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Ball mills are giant drums that are filled to between 30 and 40% of their volume with freely moving grinding media - in this case balls. The diameter of the balls is between one and several centimetres to suit the application - smaller balls for fine milling results and larger ones for coarser milling tasks.

The drive sets the milling drum into slow rotation and the bed of milling media is thus activated, i.e. the balls are lifted and then impact back against the bed. Ball mills are usually operated at 75% of the critical speed. The critical speed is the speed where, mathematically calculated, the grinding media would centrifuge out. Mills of 2 m in diameter therefore rotate in operation at about 23 revolutions per minute, which corresponds to a peripheral speed of 2.4 m/s.

A mill of this size equipped with steel grinding media converts approx. 50 kW per m³ of feedstock. The feed product is fed continuously through the trunnion and is discharged through slots on the opposite side. The discharge rate can be adjusted as a function of the number of open slots. The ground product is transported - often pneumatically - and is charged to a downstream classifier. The coarse material is returned to the mill together with the feed product.

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Zircon sand

Zircon, also known as zircon silicate (ZrSiO4), is found in ancient mineral sand deposits and is typically brown in color.

Zircon is one of the two core product streams from ‘mineral sands’, the other being titanium minerals. During mining, these minerals are separated and removed from their ore deposits.

Zircon sand is mainly used in the ceramics, specialty casting and various refractory applications. Its resistance to high temperature and abrasion makes it extremely valuable in manufacturing processes.

The main use of zircon sand is its conversion to zircon flour, a highly valued product which is used to strengthen concrete and glass properties and refractory bricks. It helps produce pigments and glazes for tiles and sanitary ware by increasing the opacity and brightness of the glaze.

Zircon Flour is manufactured by milling zircon sand, usually in ball mills, either in the dry state or in a slurry. For high quality, ultra-fine, zircon flour powder production, Hosokawa Micron Powder Systems offers the Alpine Super-Orion Ball Mill in circuit with an Air Classifier. For high brightness applications, the ball mill will typically be constructed with aluminum oxide media and lining.

The most common type of Hosokawa Air Classifier used for Zircon Flour is the Alpine Stratoplex (ASP) which is used for a cut point (top size) of 20 to 200 microns. For super-fine applications, the Alpine Turboplex (ATP) Air Classifier is used, with a cut point (top size) of 5 to 50 microns, with single and multi-wheel options. Both classifiers are made with aluminum oxide classifier wheels, and with interior Aluminum Oxide tiling for both fine grinding and durability.

Hosokawa Micron Powder Systems has the experience and expertise to set up quality systems for these applications. Contact us today to learn more.