Following successful trials, specialist graphite and graphene company Tirupati Graphite will ship the first commercial-scale column flotation system (CFS) for installation and operation at its 9 000 t/y Vatomina graphite production plant in Madagascar.
In July 2021, the Tirupati Graphene & Mintech Research Centre (TGMRC) established a pilot-scale version of its unique CFS, which it developed for use across its primary and downstream specialty graphite production plants.
The new technology is aimed at improving the performance of its primary graphite and downstream specialty graphite production processes, ultimately culminating in the latest plant, which has a capacity of 1.5-million tonnes an hour.
Tirupati executive chairperson Shishir Poddar says global flake graphite demand continues to grow on the back of the acceleration in the transition to electric mobility and growth in other flake graphite consumption areas, such as flame retardant and thermal management applications.
As such, he says, Tirupati is increasingly confident in its strategy of rapidly increasing its production capacity.
The CFS developed by Tirupati has demonstrated several advantages over conventional flotation-cell technologies commonly used in graphite processing, including the ability to reduce power consumption during the flotation stage of the process by about 40% and eliminate corrosion and wear in flotation, thereby reducing maintenance costs and production downtime.
The plant can also reduce the number of processing/flotation stages required to achieve desired graphite purity levels, thereby lowering the overall cost of production.
Tirupati will be incorporating the new CFS in its upcoming capacity expansion projects, replacing three of four flotation stages. This can be achieved without changing the planned timelines and is expected to deliver significant commercial and operational improvements, further strengthening its status as a low-cost-quartile producer of natural flake graphite.
As such, Tirupati expects significant benefits on cost and efficiency in the upcoming 18 000 t/y Sahamamy expansion to be completed at the end of the first half of this year, as well as the 54 000 t/y of additional capacity planned to be built in Madagascar by 2024.
“Our dedicated research centre in India, which is the technological backbone supporting the group’s operations, has enabled us to commercialise our CFS with many unique features,” says Poddar.
He adds that this enables the company to further reduce its costs and increase efficiencies at its primary flake graphite operations in Madagascar, downstream specialty graphite operations in India and, in due course, its primary flake graphite projects in Mozambique as well.
“We believe in continued innovation and technological improvements and continue to make progress towards being an important contributor to the energy transition economy and in the process seize the opportunities for creating sustainable values for our shareholders,” concludes Poddar.