108
Part. Part. Syst. Charact. 15 (1998) 108–111
Conversion Factors to Convert Particle Size Distributions Measured by One Method to Those Measured by Another Method
Leonard G. Austin*
(Received: 18 October 1997)
Abstract
It is shown that the conversion of size distributions measured with a laser diffractometer or sedimentometer to equivalent sieve size distribution depends not only on a mean shape factor but also on the size distribution being measured. An equation is given for calculating an overall conversion factor when the
cumulative sieve size distribution is of the Schuhmann form PðxÞ¼ðx=kÞ ^{m} . The technique is illustrated using results from a laser diffractometer and the Xray Sedigraph, and gives the conversion factors from diffractometer to sedigraph and vice versa.
1 Introduction
It is common knowledge that the deﬁnition of particle size as determined by a laser diffractometer is different from that of size as determined by a sedimentometer, and both are different to the deﬁnition of size measured by sieve analysis. This fact makes it difﬁcult to compare results between different methods. In particular, although sieve analysis is by far the most widely used method of size analysis in industry [1], it is often desired to extend the analysis below 38 m material. To extend the sieve size distribution of a sample to below 38 m, it is not sufﬁcient simply to measure the subsieve size material in a diffractometer or sedimentometer, as the two size distributions do not join smoothly because of the different deﬁnitions of size. To make them join it is necessary to multiply the size measured by the instrument by a factor, the apparent mean shape factor. This communication will show that this factor depends not only on the true mean shape factor but also on the size distribution being tested. It gives a method of calculating the factor based on calibrating an instrument
with a
connect size distributions which have the Schuhmann form of
sieve size fraction and shows how it can be used to
2
cumulative size distribution of PðxÞ¼ðx=kÞ ^{m} .
2 Theory
The ﬁrst step is to prepare a
material by careful wet screening with standard sieves to ensure
that ﬁne particles are not adherent to the particles within the
sieve range. Typically, the sample will be the 270 by 400 mesh (58 × 38 m), or the 230 by 35 mesh (63 × 45 m) fraction.
This is dispersed and tested in the subsieve size analyzer. The
spread
primarily over ﬁve
size different from the geometric mean sieve size of the tested sample. This is due to the range of shapes of particles of a given
resulting
size intervals and have a 50%passing
2
sieve size fraction from the
2
instrument
size
2
distribution
will
normally
* Prof. L. G. Austin, Department of Mineral Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802 (USA).
sieve size. Figure 1 illustrates the process and deﬁnes the fractions
which fall into the ﬁve size intervals as k _{¹}_{2} , k _{¹}_{1} , k _{0} , k _{1} and k _{2} . Austin and Shah [2] have shown experimentally that these mass
2 sieve interval chosen, providing
there is no change in the shapes of particles with size. Cho et al. [3]
have shown that the values also do not change signiﬁcantly with
fractions do not depend on the
the shape of the size distribution curve from which the fraction is taken.
2 sieve
Fig. 1:
ﬁve
Illustration of material in a 2 instrument size intervals.
2
sieve size interval appearing in
The next step is to prepare the test sample of ﬁne material, typically by wet sieving at 400 mesh, although any convenient
sieve size can be used. Let the separating sieve size be denoted by x _{3} and let the sieve size distribution of the material be represented by the function P(x), where x is sieve size and P(x) is the mass fraction below size x. This can be put as the vector deﬁned by the sieve sequence down to a small size, that is, the vector Pðx _{3} Þ,
Pðx _{4} Þ,
,
and Pðx _{3} Þ ¼ 1. Now let the size distribution on this sample as
measured by the instrument be Q(x). Express this as Qðx _{1} Þ,
x _{2} , and Qðx _{1} Þ 1.
Qðx _{2} Þ; …:Qðx _{n} Þ, where x _{2} ¼
Consider size x _{i} where n ¹ 3 i 1. A mass balance on material which appears less than size x _{i} as measured by the
instrument is
Pðx _{5} Þ; …:Pðx _{n} Þ,
where
x _{4} ¼ x _{3} =
2 ; ……x _{n} ¼ x _{n}_{¹}_{1} =
2
2
2 x _{3} , x _{1} ¼
Qðx _{i} Þ ¼
Pðx _{i} Þ¹ðk _{¹}_{1} þ k _{¹}_{2} Þp _{i} ¹ k _{¹}_{2} p _{i}_{þ}_{1}
þðk _{1} þ k _{2} Þp _{i}_{¹}_{1} þ k _{2} p _{i}_{¹}_{2}
ð1Þ
where p _{i} is the fractional mass of particles in the sieve size interval indexed by i, p _{i} ¼ Pðx _{i} Þ ¹ Pðx _{i}_{þ}_{1} Þ. The additional information is
WileyVCH Verlag GmbH, D69469 Weinheim, 1998
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Part. Part. Syst. Charact. 15 (1998) 108–111
109
that Pðx _{1} Þ ¼ Pðx _{2} Þ ¼ Pðx _{3} Þ ¼ 1, that is, p _{1} ¼ p _{2} ¼ 0 and p _{¹}_{1} ¼ p _{0} ¼ 0. Starting at i ¼ 1, Qðx _{1} Þ ¼ 1. For i ¼ 2, Qðx _{2} Þ ¼ 1 ¹ k _{¹}_{2} p _{3} , and so on. The material in the ﬁnal n ^{t}^{h} sieve internal
2 intervals is not
which is sent to the next two larger instrument
from a
not be extended to the three smallest size intervals. The problem is now ‘‘Given the vector of Qðx _{i} Þ values, what is equivalent set of Pðx _{i} Þ values?’’ In principle, this could be done by simultaneous or sequential solution of the sets of equations of equation 1, but due to experimental and model error the solution
2 sieve interval and also k _{1} , k _{2} ¼ 0, so the balance can
will normally be unstable and produce some negative values of p _{i} . Cho et al. [3] have given two search procedures to overcome this problem, one method assuming a functional form for P(x), and the
other a constrained search to obtain the sets of p _{i} values. However,
a much simpler procedure is available in the common case where
the values of Q(x) give an extended region which ﬁts a relation of QðxÞ ¼ ax ^{m} , as follows:
Consider a cumulative sieve size distribution which has the form PðxÞ¼ðx=kÞ ^{m} , or has a substantial region which ﬁts this form. The
values of Pðx _{i} Þ are given by
Pðx _{i} Þ¼ðx _{i} =kÞ ^{m} :
ð2Þ
2 . Then each value of Pðx _{i} Þ is related to
Let R be the sieve ratio 1=
the values at two intervals larger and two intervals smaller by
Pðx _{i}_{þ}_{2} Þ ¼ R ^{2}^{m} Pðx _{j} Þ
Pðx _{i}_{þ}_{1} Þ ¼ R ^{1}^{m} Pðx _{i} Þ
R ^{0}^{m} Pðx _{i} Þ
Pðx _{i} Þ ¼
Pðx _{i}_{¹}_{1} Þ ¼ R ^{¹}^{1}^{m} Pðx _{i} Þ
Pðx _{i}_{¹}_{2} Þ ¼ R ^{¹}^{2}^{m} Pðx _{i} Þ
:
ð3Þ
By substituting p _{i} ¼ Pðx _{i} Þ ¹ Pðx _{i}_{þ}_{1} Þ in Eq. (1) and collecting terms
it becomes (using 1 ¹ k _{1} ¹ k _{2} ¹ k _{¹}_{1} ¹ k _{¹}_{2} ¼ k _{0} ),
Qðx _{i} Þ ¼ k _{0} Pðx _{i} Þ þ k _{¹}_{2} Pðx _{i}_{þ}_{2} Þ þ k _{¹}_{1} Pðx _{i}_{þ}_{1} Þ
þk _{2} Pðx _{i}_{¹}_{2} Þ þ k _{1} Pðx _{i}_{¹}_{1} Þ:
Substituting from Eq. (3) gives
Qðx _{i} Þ ¼
k _{0} þ k _{¹}_{2} R ^{2}^{m} þ k _{¹}_{1} R ^{m} þ k _{2} R ^{¹}^{2}^{m} þ k _{1} R ^{¹}^{m} gPðx _{i} Þ
or
QðxÞ ¼ KPðxÞ ¼ Kðx=kÞ ^{m} :
ð1aÞ
ð4Þ
ð4aÞ
Thus it is proved that Q(x) is also a power function with the same exponent m but changed in magnitude by a constant factor K. If the instrument size distribution Q(x) is plotted versus x as a Schuhmann loglog plot, the slope will be m and the equivalent sieve size distribution P(x) will be a parallel line, higher if K < 1 and lower if K > 1, over the particle size region where Q(x) is a straight line. In addition, Pðx _{3} Þ ¼ 1 is known, since the top sieve size of the tested sieve sample x _{3} is known. The shift factor K cannot apply to the top two sieve size intervals or the two size
intervals above the top sieve size. In principle, estimates of Pðx _{4} Þ, Pðx _{5} Þ, etc., can be made by sequential solution down to the x value where Q(x) versus x becomes a power function, but normally errors accumulate rapidly in this computation.
It is common [4] to deﬁne a ‘‘mean shape factor’’ as the factor r by
which the instrument size must be multiplied to give the sieve size at which the same mass percentage less than size is obtained. If the particle size as measured by the instrument is denoted by X and the
particle size as measured by sieving is denoted by x, r ¼ x=X where QðXÞ ¼ PðxÞ. This is equivalent on loglog Schuhmann plots to sliding the Q(X) curve to the right by a factor to obtain the equivalent sieve size distribution (see Figure 2). The connection between K and r is clearly QðXÞ ¼ KPðXÞ ¼ KðX=kÞ ^{m} and QðXÞ¼ðrX=kÞ ^{m} , giving
r ¼ K ^{1}^{=}^{m}
or
K ¼ r ^{m}
:
ð5Þ
Fig. 2: Calculated size distributions for a sieve size distribution of Pðx _{i} Þ ¼ ðx _{i} =63 m): K _{1} ¼ 0:87 for crystalline quartz in a Microtrac; K _{1} ¼ 1:06 in Sedigraph.
Since Eq. (4) shows that K is a function of m it is clear that r is also
a function of m. Thus, a mean shape factor r deﬁned by x ¼ rX is
not unique to the material but depends on the size distribution being examined, so it is better to call it an apparent shape factor. This shape factor can only be compared between different materials or different instruments for the particular case when
m ¼ 1, in which case
r _{1} ¼
k _{0} þ 2k _{2} þ k _{1}
2
þ k _{¹}_{2} =2 þ k _{¹}_{1} =
2 :
ð7Þ
A corresponding unique value of K applicable for m ¼ 1 is
symbolized by K _{1} , where K _{1} ¼ r _{1} .
3 Experimental Results
The values of k for irregular particles of quartz and coals as measured in the Microtrac laser diffractometer instrument [5] have already been reported [2, 6], and are shown in Table 1. The result shows that the particle size measured by the instrument is larger than the geometric mean sieve size, that is, the instrument size distribution must be moved up (K < 1) to obtain the sieve size distribution. If the diffractometer size distribution over a substantial range of size intervals has a slope of 1 the values of Q(x) must be multiplied by 1.15 (¼ 1=K _{1} Þ to obtain the equivalent sieve size distribution. In terms of sliding the curve in the size
scale, the Microtrac size scale must be multiplied by 0.87. There is
a signiﬁcant effect of the slope m on K. A diffractometer size
distribution with a ﬂat slope of 0.5 would have to be slid by a factor
110
Part. Part. Syst. Charact. 15 (1998) 108–111
Table 1: 
Dispersion factors k for 2 sieve interval fractions of crystalline quartz tested in the Microtrac laser diffractometer and the Xray Sedigraph. 

Instrument 
Tested size: mesh 
k _{2} 
k _{1} 
k _{0} 
k _{¹}_{1} 
k _{¹}_{2} 
mK 
r 

Microtrac 
170 × 230} 230 × 325} 
0.03 
0.10 
0.31 
0.37 
0.19 
0.5 
0.92 
0.85 
1.0 
0.87 
0.87 

2.0 
0.86 
0.96 

Sedigraph 
270 × 400 
0.01 
0.25 
0.55 
0.18 
0.01 
0.5 
1.02 
1.04 
1.0 
1.06 
1.06 

2.0 
1.18 
1.09 
Conversion factors Microtrac to Sedigraph
mKr
0.5 
1.11 
1.24 
1.0 
1.22 
1.22 
2.0 
1.37 
1.17 
of 0.85 in the size scale, but only 0.96 for a steep slope of m ¼ 2.
The Sedigraph [7] results showed that the mean instrument size (the 50%passing size) was almost equal to the geometric mean
sieve size. However, the vertical shift factors K were greater than
1, and the horizontal shift factors r were also greater than 1, so that
size measured by the instrument is less than sieve size. The conversion factors from Microtrac to Sedigraph are quite large and
vary signiﬁcantly with m.
4 Discussion and Conclusions
To obtain reproducible results for the shift factors it is necessary to perform careful wetscreening to ensure that ﬁnes are washed off the coarser material, and to perform sufﬁcient tests to get a reliable set of k values. The shift factor K translates the region of the instrument data which ﬁts QðxÞ x ^{m} to an equivalent sieve size distribution by PðxÞ ¼ QðxÞ=K. Since the top sieve size of the test sample is known (x _{3} ) it is often possible to interpolate from this region to x _{3} where Pðx _{3} Þ ¼ 1.
In practice, because of the asymmetric nature of the k values there
may be some small fraction of material which falls in the third
instrument
interval. However, it is normally sufﬁcient to consider only ﬁve k
values, although the corresponding Equation 4 for seven intervals
is easily derived. Attempts to backcalculate P(x) from Q(x) values
by direct sequential solution (or matrix inversion) of the Equation
1 set are not normally successful due to accumulation of errors and
a constrained search procedure is necessary [3] if the size
distribution is not of the form PðxÞ¼ðx=kÞ ^{m} . For the crystalline quartz tested here, the Sedigraph particle size
is quite close to the sieve size but the Microtrac size is considerably larger, for a slope of the tested size distribution
close to 1. On the other hand, for a slope of 2 the Microtrac particle size is still larger than the sieve size and the Sedigraph size smaller, but the Microtrac size is now actually closer to the sieve size than the Sedigraph size, in the region of constant slope, see Figure 3. The shift factors K or r depend not only on the particular instrument and material tested but also on the shape of the size distribution of the sample being measured. Thus it is not surprising that the consistent comparison of size distributions measured by one technique with those measured by another has proved difﬁcult. Calibration of instrument and material by determining reproduci
ble values of the dispersion k values on
be a step forward.
size interval above (or below) the top sieve size
2
2 sieve samples would
Fig.
of
Sedigraph.
distribution
Pðx _{i} Þ¼ðx _{i} =63 m) ^{2} : K ¼ 0:86 for the Microtrac and 1.18 for the
3:
Calculated
size
distributions
for
a
sieve
size
5 Symbols and Abbreviations
i
k the value of x in PðxÞ¼ðx=kÞ ^{m} at which PðxÞ ¼ 1 ð mÞ
k
an integer indexing a
2
2 size interval (–)
the mass fraction of material in a
appears in a
larger (–) in the same size interval (–) two intervals smaller (–)
the vertical shift factor deﬁned by QðxÞ ¼ KPðxÞ (–) value of K for m ¼ 1 (–)
2 sieve size which
_{¹}_{2}
_{0}
_{2}
instrument size interval two intervals
k
k
K
K _{1}
m the exponent in PðxÞ¼ðx=kÞ ^{m} (–)
n the number of size intervals (–)
p _{i}
2 sieve size interval
the mass fraction of material in the
indexed by i (–) the cumulative mass fraction of material less than sieve
size x (–) the cumulative mass fraction of material less than size x as determined by the instrument (–)
a size scale shift factor deﬁned by QðXÞ ¼ PðrXÞ (–)
a shape factor deﬁned by the value of r for m ¼ 1 (–)
1=
P(x)
Q(x)
r
r _{1}
R
x particle size ( m)
2
x _{i}
X
the upper size of the
a particle size measured by an instrument corresponding to
a sieve size x, where QðXÞ ¼ PðxÞ ( m)
2 interval indexed by i (–)
Part. Part. Syst. Charact. 15 (1998) 108–111
111
6 References
[1] K. Leschonski: Sieve Analysis, the Cinderella of Particle Size Analysis Methods? Powder Technol. 24 (1979) 115–124.
L. G. Austin, I. Shah: A Method for InterConversion of Microtrac
and Sieve Size Distributions. Powder Technol. 35 (1983) 271–28. [3] H. Cho, K. Yidilrim, L. G. Austin: The Conversion of Sedigraph Size Distributions to Equivalent SubSieve Screen Size Distribu tions. Powder Technol. 95 (1998) 109–117.
[2]
[4] T. Allen: Particle Size Measurement, 4 ^{t}^{h} Ed. Chapman and Hall, New York 1990, p. 169. [5] Leeds and Northrup, Microtrac Model 799101.
L.G. Austin, O. Trass, T.F. Dumm, V.R. Koka: A Rapid Method for
[6]
Determination of Changes in Shape of Comminuted Particles using a Laser Diffractometer. Part. Part. Syst. Charact. 5 (1988)
13–15.
[7] Micromeritics Instrument Corporation, Sedigraph Model 5100.
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