Effects of temperature, CO content, and reduction time on the selective reduction of a limonitic laterite ore
The production of nickel and cobalt from laterite ores has gained increasing attention as their demands continue to rise. This study evaluated the effects of temperature (700–1000 °C), CO content (10–70 vol%), and reduction time (10–90 min) on the selective reduction of a limonitic laterite ore and examined the mechanism of the selective reduction. SEM/EDS observation shows that the ore consists of goethite, hematite and small particles of clinochlore cemented by amorphous iron-rich silicate phase. Nickel and cobalt occur with goethite mineral in this ore. It was observed that fine grains of Fe-Ni-Co alloy dispersed within magnetite phase in reduced samples. XRD and XPS analyses show increased Fe2SiO4 generation with increasing reduction temperature, and elements nickel and cobalt were capatured in Fe2SiO4 according to SEM/EDS observation. Reduction at temperature above 850 °C resulted in a sharp increase in Fe2SiO4 generation and decrease in the specific surface area of the ore. The morphological and compositional observations indicate that CO content over 20 vol% promoted Fe formation from the laterite ore but hardly enhanced the formation of Ni and Co. The difference in equilibrium CO partial pressures for the formation of Fe, Ni, Co accounts for selective reduction. The current study suggests that selective reduction can be achieved by controlling reduction temperature and gas composition. Under the optimum condition of 850 °C, 20 vol% CO-80 vol% CO2 and 60 min, the degrees of metallisation of iron, nickel, and cobalt reduction were 17.5%, 87.3%, and 91.5%, respectively.
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Chinese Academy of Sciences