• International Journal of Technology (IJTech)
  • Vol 13, No 3 (2022)

Investigation on Saprolitic Laterite Ore Reduction Process using Palm Kernel Shell Charcoal: Kinetics and Phase Transformation

Investigation on Saprolitic Laterite Ore Reduction Process using Palm Kernel Shell Charcoal: Kinetics and Phase Transformation

Title: Investigation on Saprolitic Laterite Ore Reduction Process using Palm Kernel Shell Charcoal: Kinetics and Phase Transformation
Himawan Tri Bayu Murti Petrus, Andreas Diga Pratama Putera, I Wayan Warmada, Fajar Nurjaman, Widi Astuti, Agus Prasetya

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Cite this article as:
Petrus, H.T.B.M., Putera, A.D.P., Warmada, I.W., Nurjaman, F., Astuti, W., Prasetya, A., 2022. Investigation on Saprolitic Laterite Ore Reduction Process using Palm Kernel Shell Charcoal: Kinetics and Phase Transformation. International Journal of Technology. Volume 13(3), pp. 565-574

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Himawan Tri Bayu Murti Petrus 1. Department of Chemical Engineering (Sustainable Mineral Processing Research Group), Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Jl. Grafika No. 2, Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia 2. Unconventiona
Andreas Diga Pratama Putera Department of Chemical Engineering (Sustainable Mineral Processing Research Group), Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Jl. Grafika No. 2, Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia
I Wayan Warmada 1. Unconventional Geo-resources Research Center, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Jl. Grafika No. 2, Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia 2. Department of Geological Engineering, Faculty of En
Fajar Nurjaman Research Unit for Mineral Technology, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Jl. Ir. Sutami Km. 15, Tanjung Bintang, Lampung Selatan, Indonesia
Widi Astuti Research Unit for Mineral Technology, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Jl. Ir. Sutami Km. 15, Tanjung Bintang, Lampung Selatan, Indonesia
Agus Prasetya 1. Department of Chemical Engineering (Sustainable Mineral Processing Research Group), Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Jl. Grafika No. 2, Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia 2. Unconventiona
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Abstract
Investigation on Saprolitic Laterite Ore Reduction Process using Palm Kernel Shell Charcoal: Kinetics and Phase Transformation

The performance and kinetic of saprolitic laterite reduction using palm kernel shell charcoal and anthracite were studied. The anthracite coal represents the conventional high-grade carbon content matter, and palm kernel shell charcoal represents biomass-based reductant. The experiment was conducted at a temperature ranging from 800oC and 1000oC. XRD analysis was applied to observe phase transformation. For the kinetic study, two models, namely (1) Jander and (2) Ginstling-Brounhstein diffusion model, were applied. The mineral phase results indicated that both reductants yield Magnetite from Goethite in the laterite. The best fit model is obtained by the Jander model with the energy activation of 33.68 kJ/mol for anthracite reductant and 10.99 – 18.19 kJ/mol for palm kernel shell reductant, indicating that reduction is easier to occur using palm kernel shell. 

Kinetics; Phase transformation; Reduction; Roasting; Saprolite

Introduction

Nickel could be a transition component with properties of ferrous and nonferrous metals (Kim et al., 2010). Nickel ore is affiliated with oxide (nickel laterite) or sulfur (nickel sulfide). Almost 58% of nickel requests are provided by sulfide metals, even though 78% of nickel is stored in laterite minerals (Dalvi et al., 2004). However, as the continuous exploitation of sulphidic ores occurred in recent years, the sources became scarce and underground mining was introduced. Consequently, the exploitation cost was rising, especially the labour cost. On the contrary, the mining activity of laterite deposits is considerably shallow (usually less than 50 meters) (Elias, 2002). So, much concern has been concentrated on using low-grade nickel ore (especially those containing <2.0 wt.% nickel) (Lee et al., 2005), such as laterites.
    In terms of nickel laterite, Indonesia has an abundant deposit of it. About 12% of  nickel laterite resources are stored in Indonesia (Dalvi et al., 2004). Until 2013, Indonesia is one of the biggest nickel mine producers. However, the Government issued a new policy to limit direct export activities to encourage the production of ferronickel and nickel pig iron (U.S. Geological Survey, 2014). This condition pushes stakeholders, industries, and researchers to develop nickel laterite processing in Indonesia.
    There are two kinds of laterite, namely limonite and saprolite. Limonite is low-nickel content laterite (around 0.8-1.5% Ni-mass), and saprolite is a rich-nickel content (more than 1.5-3% Ni-mass) (Whittington & Muir, 2000). Both hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical processes can be used to extract nickel from the laterites. However, due to its high nickel content, saprolite ore is better processed by pyrometallurgy (Li et al., 2011; Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Republic of Indonesia, 2013). There are usually three unit operations in the pyrometallurgical process: roasting, smelting, and converting. The reduction process consumes carbon-based reductant, usually coke, and produces a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide. This process is highly energy-consuming (Guo et al., 2009) and not environmentally friendly.

Replacing the coke with bio-reductant has been an interesting issue concerning carbon dioxide emission to be studied.

    The works done to study the possibility of using bio-reductants in the process with attention to some parameters are limited. Chen et al. (2015) suggested that bio-coal reductants can be used to reduce the major phase in the limonitic laterite ore (Fe1.833(OH)0.5O2.5 and Fe2SiO4) into a metal phase, such as Fe, Fe0.64Ni0.36. Yunus et al. (2014) suggested that empty fruit bunch derived bio-char can upgrade the magnetic properties of goethite-rich iron ore by temperature dependence serial reduction process of hematite (Fe2O3), magnetite (Fe3O4), and wustite (FeO). However, there is still no evidence explaining the corresponding phenomena other than the equilibrium explanation. To the best of knowledge, there are still few works on kinetics and phase transformation study studies in the pyrometallurgy process using biomass-based reductants, which are critical for the scaling-up phase in the industry.
    Following 'Indonesia's target to export a minimum nickel content of 4.0%, developing a nickel laterite processing plant in the country is necessary. To support the idea, a study confirms that Ni content in Fe-Ni alloy from lateritic sources can reach 4.5% (Citrawati et al., 2020). The latest research concerning the phase transformation and kinetics study uses coconut shell and lamtoro (Leucaena leucocephala) charcoal as reductants. It proves that the biomass-based charcoal could be a good substitute the conventional coal in the roasting process of nickel laterite. Both studies yield magnetite (Fe3O4) with identical kinetics parameters, leading to the conventional coal, leading to a good step for the biomass-based charcoal to substitute the conventional coal (Petrus et al., 2017; Putera et al., 2017).
    The main goals of the current work are to provide detailed qualitative and quantitative information on phase transformation and the reduction mechanism of saprolitic laterite ore reduction with palm kernel shell charcoal. Phase transformation is important to be studied, especially in Iron and Nickel, because the expected end-product is nickel pig iron, a cheaper alternative to pure nickel for stainless steel production (low-grade ferronickel) (Petrus et al., 2016). Knowing the kinetics parameter of the biomass-based reductant (palm kernel shell charcoal), the scaling up of the sustainable technique in saprolitic laterite ore through a pyrometallurgical approach can be established.

Conclusion

Palm kernel shell charcoal is the potential to be utilized as a reductant in the saprolite roasting process. The saprolite sample mixed with palm kernel shell charcoal can yield the identical mineral phase to the sample that used anthracite coal after the roasting process, namely Magnetite, Olivine, and Hematite. The product minerals are transformed from Goethite, confirming the reduction in all samples. In addition, higher temperature and prolonged reduction process increase the conversion of Goethite into magnetite. In terms of kinetics results, the Jander model fits better for both reductants than the Ginstling-Brounshtein model, with lower energy activation for the biomass-based reductant of 10.99 – 18.19 kJ/mol compared to that of anthracite reductant of about 33.68 kJ/mol. The positive results of biomass-based charcoal utilization hopefully encourage the development of a sustainable pyro-based nickel laterite processing process.

 

Acknowledgement

    We highly appreciate the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education of Indonesia for the financial support in the scheme of PUPT (Penelitian Unggulan Perguruan Tinggi) 2364/UN1.P.III/DIT-LIT/LT/2017 and BPDP Kelapa Sawit Research Grant for Students. On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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