Microstructural evolution during pyrometallurgical processes

Many experiments are needed to investigate the influence of all parameters and, even though the microstructure and composition can be investigated. Moreover, it is very difficult to study the effect of each parameter individually because it is virtually impossible to keep the others constant. Hence, it is not straightforward to reveal the underlying chemical and physical phenomena with experiments.

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The phase field method already proved to be a very powerful and versatile modelling tool for microstructural evolution, e.g. during solidification, solid-state phase transformations and solid-state sintering.

A binary phase-field model simulates the attachment of liquid metal droplets to solid particles in liquid slags with a non-reactive solid particle. The influence of several parameters on the attachment of the metal droplets to the solids was investigated: the interfacial energies, the particle morphology, initialization method, solid particle movement and the speed of the solid particle movement.

Depending on the interfacial energies, four regimes were observed: no wettability of the metal on the particle, low wettability, high wettability and full wetting, as illustrated in the upper part of the figure below.

Afterwards, it was investigated how rigid body motion of the solid particle influences the attachment, as shown in the lower part of the figure below. A major observation is the fact that the apparent contact angle of the metal is larger when rigid body motion is present, which corresponds to a lower apparent wettability.

The study on the influence of the speed of the rigid body motion also showed that there is a trade-off between the attraction of the metal towards the solid particle and the speed of the movement of the solid particle.

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