A Dynamic Thermochemistry-Based Process Model for Lead Smelting in the TSL Process


The first dynamic process model of a Top Submerged Lance (TSL) furnace based on a fundamental phase solution thermochemical basis is reported. This development is required to understand fully the role of TSL as an enabler of the circular economy, i.e., how well it brings materials back into the cycle. To achieve this understanding, the volume inside the furnace has been divided into six zones (bullion, bullion/slag interface, slag, bubble, splash, freeboard), gleaning from industrial experience and roughly guided by CFD studies by the authors. For each of these zones, local equilibrium is assumed. The model is implemented for lead smelting using SimuSage and has been benchmarked against reported production data. It is shown that the model can be used to optimize processing parameters: the process gas flow through the lance, to achieve a compromise between maximization of bullion production and process stability by avoiding the formation of matte phase. In a virtual experiment, a concentrate poorer in PbS is used and it is proposed how processing conditions should be modified to achieve a stable process and how the maximum achievable productivity changes. Finally, the model is applied to predict the partitioning of indium, as an important technology element from a typical recycling feed between the bullion, slag, and dust phases. It is observed that indium reports mainly to the slag phase during the smelting stage.

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The authors are grateful to the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research for financial support of the project “QuaResPro—From Quantum-Mechanics to Resource Efficient Product Design” (BMBF 033RK058A) in the scope of the funding initiative “KMU-Innovativ: Ressourceneffizienz und Klimaschutz.” Joao Rezende thanks Bruno Reis and Stephan Petersen for the support in the usage of the Simusage package and Guixuan Wu for providing important information concerning slag properties.

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Moritz to Baben and Joao Rezende are employees at GTT Technologies, a company that sells the software and thermodynamic databases that are used in the work described in the present paper.

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Rezende, J., van Schalkwyk, R.F., Reuter, M.A. et al. A Dynamic Thermochemistry-Based Process Model for Lead Smelting in the TSL Process. J. Sustain. Metall. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40831-021-00387-7

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  • Process simulation
  • Computational thermochemistry
  • Lead metallurgy
  • Recycling
  • Dynamic model
  • Local equilibrium