Effect of load variability on matching during continuous microwave treatment of crushed mineral ores
In order to assess the requirements for online matching when using a transverse electric field (E-field) applicator to treat mineral ores continuously, the effect of varying load properties on matching has been investigated by simulation. The effective permittivity of the ore to be treated is expected to show variation on both short (< 1 s) and long (minutes) time scales. By modelling the ore as a series of slices with alternating effective permittivity values, it was shown that permittivity variations on the scale of the expected particle size are attenuated significantly and matching is not required. For variations in permittivity on the length scale of the free-space wavelength, variations in reflected power are at most within ±10% of the mean. This is not considered operationally significant, as extreme permittivity variation over this length scale is unlikely, given the expected distribution of ore particle sizes to be treated. At typical ore transport speeds through the applicator, these variations occur on a time scale an order of magnitude shorter than the response time of typical industrial online matching equipment. This implies that online matching is neither required nor possible for short time scale variation. Long-term variations in dielectric properties can be adequately compensated for by current matching technologies. It is concluded that the transverse E-field applicator is robust to changes in the dielectric properties of crushed ores within the expected range of their variation. © 2011 The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.