometric equations. With this device the distance
ating behavior in general (Schnert, 1988) and the comminution pro- between the pendulum and the driving shaft can be measured (see
cess in particular (Schnert, 1996; Schnert and Sander, 2002), Fig. 2) and the resulting values can subsequently be used along with
nothing is published to the authors' knowledge about the comminution the known geometry to calculate the actual milling gap size. Therefore
process in pendular roller mills. There is extensive research available a two-point-calibration is carried out by using the values of zero gap
size and maximum gap size (26 mm). The pendulum axis is vertical
when no particles are present, but with particles being present it tilts in-
wards at a maximum angle of about 10, which means that the actual
gap size varies with the height of the grinding rollers. Therefore the
gap size is always referring to the width of the gap at the center of the
grinding rollers.
To enable the use of this optical measurement technique within a
high dust load atmosphere a rubber gaiter is applied to shield the mea-
suring distance between the sensor and the reection face from dust.
The transfer of the monitored data is achieved by a ZEBRA module
manufactured by Sentec Elektronik which is built into the measuring
device. This module contains a transmitter, with which the measured
data can be transferred wirelessly through the mill housing to a second
ZEBRA module with a respective receiver. This module is connected to a
laptop with which the data can be processed. Therefore the application
of a signal cable, which could wrap around the moving pendulums and
driving shaft during the milling process, can be avoided. With this setup
a sampling rate of 400 Hz can be achieved which is sufcient to cover
Fig. 1. Schematic sketch of a pendular roller mill. the dynamics of the pendulum and grinding roller movements.
28 M. Wheeldon et al. / International Journal of Mineral Processing 136 (2015) 2631

Fig. 2. Working principle of the gap size measurement at zero capacity (left) and full capacity (right).

Since the pendulums tilt inwards and because the measuring device sizes. The shown values were generated at grinding roller circumferen-
is xed to one of the pendulums a small error occurs during the mea- tial speeds of 7.0 m/s and 8.4 m/s.
surement of the milling gap size. However, this error can be estimated It is known that the required comminution energy increases with in-
to be smaller than 1% of the measured value. creasing neness, however, the power consumption of the mill motor
and thus the consumed energy of the comminution process increases
3.2. Measurement of the particle size distributions only with an increasing milling gap. There is no direct correlation with
the product size. The increase of the power consumption with an in-
During the grinding tests, samples were taken at a sampling point creasing milling gap size is most likely caused by the fact that more par-
shortly after the air lter. The particle size distribution of each sample ticles are being stressed at bigger milling gaps, which leads to more
was then analyzed in a Mastersizer 2000 from Malvern, using the dry breakage inside the particle bed and thus to a higher energy
dispersing unit. The applied dispersion pressure was 4 bar. The entire consumption.
process of sampling and analyzing the product can be carried out in However, when plotting Pmill over the gap size for different circum-
less than 5 min, which makes it possible to adjust the process parame- ferential speeds of the grinding rollers (see Fig. 4b), two effectually lin-
ters during the grinding test, if need be. ear curves can be observed.
The shift between these two curves in Fig. 4b can be eliminated by
4. Results replacing the power consumption of the mill motor with the torque of
the mill motor calculated from the power consumption values re-
The rst measurements to be conducted with the new measuring duced by the idle power consumption and the known angular velocity
device are meant to characterize the mill's entire operating behavior of the rollers using the following equation:
from coarse to ne grinding processes. Therefore measurements with
product neness values (see Fig. 3) of D97,3 = 137 m, D97,3 = 45 m Pmill Pmill; idle
T :
and D97,3 = 10 m are carried out.
For each given product neness the goal is to achieve a maximum
solids throughput while reaching stable process conditions. A process When considering the idle power consumption of the mill motor a
is considered stable when the solids hold-up, the difference between master curve is obtained (Fig. 5), which describes the required torque
solids input and output, stays constant. The product particle size is mon- at a specic milling gap size for all circumferential roller speeds (i.e.
itored during the process and adjusted by varying the circumferential comminution force) and all investigated product nenesses.
speed of the classier. The airow rate is kept constant at about The torque plotted in this graph is closely related to the product of
4.3 m3/s for all measurements referred to in the graph. the force necessary to move the rollers along the grinding ring (FR)
In Fig. 4a the respective power consumption of the mill motor is and the respective lever arm. This force is a result of the centrifugal
plotted over the milling gap size for the three investigated product force (FC) generated by the rotation of the cross head, which causes
the grinding rollers to sink into the particle bed, leaving a heap of parti-
cles to be pushed or overcome by the grinding rollers (Fig. 6).
This heap of particles causes elementary reactions of the particle bed
(dNx) which sum up to be equal to the force FR that has to be overcome
by the grinding rollers. The bigger the milling gap is, the higher the heap
of particles gets, which increases the sum of the elementary reactions of
the particle bed and thus the resistance force.
The existence of the master curve shown in Fig. 5 suggests that at a
given gap size the comminution process in the pendular roller mill gen-
erates the same product, regardless of the parameter settings. After the
comminution process the classier selects a specic particle fraction,
depending on its circumferential velocity, from the product generated
during the comminution process.
Subsequently, the only detectable inuence of the product particle
size on the comminution process can be found when looking at the
solids throughput. In Fig. 7 the solids throughput is plotted as a function
of the milling gap size at the three investigated product nenesses.
Fig. 3. Particle size distribution of feed material (sieve analysis) and of coarse, medium and According to Fig. 7 the solids throughput increases with increasing
ne products (laser diffraction analysis). milling gap size, however, the slope of the increase depends on the
M. Wheeldon et al. / International Journal of Mineral Processing 136 (2015) 2631 29

Fig. 4. Dependency of the power consumption of the mill motor on the milling gap size for different product sizes (a) and grinding roller circumferential speeds (b).

product particle size. For coarse and medium products the solids amount of product, however, at lower airow rates the process air is
throughput increases rapidly whereas the solids throughput of ne not able to carry all of the ne particles to the classier. It can be as-
product increases at a much lower rate. As expected, the maximum sumed that by further increasing the airow rate it will reach a level
achieved solids throughput for ne grinding is considerably lower at which the process air is capable of conveying all of the produced
than for coarse and medium grinding, but the reason for this does not nes up and through the classier, thus allowing the operation of the
solely lie in the fact that it is more difcult to produce ner particles. mill in a region in which the solids throughput is limited by the commi-
Due to the geometry of the mill the maximum possible milling gap nution process (Fig. 9).
size is 26 mm and it can be reached for both coarse and medium prod- Only at this point will the maximum possible solids throughput for a
ucts. However, during ne grinding the milling gap cannot be lled to specic product particle size distribution depend on the amount of such
more than 12 mm (Fig. 7), despite an increased effort to ll the mill particles being generated by the comminution process. However, since
with feed, i.e. increasing the feed rate to 5 t/h and increasing the solids it is not possible to reach this comminution limited region with the
hold-up to more than 1000 kg. It thus stands to reason that it is not test mill due to the failure of the air blower, which is caused by an in-
the comminution process, which limits the solids throughput for ne creased pressure loss, it can be concluded that the airow rate, and
grinding, leaving the conveying or the classication process as a possible thus the uid dynamics responsible for conveying the crushed particles
cause for this observed solids throughput limitation. up and through the classier, are determining the maximum possible
In order to nd out which of the two process steps is responsible for solids throughput at a specic product neness.
the limitation, experiments are carried out in which the maximum pos- With increasing product neness, i.e. with an increasing circumfer-
sible stable solids throughput is determined for an increasing airow ential speed of the classier, these uid dynamics become more and
rate, all of which while maintaining the product particle size distribu- more complicated, since the centrifugal force eld generated by the
tion. The airow rate is increased in small steps, until the overall pres- classier interacts with the airow responsible for carrying the product
sure loss reaches a level at which the air blower is no longer capable particles out of the comminution zone. As a consequence, a cyclone-like
of maintaining the airow rate. The results of these measurements are ow pattern is formed across the freeboard between the comminution
shown in Fig. 8. zone and the classier. While the occurring ow is theoretically not
The solids throughput increases linearly with an increasing airow strong enough to keep single particles of desirable size from passing
rate. At the same time the milling gap size remains comparatively un- through the classier, it has a signicant inuence on the particle
changed at 16.4 mm 2 mm, indicating that the conditions for the
comminution process are not affected by the increased airow rate. At
any airow rate the comminution process supplies (nearly) the same

Fig. 5. Master curve of comminution effort for different circumferential roller speeds and
product neness. Fig. 6. Forces and elementary reactions at the grinding roller (top view).
30 M. Wheeldon et al. / International Journal of Mineral Processing 136 (2015) 2631

Fig. 9. Assumed relation between solids throughput and airow rate for pendular roller

Fig. 7. Dependency of solids throughput on the gap size for varying product particle size
distributions. understand the underlying physics of the occurring processes in the
mill, especially since nearly all of the experience gathered from ma-
clusters that are typically formed under these ow conditions, very sim- chines deployed in industry is related to considerably coarser product.
ilar to the way experienced with uidized bed systems (Wirth, 1990). In order to gain a deeper insight into the occurring mechanisms a new
These particle clusters behave in a more inert way than the single parti- measuring device was developed which allows monitoring the milling
cles that are forming the clusters, which results in the rejection of the gap size during the grinding process and thus helps to detect changes
clusters, and thus the product particles embedded in the clusters, to- and patterns of the comminution process at different process
wards the mill housing. This is especially true for very high local solids parameters.
concentrations above 1 kg/m2 such as were determined to occur in First measurements carried out with this measuring device show that
pendular roller mills via pressure loss measurements (Wheeldon and the energy required for comminution increases effectively linearly with
Wirth, 2013) since the fraction of clusters increases in respect to the an increasing milling gap size. However, no relation could be found be-
overall cross section area with increasing solids concentrations (Wirth, tween the product particle size and the power consumption of the mill
1990; Richter, 2012). As a result many particles complying with the motor. In fact, when considering the different idle power consumptions
demanded product particle size do not reach the classier, which in for different circumferential speeds of the grinding rollers, the relation be-
turn leads to a lower than necessary solids throughput. tween the power consumption of the mill motor and the milling gap size
Because of the increased interactions of the classication and the con- is not affected by the product particle size or the comminution force.
veying process with increasing classier speeds the airow rate level at The solids throughput also increases with an increasing milling gap
which the operating behavior of the mill switches from the conveying size. However, the rate of the increase depends on the product particle
limited behavior to the comminution limited behavior presumably shifts size and is the highest for coarse product. In the case of ne grinding
towards higher airow rates with increasing product neness. the milling gap cannot be fully utilized, which suggests that there is a
By increasing the airow rate more particles can be carried up by the limitation of the solids throughput that is not caused by the comminu-
process air towards the classier. As a result more particles manage to tion process. Further investigations reveal that the maximum possible
reach the classier, which in turn leads to an increase of the solids solids throughput for a specic product particle size is determined by
throughput. the applied airow rate. From this nding a model is established
which separates the operation of pendular roller mills into two airow
rate regions, one at which the solids throughput is determined by the
5. Conclusion
conveying process and one at which it is determined by the comminu-
tion process. The results of the measurements lead to the conclusion
With evolving elds of application for pendular roller mills in ne
that within the typical operating range of pendular roller mills the pro-
grinding (d97,3 = 10 m) it becomes more and more important to
cess air is not able to carry all of the produced ne particles out of the
comminution zone of the mill and up to the classier. Pendular roller
mills thus operate in the region determined by the conveying process.


This research was supported nancially by the Neuman & Esser

GmbH, Germany. The authors are very grateful for this help.


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