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CONVENTIONAL CLINKER GRINDING - A NEW APPROACH TO THE

PREDICTION OF POWER CONSUMPTION

K.G. Tsakalakis

School of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, National Technical University of Athens, 15780,
Zografou, Athens, Greece, e-mail: kostsakg@metal.ntua.gr

Keywords: Energy consumption in comminution, Clinker grinding, Particle size, Blaine fineness, Process
optimization, Modelling

ABSTRACT

The current (2004) world cement production was about 2.11 billion tonnes per annum
and it is increasing at about 1% per annum. The cement industry, as other mineralogical
transformation process industries (lime, glass, ceramics, extractive metallurgy, etc.), is
high energy intensive. Production costs and environmental concerns are emphasizing the
need to use less energy, and therefore, the development of more energy efficient grinding
and classification machines is of great importance.
For all dry grinding applications, cement production is certainly the most important. The
increasing demand for “finer” cement product and the need for reduction in energy
consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) reinforce the need for grinding
optimisation. There is much potential in optimising conventional cement clinker grinding
circuits, and in the last decades significant progress has been achieved.
In the present paper we propose a new empirical relationship between the specific
grinding energy, the clinker work index and the specific surface (Blaine) of the product
of the clinker fine-grinding in ball mills. This model enables the prediction of the
electrical power consumption in clinker grinding (cement production), which contributes
significantly to the cement production cost.
Furthermore, the above proposed model is used for an approximate correlation of the
cement fineness (Blaine) and the d80 of the cement produced.

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1. INTRODUCTION

The cement industry, as other mineralogical transformation process industries (lime,


glass, ceramics, extractive metallurgy, etc.), consumes large amounts of energy. Energy
accounts for about one third of the cement production cost. Each tonne of cement
produced requires not only large amounts of fuels (coal, fuel oil, natural gas), but
additionally a significant amount of electrical power as well.
For the reduction of the cement production cost and for environmental concerns, the
utilization of alternative fuels (scrap tires, spent solvents, sewage sludge, etc.), which is
compatible with the general principles of waste management, is nowadays a common
practice in many European and developed countries.
The estimate of the world energy consumption for cement production (Tsakalakis, 2003;
Tsakalakis, 2005a) and its significance is:
1. 2.11 billion tonnes cement x 4.0 GJ/tonne cement = 8.44 x 109 GJ (energy from fossil
fuels) for a mean energy consumption of 4.0 GJ/tonne cement (CEMBUREAU,
2004).
2. Additionally, 110 kWh/tonne cement electrical energy is consumed in cement
production (raw meal crushing-grinding, homogenisation, clinker burning and
cooling, finish milling, conveying, packing and loading, etc.).
This power corresponds to: 2.11 billion tonnes cement x 110 kWh/tonne cement =
232.1x109 kWh = 0.835 x109 GJ and it is produced from fossil fuels with thermal
potential 0.835 x109 GJ/0.4 = 2.088 x 109 GJ (assuming fuel combustion efficiency
40%).
3. Thus, the total energy consumed annually for the world cement production is:
(8.44 x 109 GJ+2.088 x 109 GJ) = 10.328 x 109 GJ
Since, the world total (2004) primary energy consumption was about 420 Quads Btu
corresponding to 443.1 x 109 GJ, the percentage of the energy consumed by the
cement industry is: (10.328/443.1)x100 = 2.33%, from which 0.47% refers to the
electrical energy consumed in the cement making process.

2. CEMENT PRODUCTION

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Approximately 1.5 tonnes of raw materials are required per 1 tonne of finished cement.
Cement production process typically involves:
• grinding limestone (and other raw materials to achieve the right chemical composition)
to about 90% passing 90 microns in a dry circuit,
• production of clinker by the chemical reaction (pyro-processing at high temperatures)
between the components of the raw meal in rotary kilns,
• grinding (finish milling) the clinker nodules to a product (cement) 100% passing 90
microns in a dry circuit.
As it is evident in Fig. 1, the grinding process, taking place at the beginning and the end
of the cement making process, consumes approximately 56.1% (i.e. 26.1+30) of the total
electrical energy used in cement production (Stoiber, 2002).

100%
Conveying, packing,
90% loading, 5.1%
Clinker burning and
24,6
80% cooling, 24.6%
Raw meal homogenisation,
in cement production processes
Electrical power distribution %

70%
1.6%
60% 4,4 Strip mining, raw material
extraction, 5%
50%
Fuel (coal) grinding, 4.4%
30
40%
Clinker grinding-cement
30% production
20% Raw meal grinding, drying,
26,1 26.1%
10% Raw material crushing,
3,2 prehomogenisation, 3.2%
0%
1
Figure 1. Electrical power distribution in cement production processes.

3. The electrical energy consumed in the cement making process is in the order of 110
kWh/tonne, about 30% of which is used for the raw materials preparation (crushing,
grinding) and about 30% for the finish milling (CEMBUREAU, 2004) of clinker and
additives (cement production).

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Production costs and environmental concerns emphasize the need to use less energy and
therefore the development of more energy efficient machines for grinding and
classification.

3. CLINKER GRINDING PROCEDURE

For most of the twentieth century, the dry grinding circuits for the production of finished
cement from clinker consist of two-compartment tube mills and the air separators. It is
not also uncommon to produce the cement in an open circuit. Advances in cement
grinding technology are slow and these are limited to more developed countries.
Approximately 95% of the feed to the cement grinding circuit are clinker and the rest of
the feed are “additives”, which includes grinding aids.
The cement clinker grinding circuit reduces the feed from 80% passing size between 12
and 20 mm to 100% passing 90 microns. The conventional size reduction takes place in a
two-compartment ball mill; the first compartment of the mill is shorter for short retention
time than the second one.

Feed
1st compartment 2nd compartment
Size reduction Size reduction
R1 R2

Discharge
e

Diaphragm

Figure 2. Conventional clinker-grinding ball mills with a diaphragm (Source: Jankovic et al.,
1995).
The coarse clinker is ground in the first compartment where larger balls (80, 60, 50 mm)
are present and the fine grinding is achieved in the second compartment where smaller
balls (below 25 mm) are used. A diaphragm (Fig. 2), separating the two compartments,
allows only particles below a certain size to pass the second compartment. Ground
material leaves the mill through the discharge grate preventing grinding media (balls)

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from going out the mill. A proportion of material, mostly fines, is “air-swept” out of the
mill. The final product is the fine fraction of the air classifier and the coarse fraction
returns to the mill. Due to the diaphragm separating the two compartments of the mill, it
can be, without any significant error, considered that the size reduction process actually
takes place in two successive grinding stages. The first size reduction phase happens in
the first compartment, where the great balls are present, and the second in the subsequent
with the small balls. The reduction ratio prevailing in the first compartment is supposed
to be R1 and in the second R2.
The overall reduction ratio R is the product of the two (R = R1 x R2) and the product of
the first size reduction stage, designated as din, is the feed of the next.

4. PARTICLE SIZE AND CEMENT PERFORMANCE

The cement properties and its performance in concrete production are based significantly
on the cement fineness. The cement fineness depends on the particle size distribution of
the cement and it is measured by the surface area or the Blaine index.
The Blaine index is expressed in cm2/g or m2/kg units and it is determined by the Blaine
air permeability test (Blaine apparatus). The method relates the fineness of cement to the
porosity of a standard specimen of compacted cement. The finer the cement (i.e. smaller
particles have larger surface area) the quicker it reacts with water, resulting in faster
setting and higher early strength.
If the particle size distribution is known, the Blaine index can be successfully predicted
(Zhang et al, 1995; Forschungsinstitut der Zementindustrie, 2004), but several
researchers have proved that, although the surface area of two cements could be the same,
their particle size distribution could be markedly different (Fig. 3).

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Cumulative passing %

Particle size x, μm
Figure 3. Particle size distributions of three cements of the same approximately fineness (Blaine).
Source: Forschungsinstitut der Zementindustrie, 2004

The cement industry has for many years adopted fineness control as the main parameter
for the control of the finish grinding process. However, it was noted that cements with the
same chemical composition and surface area could perform differently, particularly in
early strength and normal consistency (workability). Extensive research also established
that the superfine particles (i.e. those less than 3 microns) affected the concrete slump and
workability, but contributed little to the strength of cement. Cement particles larger than
32 microns were found to be too large to hydrate completely during the hydration
reaction. Thus, it was established that the cement particles belonging in the size range
between 3 and 32 microns are the optimum for cement performance (QCL, 2004). In Fig.
4 the particle size distribution of a cement, having Blaine fineness 3587 cm2/g, is shown.
From the distribution it is evident that the particle size d80 = 30 μm (80% passing). It is
also shown that 15% of the total is finer than 3 μm.

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Figure 4. Cement particle size distribution (Blaine fineness 3587 cm2/g), Source: QCL, 2004.

5. EMPIRICAL MODEL DEVELOPMENT

It is well known that the electrical power consumed in the clinker fine grinding for
cement production (Stamboltzis and Tsakalakis, 2003; Schnatz, 2004) depends on:
 the size of the clinker particles (feed),

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 the mechanical characteristics of the clinker (hardness, work index, density)
 the particle size distribution of the cement being in close relationship with its
specific surface (Blaine fineness),
 the mill dimensions (length, diameter, L/D ratio), and finally
 the mill operating conditions (fraction of the mill filling fL , mill critical speed fC,
mill grinding load).

For the prediction of the power consumption and the production cost of cement, the use
of the specific electrical power consumption (kWh/tonne clinker) is necessary. This
specific power consumption is a function (Fuller, Bulletin M-2 5M 6/76) of the cement
fineness and the clinker work index (wi, kWh/short ton).
In the present paper, applying multiple linear regression to data received from mill
manufacturers (Fuller, Bulletin M-2 5M 6/76; MARCY, CATALOG 101-B), the
following empirical model (Tsakalakis, 2005b) was developed:

4
E  101.7410 FBl 0.035wi 0.4714
(1)

where, E is the specific grinding energy (kWh/tonne),


FBl is the cement fineness (Blaine) in cm2/g and
wi is the clinker work index (kWh/short ton)

The conversion factor (1 short ton = 0.907 tonne) has been embodied in the coefficients
of the model. Applying Eq. (1) for various values of the cement fineness from 3200-5000
cm2/g with an incremental step 200 and for wi 12, 14, 16 and 18 kWh/short ton
respectively, the specific grinding energy E was predicted.
The graphical representation of Eq. (1) on semi-log paper for various values of clinker
work-indexes wi is shown in Fig. 5. The model predicts the specific grinding energy of
the clinker undergoing dry grinding in ball mills.

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5200
12 14 16 18
5000

4800
Specific surface Blaine, cm/g

4600
2

4400

4200

4000

3800

3600

3400

3200

3000
10 20 30 40 50 60 80 100
Specific grinding energyE , kWh/tonne

Figure 5. Graphical representation of Eq. (1) for various values of clinker work-indexes wi (dry
grinding in ball mills).

In Fig. 6 the experimental values are compared with those predicted from Eq. (1). From
this figure, it is shown that the accuracy achieved is very good.

70
Work index Wi =12 kWh/s.t.
Calculated specific grinding energy E, kWh/tonne

Work index Wi =14 kWh/s.t


Work index Wi = 16 kwh/s.t.
Line y=x

60

50

40

30
30 40 50 60 70
Exp erimental sp ecific grinding energy E, kWh/tonne
(Fuller Traylor Grinding M ill Sy stems)

Figure 6. Comparison of the experimental and calculated specific grinding energy values of dry
clinker grinding in ball mills. Solid line corresponds to y=x.

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6. ESTIMATING THE d80 OF THE CEMENT PRODUCT

It has also been shown earlier (Tsakalakis and Stamboltzis, 2004) that, the specific
grinding energy E (kWh/tonne) in ball mils is given by:

E  23.7  wi  R0.193  d800.769 (2)

where E, wi are as previously in Eq. (1) defined


R = Df /d80 is the particle reduction ratio
Df is the particle size of the feed in μm (80% passing) and
d80 is the particle size of the product in μm (80% passing).

Substituting R for Df /d80 in Eq. (2) yields:

E  23.7  wi  D f 0.193  d80 0.962 (3)

But, the ball mills used for clinker finish milling are equipped with two separate
compartments. Due to the diaphragm separating the two compartments of the mill, it can
be thought, without any significant error, that the size reduction process takes place
actually in two successive grinding stages. The first size reduction phase happens in the
first compartment, where the great balls are present, and the second in the subsequent
with the small balls. The reduction ratio prevailing in the first compartment is supposed
to be R1 and in the second R2.
Hence, the overall reduction ratio R is the product of the two (R = R1 x R2) and the
product of the first size reduction stage, designated as din, is the feed of the next.

Thus, Eq. (3) used for clinker grinding in two compartment ball mills must be applied as
follows:

E = E1 + E2 (4)

where, E1 is the energy needed for the first size reduction phase and
E2 is the energy needed for the second grinding phase.

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E1 is given by:

E1  23.7  wi  D f 0.193  d in 0.962 (5)


and E2 is:

E 2  0.87  23.7  wi  d in 0.193  d 80 0.962 (6)

The factor 0.87, set in Eq. (6), derived from Fig. 7. E2 is, by a percentage 13%, less than
the energy calculated from Eq. (5). This percentage represents losses, assigned to the mill
rotation mechanism and the friction. These losses, approximately estimated to 13% (i.e.,
8.5+4.5), have already been accounted in Eq. (5). It is obvious that, there are not any
additional mill rotation mechanism and friction losses corresponding to the second mill
compartment.

50 46,7
45
40
31
Percentage, %

35
30
25
20
15
8,5
10 6,3
4,5
5 0,6 2,4
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Figure 7. Approximate electrical power distribution in conventional cement mills (ball mills).

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Therefore, the total energy consumption for the clinker grinding in two-compartment
mills can be calculated by:

E  23.7  wi  D f 0.193  din 0.962  0.87  23.7  wi  din 0.193  d80 0.962 (7)

Application
For the cement shown in Fig. 3, the Blaine fineness is FBl = 3587 cm2/g and assuming
that the work index of the clinker wi = 14.5 kWh/short ton, Eq. (1) gives:
E = 40.09 kWh/tonne

Making also the assumption that Df =16 mm = 16000 μm and observing that d80 = 30 μm
(Fig. 4), the arising overall reduction ratio is R = 533.33.

Hereupon, solving Eq. (3) for d80, yields:

1
 23.7  14.5  533.330.193  0.769
d 80   
  79.03m
 40.09 

The above calculated value for d80 is far away from that observed in Fig. 4.

Applying the procedure defined by the Eq. (7), we have:


Let Df = 16000 μm and an equal reduction ratio 22.36 for the two grinding stages (i.e.
22.362 = 500). Thus, the product 80% from the first compartment is 715.56 μm (i.e. din =
715.56 μm).
Substituting in Eq. (7) for E = 40.09 kWh/tonne, Df = 16000 μm, din = 715.56 μm, wi =
14.5 kWh/short ton and solving for d80 yields: d80 = 33.66 μm.
The above value (33.66 μm) seems to be sufficiently close to that (30 μm) observed in
Fig. 4.
Thus, the overall size reduction ratio becomes R = 16000/33.66 = 475.34.
Alternatively, choosing an arbitrary initial size-reduction ratio R1 = 15 (i.e. din = 1066.67
μm), instead of that R1 = 22.36 which was previously received, the corresponding value,
in that case, is d80 = 35.18 μm. The overall reduction ratio becomes now R = 454.82.

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The above assumption seems to be reasonable, due to the great size of the particles fed in
the first compartment and its shorter length resulting in short retention time. Hence, the
initial reduction ratio R1 should be less than R2, prevailing in the second compartment.
Similarly, applying the same procedure for the different cements shown in Fig. 8, the
results obtained for d80 are presented in Table 1.
Cumulative passing %

Particle size x, μm
Figure 8. Particle size distribution of various cements.
Source: Forschungsinstitut der Zementindustrie, 2004
Table 1. Comparison of the data observed in Fig. 8 with those predicted from the proposed
procedure
Equal reduction ratio r = R0.5 Assumed (arbitrary) initial
Data from Fig. 8
(assumed) reduction ratio R1
Overall Overall Overall
Blaine d80 d80 d80
reduction Initial reduction reduction
fineness, observed, predicted, predicted,
ratio, R R1 = R0.5 ratio R, ratio R,
FBl, cm2/g μm μm μm
calculated calculated Initial calculated
2500 55 290.9 17.06 57.15 280 R1 = 15 57.70 277.30
3000 41 390.24 19.75 44.70 357.94 45.84 349.04
4000 30 533.33 23.06 27.76 576.37 29.28 546.45
5000 23 695.7 26.38 17.41 919.01 18.91 846.11

From Table 1 it is observed that, the proposed procedure predicts satisfactorily the d80
values corresponding to the fineness of the various cements. There is no significant error

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when an arbitrary initial reduction ratio is chosen. These values are indicative, due to the
fact previously explained, that cements of the same fineness could have quite different
particle size distributions.

CONCLUSIONS

In the present work, an empirical model was derived, which gives the specific grinding
energy E as a function of the cement fineness FBl (Blaine) in cm2/g and the clinker Bond
work index wi (kWh/short ton).
This equation was connected with a previously proposed model giving the specific
grinding energy E as a function of the Bond work index wi, the size reduction ratio
R = Df /d80, and the d80 size of the product.
From the procedure developed, it is possible to correlate the cement fineness FBl with the
size d80 of the cement product. The calculated d80 values are indicative due to the fact that
cements of the same fineness could have quite different particle size distributions.
However, for the examples presented here, the predicted d80 values are close to those
derived from the cement particle size distributions.
This work shows that the proposed equations approach successfully the values given
from mill-manufacturers.
The whole methodology contributes to the specific grinding energy prediction, the
calculation of the cement grinding cost, and serves successfully in the modeling of the
cement grinding process. Additionally, it offers acceptable indications for the expected
d80 size of the product, and is helpful in foreseeing the performance of the cement
produced.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The author is greatly indebted to Profs. E. Mitsoulis and G. Stamboltzis for helpful
discussions and suggestions.

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REFERENCES

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http://www.vdz-online.de/downloads/aif13198n/13198n.pdf
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Metallurgical Annals, Vol. 3, Issue 1, 1993, pp.17-26, (in Greek with English abstract).
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varying the L/D ratio, ball charge filling ratio, ball size and residence time, Int. J. Miner.
Process. 74S, 2004, pp. S55-S63.
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