South Africa-based furnace and kiln manufacturer Thermopower Furnaces tells Mining Weekly that it will soon continue with the final stages of an incinerator hand-over, as the client has started phasing in contractor access to its site as South Africa moved to Level 4 of the Covid-19 lockdown.
“The incinerator combines a pyrolysis stage and an oxidation stage into a single rotary kiln unit. It is indirectly heated, and capable of processing congealed chlorinated organic compounds, which is unprecedented,” says Thermopower Furnaces director William Oldnall.
He adds that the emptying and collection of ash will also be fully contained and automated.
Following an 18-month research and development (R&D) phase at the company’s R&D facility in Olifantsfontein, Gauteng, Thermopower Furnaces was commissioned to design and manufacture the incinerator.
The project – for a major precious metal producer’s refinery – was installed for the destruction of organic residues and waste streams from the solvent extraction plant at the refinery.
Oldnall adds that the incinerator had to meet legislative requirements for incineration; ensure that there is no contact between the operators and solvents; operate continuously; and recover, cool and weigh the residual platinum-group metals enriched ash in a secured area.
A 72-hour testing period was successfully completed in January, and operator training subsequently started. “This, unfortunately, had to be placed on hold after the lockdown announcement in March,” he comments.
Meanwhile, Oldnall notes that the company has undertaken several other R&D projects.
Most notably is the R&D currently being conducted for a leading South African diversified miner, where a multitude of hydro- and pyrometallurgical processes for alternative recoveries of base metals from varying ores are being developed.
Oldnall says the R&D projects generally lead to equipment supply contracts for Thermopower Furnaces and underscore its reputation for innovation.
This is further evidenced by a successful R&D project that resulted in the company’s being selected to assist in the design of a fully integrated pilot plant, which will be erected at the Thermopower Furnaces facility and operational by the end of 2020, enthuses Oldnall.
He explains that the pilot plant is in the detailed design phase and, as such, has not been affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, as all those involved are participating in weekly design review and project management meetings.
“The design phase will continue for another month or so, but raw material procurement should start in the next few weeks.”
Projects such as these are exciting opportunities for South Africa to showcase ingenuity and “breathe new life” into the country’s minerals and engineering industries, he concludes