Paques B.V.

CRYSTALACTOR® technology and its applications in the mining and metallurgical industry

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The Crystalactor® is a Dutch pellet reactor which was originally developed, patented and commercialized for water softening purposes. It was soon recognized, however, that the reactor could also be used for the crystallization of a variety of (heavy metal) carbonates, phosphates, halides, sulfates and sulfides in the process industry. With many units currently in operation in both the municipal and the private sector, applications in the mining and metallurgical industry are now being realized. A first Crystalactor® for fluoride control at a large base metal refinery is scheduled to come on-stream this year.

In essence, the Crystalactor® is a cylindrical vessel which is partly filled with a suitable seed material. Feed, reagent and recirculating solution are pumped upward through the particle bed at a rate so as to fluidize it in order to maintain favorable mixing and supersaturation conditions. Effluent overflows the top of the reactor whereas the (seed) particles in the bed grow through crystallization. As the pellets become progressively heavier they gradually move towards the bottom of the bed. Periodically, the lower portion of the bed is discharged into a pellet container and fresh seeds are added without interrupting Crystalactor® operation.

Following an introduction to Crystalactor® technology and a description of the operating principles of the reactor, its principal design and engineering aspects will be briefly addressed. Selected fullscale installations on relevant applications and areas of research will then be discussed. In addition, potential applications of

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