2.2 Cyclone Separator

A cyclone is a conical vessel into which a dust-bearing gas-stream is passed tangentially. Because the rotating motion of the gas in the cyclone separator arises from its tangential entry and no additional energy is imparted within the separator body, a free vortex is established. The flow descends rotating near the wall, until a certain axial location where the axial velocity component reverses itself, thus making the flow to ascend. This is referred to as the vortex end position. The ascension proceeds near the cyclone axis and, since the flow rotation continues, a double vortex structure is formed, as indicated in the figure

1. The inner vortex finally leads the flow to exit through a central duct, called the vortex finder. The solids are thrown to the outside edge of the vessel by centrifugal action, and leave through a valve in the vortex of the cone.

Cyclones were originally used to clean up the dust-laden gases leaving simple dry process kilns. If, instead, the entire feed of raw mix is encouraged to pass through the cyclone, it is found that a very efficient heat exchange takes place: the gas is efficiently cooled, hence producing less waste of heat to the atmosphere, and the raw mix is efficiently heated. This efficiency is further increased if a number of cyclones are connected in series.

2.3 Design Considerations

A small inlet and outlet therefore result in the separation of smaller particles. The depth and diameter of the body should be as large as possible because the former determines the radial component of the gas velocity and later controls the tangential component at any radius. In general the larger the particles, the larger should be the separator diameter, because greater is the radius at which they rotate, the greater too is the inlet velocity which can be used without causing turbulence within the separator. The factor which ultimately settles the maximum size is the cost. Because the separating power is directly related to the throughput of gas, the cyclone separator is not very flexible though its efficiency can be improved at low throughputs by restricting the area of the inlet with a damper and thereby increasing the velocity. However it is better to use a number of cyclones in parallel and to keep the load on each approximately the same.

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