A computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solver CFX4.4 is used to implement a steady state model of heap bioleaching of chalcocite, which includes air sparging (forced aeration) based on a previous model entirely under natural convection. The model assumes the oxygen supply limits the reaction rate. A parameter analysis is performed which shows that the factors important to copper leaching are liquid and air flow rates, permeability and fraction of pyrite to chalcocite leached (FPY). The ability to control which parts of the bed received the highest extraction as a function of the liquid and air flow rates was established. Sparging is found to increase the oxygen concentration throughout the heap compared to the circumstance with no sparging (natural convection), and consequently improves the copper extraction significantly. The results show that sparging does not provide any better copper extraction for very high heap permeabilities. The arrangement and spacing of air sparging inlets is analysed in regard to the existence of oxygen starved regions between the inlets. Crown Copyright © 2006.
Leahy, M. J., Philip Schwarz, M., & Davidson, M. R. (2006). An air sparging CFD model for heap bioleaching of chalcocite. Applied Mathematical Modelling, 30(11), 1428–1444. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apm.2006.03.008