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Rotary Kiln - Principle of Operation and history

Author: HXJQTime: 3/16/2012 2:11:14 AM

The rotary kiln consists of a tube made from steel plate, and lined with firebrick. The tube slopes slightly (1–4°) and slowly rotates on its axis at between 30 and 250 revolutions per hour. Rawmix is fed in at the upper end, and the rotation of the kiln causes it gradually to move downhill to the other end of the kiln. At the other end fuel, in the form of gas, oil, or pulverized solid fuel, is blown in through the "burner pipe", producing a large concentric flame in the lower part of the kiln tube. As material moves under the flame, it reaches its peak temperature, before dropping out of the kiln tube into the cooler. Air is drawn first through the cooler and then through the kiln for combustion of the fuel. In the cooler the air is heated by the cooling clinker, so that it may be 400 to 800 °C before it enters the kiln, thus causing intense and rapid combustion of the fuel.

The earliest successful rotary kilns were developed in Pennsylvania around 1890, and were about 1.5 m in diameter and 15 m in length. Such a kiln made about 20 tonnes of clinker per day. The fuel, initially, was oil, which was readily available in Pennsylvania at the time. It was particularly easy to get a good flame with this fuel. Within the next 10 years, the technique of firing by blowing in pulverized coal was developed, allowing the use of the cheapest available fuel. By 1905, the largest kilns were 2.7 x 60 m in size, and made 190 tonnes per day. At that date, after only 15 years of development, rotary kilns accounted for half of world production. Since then, the capacity of kilns has increased steadily, and the largest kilns today produce around 10,000 tonnes per day. In contrast to static kilns, the material passes through quickly: it takes from 3 hours (in some old wet process kilns) to as little as 10 minutes (in short precalciner kilns). Rotary kilns run 24 hours a day, and are typically stopped only for a few days once or twice a year for essential maintenance. This is an important discipline, because heating up and cooling down are long, wasteful and damaging processes. Uninterrupted runs as long as 18 months have been achieved.

Principle of Operation

The kiln is a cylindrical vessel, inclined slightly to the horizontal, which is rotated slowly about its axis. The material to be processed is fed into the upper end of the cylinder. As the kiln rotates, material gradually moves down towards the lower end, and may undergo a certain amount of stirring and mixing. Hot gases pass along the kiln, sometimes in the same direction as the process material (co-current), but usually in the opposite direction (counter-current). The hot gases may be generated in an external furnace, or may be generated by a flame inside the kiln. Such a flame is projected from a burner-pipe (or "firing pipe") which acts like a large bunsen burner. The fuel for this may be gas, oil or pulverized coal.