Bonded-particle modelling of microwave-induced damage in ore particles
Microwave heating of mineral ores offers a mechanism to induce fractures around grain boundaries due to the different rates of microwave power dissipation and the differences in thermal expansion coefficient among various minerals in the ore particles. As a consequence, this has the potential to reduce the energy required in subsequent grinding and to enhance liberation of valuable minerals. In this paper, numerical simulation using a bonded-particle model was undertaken to provide a better understanding of the mechanism of microwave-induced micro-fracture and to predict the effect of microwave power delivery and ore texture on microwave treatment of ores. Computational simulations of microwave heating and thermal damage have been carried out on two-phase conceptual ores. It was shown that the extent of damage and the crack pattern in an ore sample for the same microwave energy input depend strongly on the applied power density and the microwave absorbent phase grain size. It is possible both to reduce the energy input and to localize the microwave-induced damage around the grain boundaries by operating at high power density. It was also shown that high power pulsed equipment would be more efficient than continuous wave equipment for treating fine-grained ores. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.