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Use of boron based binders in pelletization of iron ores

Sivrikaya, Osman
Bentonite is the most preferred silicate-based binder in iron ore pelletizing. However, it is considered as an impurity due to its high SiO2 and Al2O3 content. The iron-making economy is adversely affected by the addition of bentonite or other silicate-based binders. In recent years, impurity-free alternative binders have been tested in order to replace bentonite or to lower the bentonite dosage. Organic binders yield good quality green and dry pellets. However, they fail to impart enough mechanical strength to the preheated and fired pellets as a result of insufficient slag bonding. Thus, they have not found widespread application in the industry. The addition of boron compounds into pellet mix is proposed as a potential solution to overcome the insufficient compressive strengths of preheated and fired pellets produced with organic binders. During the experiments, some organic binders and boron compounds were tested as alternative binders to bentonite either alone or in combination, for both magnetite and hematite pellets. The performances of the tested binders on pellet qualities: balling, wet pellet moisture content, drop number, pellet compressive strengths (wet - dry - preheated - fired), dustiness, porosity, mineralogy, morphology, chemical contents, reducibility and swelling index have been compared with the performances of reference bentonite binder. The results of the tests showed that, the quality of pellets are insufficient when organic binders or calcined colemanite used as binder alone. The former failed to provide sufficient preheated and fired pellet strengths, the latter failed in terms of wet and dry pellet quality. However, good quality wet, dry, preheated and fired pellets could be produced with combination of these two binders. Calcined colemanite addition into pellets made with organic binders was tested in different dosages (0.25-1.00%). Results showed that with increasing dosage of calcined colemanite both strengths of preheated and fired pellets increased linearly. It was found that as low as 0.50% calcined colemanite addition equally-performed on magnetite fired magnetite pellets at 1300oC when compared with the performance of the reference bentonite binder. However, its performance was better on hematite pellets in order to improve the pellet compressive strengths. In addition, stronger pellets could be produced at lower firing temperatures like 1100oC with the addition of calcined colemanite. The reason of the improved preheated and fired compressive strengths of pellets bonded with calcined colemanite was due to the physical melting of calcined colemanite at the contact point of iron oxide grains during thermal treatment. It was found that bentonite bonded pellets fired at 1300oC were more reducible than those of produced with calcined colemanite addition. Swelling indices of these pellets were determined in the industrially acceptable limits. The chemical and mineralogical analyses results showed that the combined binders did not contaminate the pellet composition since the organic binders burnt-out without residue and colemanite does not contain much impurity.