Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Matthews, BW, Holtham, P, Fletcher, CAJ, Golab, K and Partridge, AC, Computational and Experimental Investigation of Spiral Concentrator Flows, in Aziz, N (ed), Coal 1998: Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 1998, 415-421.


Spiral concentrators are used globally in the fine coal processing industIy to segregate particles, by grnvitation, on the basis of density and size. Consisting of an open trough that twists vertically downwards about a centrnl axis, a sluny mix of particles and water is fed to the top of the concentrator. Particles are then separnted radially as they grnvitate downward. Since their introduction to Australia in the 1940's, the generic design has evolved largely by laboratory trial-and-error investigations of different prototypes. However, this approach has proven expensive and optimal designs have not been necessarily developed. Accordingly, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis has been used recently as an alternative method of investigation, to assume as is envisaged, a role in the design process. To date, CFD models have progressed to simulations of turbulent fluid flow on current production spiral designs, and are continUing to be adapted for inclusion of particles at realistic feed concentrations. To be able to use the models confidently however, laboratory experiments must also be performed to validate the predictions during the development stage. This paper reports the current findings of an ongoing CFD and experimental program applied to one spiral unit Satisfactory quantitative agreement has been achieved for the fluid and particulate flow characteristics, and although further validations are appropriate, the model already possesses significant potential for use as a reliable predictive design tool.